Mapping Country-wide Energy Access for the Majority World

Project Team

  • Neeti Pokhriyal, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of  Computer Science
  • Soroush Vosoughi, Assistant Professor, Department of  Computer Science
  • Emmanuel Letouze, Community Member, Data-Pop Alliance

Project Abstract

Access to energy directly translates to a multitude of factors affecting human development, that includes quality of education, health, gender equality, air and water quality and combating climate change. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, around 620 million people would still lack access to electricity in 2030 with 85% percent of them in Sub-Saharan Africa and 2.3 billion people would not have access to clean cooking fuel by 2030. A pivotal step in bringing universal access to electricity and cleaner fuels is to create a baseline of current access across the country, which helps in understanding how and where energy is used at a country-wide scale. Current ways to estimate energy needs for poorer economies are based on statistical modeling using census and household surveys, which are money and time intensive and are at coarser spatial granularity and delayed in time. These national averages are not at a resolution that can be effectively utilized by policy planners as they hide the heterogeneity that exists at sub- national levels. We propose to build a comprehensive methodology for calculating country-wide energy access, that could better inform energy policy, infrastructure planning and sustainable development. Our proposed framework efficiently combines multiple sources of data like satellite imagery, mobile phone data, electricity infrastructure data with traditional data sources, like census and surveys to accurately predict country-wide access of electrification and cooking fuels at micro- regional level. Our target country is Senegal. We will build a computational model to map the energy access across Senegal, which is trained on 2013 satellite, mobile phone and census data, and tested with newer (2020) data to get estimates of energy access that are relevant in 2020-2021. Since, our work closely aligns with UN-SDG 7 and we provide the capability to frequently monitor the country-wide energy access landscape, this work is also important for agencies like United Nations Development Program (UNDP) that monitor a country's progress towards achieving the goal.