Monitoring Myanmar's electrification plan: Welfare effects and access issues

Project Active from to Energy

Myanmar is in energy poverty. Venture outside Yangon or Mandalay at night and one will be mostly faced with darkness. The Government of Myanmar rightly sees electrification as a national priority for growth. The National Electrification Plan (NEP) is an ambitious plan by the government to provide access to electricity for all by 2030, up from 34% today. It aims to achieve this through two components: a large-scale expansion of the national grid and through the delivery of off-grid systems.

The electrification of Myanmar, from a blank slate, presents an opportunity to answer questions about the process and impacts of electrification at both the macro and micro levels. At the macro level, the fact that the geospatial plan for electrification is known beforehand will allow us to track and monitor the spillovers and dynamic effects of electrification with greater certainty than previous infrastructure papers. At the micro level, villages are given full responsibility over last-mile connection to the grid, raising concerns about the ability for households/villages to access electricity once it is in place due to financial or organisational constraints. This also creates an opportunity to study the political economy of energy access at the local level. By looking at the organisation of village electrification committees that are responsible for financing and arranging the last mile connections we can also examine how the distribution of willingness-to-pay around the village affects the cost of grid connections for all; reaching more of the poor could lower the cost for all.

By studying the dynamics of how villages and households get access to the national grid we will be able to better determine the potential policy options for government to support them. For instance, deducing the willingness and ability for households to pay for connection can help in the design of a financially viable subsidy scheme.

The research plans to use a combination of geospatial and survey data to analyse the effects and dynamics of electrification. The initial work will focus on Shan state.