A PESTLE analysis of solar home systems in refugee camps in Rwanda

P J M Thomas*, P Sandwell, S J Williamson, P W Harper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)
482 Downloads (Pure)


There is a paucity of data on energy access in refugee camps and limited analysis regarding the viability of modern energy technologies such as solar home systems in these contexts. This paper addresses these by presenting an overview of the household and small enterprise electricity access situation in Kigeme, Nyabiheke and Gihembe camps in Rwanda and through the application of a Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental (PESTLE) analysis to assess the barriers influencing solar home system provision. Most households and small enterprises currently have limited or no access to electricity and there is significant unmet demand for energy services such as mobile phone charging, lighting, and entertainment in the camps. The analysis suggests that solar home systems can meet these energy needs and identifies important factors in ensuring projects are successful. Projects should be informed by the needs and priorities of end-users and should be aligned with national policies, such as achieving Tier 2 energy access, to garner political support. Where possible, local market systems should be nurtured to normalise paying for energy products and to avoid free distribution. This can support private sector engagement and result in longer system lifetimes through improved maintenance. Energy literacy programmes can also improve awareness of solar home systems and their benefits compared to traditional sources of energy. These findings can inform practitioners on the supporting policy/financial frameworks, design requirements and implementation measures needed to maximise the benefits of future solar home system projects and help achieve electrification targets.
Original languageEnglish
Article number110872
Number of pages12
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Early online date6 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the IKEA Foundation for funding the RE4R project and thank all the members of the project who collected the data, provided feedback during the development of the paper, particularly from Practical Action who also allowed the reproduction of Fig. 2 . Peter Thomas would also like to acknowledge the EPSRC for funding his PhD and Karen Bell for her support. Philip Sandwell would like to acknowledge the support of EPSRC ( EP/R511547/1 and EP/R030235/1 ) and Research England GCRF QR Funding, and thank his supervisor Professor Jenny Nelson.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • energy access
  • humanitarian energy
  • solar home systems
  • PESTLE analysis
  • refugee
  • Rwanda


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