What do we know about cooperative sustainable electrification in the global South? A synthesis of the literature and refined social-ecological systems framework

Research output: Journal contributionsScientific review articlesResearch


It is widely acknowledged that access to modern energy services is linked to socio-economic development. There is growing evidence that it is a necessary though not sufficient condition for development. 95% of the population without access to modern forms of energy live in developing Asian and African countries. For these regions in particular, it is important to find suitable financial and organizational structures. Although the situation is better in Latin America, people in rural areas in some countries still face significant challenges. It is not clear what the right institutional structures to combat energy poverty and to improve energy development are. Even if there is no “one-size-fits-all solution” to the institutional question with respect to rural electrification, a better understanding of this issue is necessary to decide how and where contemporary models of ownership and governance could be used. Based on a comprehensive literature review, this study summarizes findings on one of these models, cooperative ownership. It also identifies research gaps and adapts and refines the Social-Ecological Systems (SES) framework to describe institutional settings. This study proposes that this framework can be used as a diagnostic tool by both researchers and practitioners, e.g. to investigate policy options. The literature reviewed shows a bias towards South and Southeast Asia and cases that have been successful in early years. Regarding research gaps, this study highlights the need for further comparative studies of several issues such as strategies to cope with lack of capacity, type and role of intermediaries, sense of ownership, and the role of cooperative approaches in energy transitions.

Translated title of the contributionWas wissen wir über genossenschaftliche ländliche Elektrifizierung im Globalen Süden?: Eine Synthese der Literatur und ein verfeinerter theoretischer Rahmen für sozial-ökologische Systeme
Original languageEnglish
JournalRenewable & Sustainble Energy Reviews
Pages (from-to)307-320
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 07.2019