Impact of rural electrification by FRES

FRES contributes directly to fighting poverty, increasing employment and improving living conditions in developing countries by providing the availability of power for households and small companies.

Our preference for the use of solar energy
 to generate electricity means that people use fewer fossil fuels, which benefits the environment. Together this leads to 
the improvement of living standards and boosts local economies in rural areas.

Some concrete examples of improved living conditions:FRES in South Africa - NuRa-DSC_0047

  • More economic activities
  • Longer days thanks to the availability of light, also in the evenings and at night
  • More safety on the streets thanks to (public) lighting
  • Better lighting in hospitals and schools
  • Improved access to means of communication such as radio, television and cell phones
  • Less fire hazard from falling candles or oil lamps
  • Lower costs for the same amount of lumen or kWh compared to the use of candles, oil lamps or private diesel generators.

In all countries where FRES is active it has become one of the large employers in the rural area where it operates by creating stable, well-paid, high-value jobs. Consequently, FRES is able to tie qualified personnel to the region.

Socio-economic research

FRES asked PWC to investigate the socio-economic impact of the availability of electricity on customers of FRES companies. The study was carried out in cooperation with the Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands). Baseline studies were conducted in Mali, Uganda and South Africa. These were followed by an impact study in Mali and South Africa. Local organisations, including SNV, held surveys.

Impact on education

The main results are that increased access to light has been shown to enable studying at night, contributing to an observed increase in the amount of time children spend on their education.

Impact on community as a whole

The quality of life is improved; for example, because people have more optional activities in the evenings, are able to charge their cell phones at home, and have more access to information and communication devices.

At the community level the impact is strongly positive with a large number of public buildings being electrified, as well as schools and health centres, municipal buildings, churches and mosques. Healthcare services benefit from increased light and increased power to refrigerate vaccines.

Impact on household incomes

The impact on household incomes was found to be strongly dependent on the regional (or national) context, and is much stronger in Mali, where small businesses are fairly common, than in South Africa, where they are sparse. Electricity enables entrepreneurs to expand their business, work longer hours or set up other small businesses.

Read the full report on research results.