Ruhr Economic Papers

Ruhr Economic Papers #464

Inside the Metrics – An Empirical Comparison of Energy Poverty Indices for Sub-Saharan Countries

by Gunther Bensch

RWI, 12/2013, 51 S./p., 8 Euro, ISBN 978-3-86788-524-9 DOI: 10.4419/86788524



With the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative led by the UN and World Bank, the provision of access to modern energy has recently been brought to the top of the international development agenda. However, there is yet little guidance on how to measure modern energy access or its deprivation, energy poverty. This paper discusses five energy poverty measurement approaches and compares their results empirically using a unique household dataset on five sub-Saharan countries. Due to a broad coverage of energy-related issues, this dataset accommodates the data requirements imposed by all metrics. The metrics turn out to perform quite differently in terms of the identification of the energy poor, sensitivities to parameter changes and data requirements. Based on the empirical findings, recommendations are made on essential features of the metrics to support the ambitious goals set out by the ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ initiative.

JEL-Classification: C81, I32, O13

Keywords: Energy poverty measurement; energy access; sub-Sahara Africa