Empowering Energy Access: Using Data to Illuminate the Way.

Imagine a world where everyone has access to reliable and affordable energy, where darkness is banished, and possibilities are boundless. It’s a world that many of us take for granted, but for millions in Sub-Saharan Africa, it remains an elusive dream. However, during our seventh episode of Research Brown bag sessions, Thomas Bundi from Strathmore Energy Research Center shared an enlightening tool that offers a glimmer of hope on the horizon, and it comes in the form of a powerful tool – the Energy Access Explorer (EAE).

The Energy Challenge.

Access to energy is not merely a matter of convenience; it’s a fundamental driver of development and human well-being. Yet, the grim reality is that a significant portion of the global population still lacks access to clean and reliable energy sources, access to electricity, and Access to clean cooking.  and the majority of these individuals find themselves in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Kenya, like many African nations, has made commendable strides in increasing energy access, with a significant jump from 32% of households in 2013 to an impressive 75% in 2022. However, the road ahead is fraught with challenges, particularly when it comes to reaching those in the most remote regions.

Expanding energy access to these remote areas demands extensive feasibility studies and careful planning, which brings us to a critical question: How can we adopt a data-driven approach to achieve universal energy access and prioritize areas in need?

Introducing the Energy Access Explorer (EAE)

The Energy Access Explorer (EAE) is not your typical tool; it’s a game-changer. This online, interactive platform is designed to revolutionize energy access planning in underserved and unserved regions. How does it work? By harnessing credible and publicly available data, the EAE bridges the gap between energy demand and supply, laying the foundation for informed decision-making in energy access planning.

But here’s where it gets even more exciting – the EAE is open source, meaning that users have the freedom to customize its products, methodologies, and datasets to meet their specific needs. This level of adaptability empowers individuals to conduct personalized analyses, allowing them to identify and prioritize areas ripe for energy expansion. 

For a World of Possibilities.

The EAE is a catalyst for change, and its versatility means it can be harnessed by various stakeholders in the energy access sphere to achieve diverse goals.

Imagine an energy planner using the EAE to pinpoint areas with high population density and low energy access. Picture a development organization utilizing it to identify regions in dire need of energy access interventions, whether through solar panel installations or energy efficiency training. Consider a private sector company leveraging the EAE to uncover potential markets for their energy products and services – a solar company, for instance, identifying areas with high solar potential, low energy access, and distance from the grid. A researcher and Innovator can also use the data to apply for grants or use it to develop a system. The possibilities are endless.

In essence, the EAE empowers stakeholders to make informed decisions and prioritize interventions where they matter most. 

Brighter days ahead….

As we navigate the complex landscape of energy access,  the Energy Access Explorer has originally been prototyped for 3 countries, is being developed for 14 geographies, at both national and sub-national levels, and has close partnerships with more than 70 stakeholders and users. With EAE, the dream of universal energy access is no longer a distant goal; it’s a reality within reach.

Are you currently engaged in an innovative research project? Have you recently presented your research findings? If so, then the Research Brown Bag is your ideal destination. Join us in this vibrant forum, every last Friday of the month, where you can interact with fellow researchers, industry experts, and seasoned professionals from diverse fields. Here, you’ll have the invaluable opportunity to receive constructive feedback and critique for your project, helping you refine and elevate your research endeavors.

Send your Research projects/ideas to research@strathmore.edu

This article was written by Mwangi Kevin.

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