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Abstract

This paper examines the attempts of the government of Kenya and international development agenda to achieve the objective of providing energy access for all and facilitate empowerment and poverty reduction to the rural areas within the framework of sustainable development goals. Energy has been recognised as the key enabler of economic and social development, however, the efforts to bring energy access to women within rural communities are falling short. The policy tools and economic instruments prescribed to address energy deficiency are not designed according to the local socio-economic conditions, which will be examined through empirical evidence produced from an energy access project in Kenya. In the Last Mile Connectivity Project women are integrated into the project design in a piecemeal basis. Macroeconomic and structural drivers currently hinder women’s development in rural areas and prevent long-term access to economic opportunities and socio-economic growth, particularly for women suffering from rampant underdevelopment. This allows for the critical exploration of links between gender, energy, and poverty reduction within the international development framework under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals agenda. The remote locations are cumbersome, and the solutions prescribed by the international stakeholders are proving insufficient in the spreading of energy access to women, setting the ambitions of achieving long-term sustainable development at risk. Achieving energy access has positively impacted rural areas, but more should be done to provide sufficient energy to women in rural communities to increase their economic and social development because providing small-scale energy access levels in isolation might not adequately meet these goals. This analysis relies methodologically on a case-study of the Last Mile Connectivity Project in Kenya and on data analysis and interpretation of the overall off-grid solar energy levels in Kenya provided by International Renewable Energy Agency.

Note on the Author

PhD student from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London.

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