Community engagement is essential to ensuring the sustainability of mini-grid projects and enabling communities to reap the full benefits of electrification, including improved livelihoods, health benefits, new employment opportunities, empowerment of women, and more. This strategy has also been tagged a high-priority concern by government members of the Low Emission Development Strategies (LEDS) Global Partnership’s Africa Mini-Grids Community of Practice (AMG-CoP). This case study builds on experiences shared by AMG-CoPmembers and further explores best practices for community engagement in the design and implementation of mini-grid projects. It draws particularly on recent activities in Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
• Community engagement is key to ensuring mini-grid project sustainability and realizing the full socio-economic potential of rural electrification programs.
• Governments across Sub-Saharan Africa are exploring ways to incorporate community engagement activities into their programs—effectively learning by doing.
• The experiences from Nigeria and Sierra Leone offer useful lessons for designing and implementating community-engagement programs and activities.
• Multi-stakeholder partnerships and inclusive approaches form the basis of effective implementation; gender mainstreaming should be considered a crucial component.
• Past community engagement programs have been successful, but continuous community engagement activities through long-term engagement programs are needed to fully capture the long-term development benefits of mini-grid electrification.