Measuring Energy Access

Supporting Sustainable Development through Knowledge
A Novel Indicator for Energy Poverty

A reliable and comprehensive information base is necessary to inform target-setting and to monitor outcomes. Openly available and visually attractive information presentation can support the design of innovative policies and measures, and underpin detailed analysis. UN-Energy, the interagency mechanism on energy issues of the United Nations System, and partners are taking concrete steps to enhance operational and delivery capacity by expanding its knowledge base and to share information.

The visualization platform currently features two complementary sets of data related to energy access in sub-Saharan Africa:

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The Multi-dimensional Energy Poverty Index (MEPI). Based on the concept of multi-dimensional poverty, the MEPI is a tool to evaluate energy-related deprivations. The index is composed of two components: a measure of the incidence of energy poverty, and a quantification of its intensity. More details on the methodology are available in Nussbaumer et al. (2011). Measuring energy poverty: focusing on what matters. Working Paper No. 42, Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). [link]

Providing a rigorous analytical basis for policy-making by developing and applying a robust set of metrics for measuring energy poverty is central to the implementation of any global, regional or national target. Designing the measurement toolbox and implementing a reporting system can help move energy access to the heart of the development agenda. The tools and data presented here contribute to efforts geared towards providing evidence-based information to inform the design and implementation of measures and policies to address the issue of energy poverty. It is a follow up previous work on the subject; see Bazilian et al. 2010. Measuring Energy Access - Supporting a Global Target. The Earth Institute, Columbia University.


As further useful information, the  International Energy Agency (IEA) has devised the Energy Development Index (EDI) in order to better understand the role that energy plays in human development. It is an indicator that tracks progress in a country’s or region’s transition to the use of modern fuels. More details on the methodology are available in IEA, UNDP, and UNIDO 2010. Energy Poverty - How to make modern energy access universal? Special early excerpt of the World Energy Outlook 2010 for the UN General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals. Paris: International Energy Agency.