An energy access assessment conducted by Practical Action in 2018 as part of the Renewable Energy for Refugees project established that most households and small enterprises in Kigeme, Gihembe and Nyabiheke refugee camps in Rwanda had limited or no access to electricity. It also identified both demand in the camps for modern energy services and a willingness and ability to pay. To address the lack of access to electricity, two solar home system companies operating in Rwanda were supported by the project to access the camps and supply systems to refugees and the host community via market-based delivery models. This paper applies the diffusion of innovations theory as a framework to investigate the sales of solar home systems in the camps. It is the first paper to present data in this area and it assesses both the viability of market-based delivery of solar home systems in refugee camps and the suitability of using diffusion of innovations theory in these contexts. The results indicate that solar home systems can provide an advantage to households compared to existing energy solutions and are, in most cases, compatible with refugees' basic energy needs and expectations. However, the cost of systems remains a barrier and without subsidy, further reductions in costs or adaptations to payment models, solar home systems are unlikely to provide large proportions of households and small enterprises in the camps with access to energy. This seriously impacts the possibility of achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 and for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to achieve the objectives it set out in its Clean Energy Challenge policy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The EPSRC funded the corresponding author's PhD research and the IKEA Foundation funds the RE4R project. The funders had no role in the design, implementation or analysis presented in this paper.
The authors would like to acknowledge the Practical Action, the UNHCR and the IKEA Foundation for collaborating on this project. Specific thanks to Sarah Begg, Tracy Tunge, Denyse Umubyeyi and Laura Clarke for collaborating on the design and implementation of the data collection strategy and for reviewing the draft version of this paper. A special thanks also to the field coordinators Berthille Kampire, Patrice Izerimana and Theogene Ndatimana whose work in the camps and insight has been invaluable. Peter Thomas would also like to thank Dr. Karen Bell for her support. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. The EPSRC funded the corresponding author's PhD research and the IKEA Foundation funds the RE4R project. The funders had no role in the design, implementation or analysis presented in this paper.
© 2021 International Energy Initiative
- Solar Home System
- Energy Access
- Diffusion of Innovations
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