Self-Help programmes encourage grid-connection





Connection to the electricity grid ensures that rural communities have access to a reliable source of energy, which can greatly improve the life of poor households. In Ghana the government has initiated a Self-Help Electrification Programme to help rural communities connect to the national grid. The SHEP offers to connect communities within 20 kilometers of the existing grid provided these communities can demonstrate a minimum number of 30% interested households, and supply the necessary low-voltage wooden poles and the labour to put them up. The government then completes the connection, and subsidises household connections to stimulate demand.


The idea: 


Access to a reliable source of energy is central to improving the lives of poor communities in developing countries. Connection to the existing national electricity grid provides households and communities with a reliable source of electricity, and can improve economic development and standards of living.

In 1989 the Government of Ghana undertook a National Electrification Planning Study. Following this study, the National Electrification Scheme (NES) was created, which has the objective of providing electricity to all major communities in Ghana by 2020. The Self-Help Electrification Programme (SHEP) was initiated in 1989 as a supplement to the NES.

The SHEP supports electrification in those communities that are no further than 20 kilometers from an existing High Voltage source supply, and which are willing to make a material contribution to the construction of distribution lines. To qualify for inclusion in the SHEP, communities are required to supply the necessary wooden utility poles for low-voltage distribution lines, and provide the labour to install these polls. These communities must also show that there is sufficient demand in to make electrification viable, and this is done by requiring the community to wire 30% of the households in the community themselves.

Once the community meets these commitments, the Government then completes the connection and provides conductors, transformers and other instillation costs and technical support. Once the community is connected, the electricity distributor manages the supply. For the first six months after connection the government subsidises the connection cost, in order to encourage people to connect, thus stimulating demand and giving an incentive to the distributor. For this first six months households can connect for about ¢5,000 (approx. US$0.75). After this initial period connection costs are much higher (about US$100).

The programme has been funded mainly by grants, concessionary loans from different countries (including India, Canada and Japan), the National Treasury, and taxes derived from the National Electrification Fund. The SHEP has proved very successful in electrifying communities close to the existing grid. The SHEP proved so popular that it was divided into several phases. By the end of SHEP III in 2000, a total of 1,887 communities had been connected to the grid, including all district capitals. Communities continue to be electrified under SHEP IV.


Where and When: Ghana, 1989 - present.