Myanmar is emerging from the shadow of regime change with less than 35% electrification rate and very low population density. Myanmar’s electricity generation is lowest in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries. Lack of access to electricity restrains development and even the basic requirement of light is a challenge.
However, the country’s vast territory and low population density (70% rural population) mean that reaching large swaths of the rural population through traditional grid extension is difficult. If the Myanmar government can catalyse a thriving private market for off-grid products in rural areas, rapid rural electrification is possible without a heavy burden on public finances. As such, the creation and development of a robust off-grid electrification policy framework is important for the Myanmar government and its citizens.
An off-grid policy framework for Myanmar would offer the private-sector regulatory transparency and certainty, encourage investment in off-grid electrification, help end-users gain access to finance, and strike the right balance between affordability and profitability. Ideally, this will allow the private sector to develop a market for distributing affordable solar lanterns, home systems, and community micro-grids of different sizes to rural communities. These technologies will allow rural households to use electric appliances for lighting, telecommunications, and other productive purposes. The goal of this policy brief is to contribute to the development of an enhanced policy framework for off-grid electrification in Myanmar.
To achieve this, direct interviews of professionals, policymakers and ecosystem enables will be conducted. This will be accompanied by in-depth secondary research on existing schemes, policy frameworks and best practices.
The policy insights from the brief are expected to provide a solid basis both for a sustained dialogue with the key authorities on potential policy and programme improvements, and for a more long-term research programme on Myanmar’s energy access challenges. Demand for this work has been expressed by the Director General of Department for Rural Development (DRD) - nodal agency at the Union level for off-grid electrification in Myanmar. Energy Specialists at the World Bank, IFC and private sector companies have also expressed interest in the proposed work and have emphasised its need in the current policy scenario.