Electric cooperatives and the political economy of rural electrification in Africa: Insights from Uganda

Kevin Lo*, Benard Kibalya

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Rural electrification is a crucial process of enhancing the modern energy access of rural communities which is an important global development goal. Electric cooperatives have played an important role as drivers of rural electrification worldwide, both historically and contemporaneously. The emerging role of cooperatives in rural electrification is yet to be examined in the context of East Africa, a region that experiences serious infrastructure deficits alongside widespread rural poverty. This study adopts a political economy perspective to explore the roles and challenges of cooperatives in rural electrification in Uganda. Through a high-level case study of two electric cooperatives, we show that while the cooperatives can deliver rural electrification, they face a series of political and economic challenges in fulfilling their mission. To enhance rural electrification through cooperatives, the challenges should be addressed by policy solutions: (1) providing more support to rural households that cannot afford electricity; (2) providing further support to cooperatives to avoid overburdening the community; (3) enhancing investment to upgrade the grid and extend its geographical coverage; and (4) exploring new financial and technological options for rural electrification. We expect the findings of this study to be useful to policymakers, implementers, cooperatives, and international donors currently working in rural electrification in Africa and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107238
Number of pages6
JournalElectricity Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

User-Defined Keywords

  • Africa
  • Developing countries
  • Electric cooperatives
  • Energy policy
  • Rural electrification
  • Uganda


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