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Micro-generation in conflict: The conditions necessary to power economic development in rural Afghanistan

Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology, Loughborough University, UK

Topical Section: Energy Policy and Economics

Access to reliable electricity eludes many poor rural Afghan communities despite plentiful renewable resources. Micro-generation seems particularly well suited to Afghanistan’s mountainous, decentralised society but even with substantial investment since 2001 it has not lived up to expectations. Recognising the causes are likely to dwell in the human (rather than technical) domain, this study takes a qualitative, soft systems approach to deriving and validating the necessary conditions that might improve the success rate of micro-generation projects in enabling sustainable economic development. It acknowledges the governance limitations inherent in fragile states and the significance of the community as the most stable element of society, putting the latter at the centre of its thinking. Those conditions identified as critical are summarised as: a holistic approach that sees micro-generation as a component of broader economic development; an environment safe enough for project build and operation, and for the markets necessary for wealth creation; and external support to build community capacity to fund and maintain schemes through-life. These conditions are likely to have relevance for other fragile states; the next step is to develop them in the field before deployment as part of a comprehensive approach to poverty alleviation in Afghanistan and similar states.
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