What are we measuring? An empirical analysis of household electricity access metrics in rural Bangladesh

Measuring energy access through binary indicators is insufficient, and in some cases even misleading. In this work, we critically evaluate the World Bank’s multi-tier framework (MTF) to measure household electricity access using a household survey in rural Bangladesh. 
We argue that the MTF addresses multiple objectives, thereby offering less value as a single composite index than as a set of dimensions along which to evaluate different aspects of electricity access. We test the robustness of the framework to alternative specifications as regards the choice of attributes and tier thresholds. 
The study shows that access measurement is highly sensitive to changes in parameter values, the application of different algorithms, and data availability. We also discuss the wider implications of applying the framework to current electricity access intervention programs in Bangladesh, provide feedback on the MTF’s design, as well as suggest potential improvements for its application in the future.

About the authors:
Sebastian Groh just finished his PhD on the role energy in development process at University of Aalborg, and is now CEO of ME SOLshare Ltd. in Bangladesh.
Shonali Pachauri is currently Senior Research Scholar in the Energy (ENE) Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). 
Narasimha D Rao’s research at IIASA examines the relationship between energy access, human development and climate change. 

Download the full study here.


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