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Least-cost electrification Pathways for Madagascar

The Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden was invited to participate in the Least-Cost Electricity Access Project for Madagascar together with the World Bank and other local and international partners. In the project, the OnSSET tool was used and customized to examine affordable electrification pathways for Madagascar.


Madagascar's electricity sector, which is strongly affected by the socio-political crises of 2002 and 2009, is characterized by several structural failures, notably due to insufficient production capacity and saturated transmission networks. Installed system capacity totals 4.4 MW, of which 30% is renewable and 70% is thermal, while conversely renewable energy provided 70% of the energy produced. Today, the persistence of investment delays for the expansion and maintenance of the electric power system has led to a quasi-permanent sectoral emergency, in which the country has established numerous and very expensive contracts with independent operators of small-scale thermal power plants in an attempt to meet growing energy demand.

Recognizing that the electricity sector has become a major obstacle to economic growth and development in the country, the Government developed the New Energy Policy (NEP) in 2015 with three main objectives: (i) ensuring universal access to Modern energy services; (ii) improving overall energy efficiency; and (iii) increasing the share of renewable energy in the production fleet.

The NEP 2015 estimated the national electricity access rate to be 15%, significantly lower than the average rate in sub-Saharan Africa (37.5% in 2014), indicating that more than 20 million people lack access to electricity in Madagascar. Moreover, the difference between rural and urban areas is very pronounced, with an access rate of 55% in urban areas and only 5% in rural areas.

Today, several factors pose challenges to national electrification efforts, including low population density and high costs to connect consumers; a saturated transmission network with limited scope; expensive power production

with little maintenance; the weak financial status of sector utilities; and the lack of a shared vision of expanding access to electricity.

Aim and objectives

The overall scope of this assignment includes:

  • Data gathering, and validation as appropriate for a high level electrification rollout implementation strategy analysis, leading up to the assembling of all the digitized data layers to support spatial planning. These shall broadly encompass, but not be limited to: (i) where the people without access and other potential beneficiaries are – locations of priority service delivery facilities such as schools, health clinics, administrative centers, major productive load centers – household spatial settlement patterns and extent of spatial nucleation across and within settlements, etc.; (ii) digitized representation of existing MV networks and lines, the national grid system and the main bulk supply delivery points – existing and planned - (iii) data on renewable energy resource availability, at each sub-location; (iv) other socio-economic-indicators;
  • Projections of electricity connections and demand for the population with no or inadequate electricity services at a disaggregated level (by sub-locations and aggregated for presentation to district and province at a minimum); The focus should be on an integrated technical planning approach, combining the top-down (master plan) projections with bottom-up spatial (least cost) model and load forecasts.
  • Comparison of different technologies and electricity supply options (technical and economic viability), cost comparison, and the estimate of total costs for electrification at each sub-location (investment and operating), including national grid-based medium voltage network extensions and new connections roll out thereof. Off-grid applications include expansion of existing isolated networks and supply, development of new mini-grids and supply, and individual household or institutional systems, using renewable energy as appropriate and as much as possible. This will be done with the least-cost electrification tool OnSSET.

Project partners

Funding is provided by the World Bank.

Timeframe: 2017 - 2018


Andreas Sahlberg
Andreas Sahlberg
doctoral student
Babak Khavari
Babak Khavari
doctoral student
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