Operationalizing affordability criterion in energy justice: Evidence from rural West Africa

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Affordability of energy is at the heart of the concept of energy poverty but also an important criterion for energy justice globally. Yet, in developing countries where households predominantly rely on traditional energy sources, measuring the cost of energy goes beyond the price of the fuel and includes other non-monetary costs, such as the time spent and the distance travelled for fuel collection. This paper thereby proposes a redefinition as well as an operationalization of the affordability criterion within the energy justice framework. The outcomes are applied to data obtained in rural Benin, Senegal and Togo. The results suggest that, on average, the opportunity costs related to energy collection represent between 29 and 35% of household income in rural areas. Additionally, failing to account for the non-monetary costs of energy consumption in rural locations may lead to categorizing at least 17% of households as having access to affordable energy, when in fact these households spend substantial amount of time in fuel collection. The study also suggests that reducing income poverty and promoting better access to modern energy sources, through rural electrification programs, are critical to ensure energy affordability in rural West Africa.

This content has been updated on 6 April 2022 at 9 h 59 min.