March 08 2024 0Comment

The Sustainability, Inclusiveness and Governance of Mini-Grids in Africa: The SIGMA Project

There is an important domain of collaborative research that is focused on better understanding the development of mini-grids in the developing country context and how they can be improved to deliver better services to the communities they serve.

The SIGMA project is one such research effort. Its aim is to “improve our understanding of the sustainability, inclusiveness and governance of mini-grids in general, and those in Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, by developing an improved evidence base and a multi-dimensional appreciation of issues and challenges that can support better decision-making for universal electrification globally.” [1]

An important focal point of the project centres on examining inclusivity aspects of mini-grids, which is relevant to the energy democracy perspective that advocates for greater local inclusion and citizen participation. The project examines this in areas such as affordability, gender, and local socio-economic development.

SIGMA’s final dissemination event, held on 22 February 2024, highlighted important learnings around how mini-grids have transpired and their implications for inclusiveness:

  • There is still significant progress to be made in achieving inclusiveness and ensuring that the socio-economic benefits that are brought on by the implementation of mini-grids are realised equitably by all beneficiaries.
  • There is potential to promote inclusiveness through the “agriculture-energy nexus”, but policy and financial support is required to overcome barriers to inclusion and to facilitate participation, particularly for the most marginalised communities or households.
  • There is a need to remedy or bridge the divide between achieving livelihood improvement and other social impacts while adhering to the demands of private sector or commercial logics, which are often seen as having competing priorities.
  • While there are observed gaps in areas such as capacity competencies and financial access, there have been some observed elements of inclusion in gender aspects, particularly in management and operation activities of mini-grids studied in Tanzania.

Overall, the project highlights that the attainment of mini-grids in rural communities does not automatically translate into the realisation of inclusive opportunities and outcomes for communities. There are various support measures that are required to assist local needs, in order to get there. To learn more on the work of the SIGMA project, visit their website at

For the presentations given at this event:



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