Promoting Rural Electrification in Myanmar

Project description

Title: Promoting Rural Electrification in Myanmar
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Co-funded by: New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Country: Myanmar
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI), Department for Rural Development (DRD)
Overall term: 2016 to 2020


Myanmar’s rural regions exhibit far higher poverty rates than the country’s urban areas – making rural development a top priority for the nation’s government. Despite its abundant energy resources, Myanmar has the lowest electrification rate in the region (~34% nationwide). Indeed, its remote communities are permanently without a reliable energy supply. Promoting rural electrification is therefore key to inclusive socio-economic development.

In late 2015, Myanmar’s Government approved its National Electrification Plan (NEP) which aspires to achieve universal electricity by 2030 by means of a sector-wide approach involving:

  • Grid extension
  • Pre-electrification in rural areas prior to the arrival of the national grid
  • Permanent mini-grid and off-grid connections in remote areas

On behalf of Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ is assisting Myanmar’s Government to implement NEP’s off-grid component with its specific focus on mini grids.

GIZ has decided to concentrate on renewable energy-based mini grids for a number of reasons:

  • Local business and community development: Mini grids support entrepreneurship, leverage international investments, provide jobs and empower communities on several levels, advancing the country's overall economic progress
  • Sustainable economic development: Harnessing Myanmar's abundant renewable energy resources to develop commercially viable mini-grid business models will advance socio-economic (and thus rural) development - a declared priority of the current government
  • Best investment option: In the most remote areas where national grid extension is not yet an economically feasible option, renewable energy/hybrid generation is cheaper than fossil-fuel power generation.
  • Pre-electrification: Temporary mini-grid systems in rural areas can be hooked up to the national grid when it arrives


The overall objective is to hone and strengthen the competence of relevant public and private stakeholders involved in Myanmar's rural electrification process, enabling them to plan, develop and implement decentralised off-grid electrification solutions, primarily renewable energy-based mini grids.


Building on existing knowledge and local practices, the project is tasked with advising government officials at the union level and with promoting targeted capacity building and business development in Shan State. The approach comprises three main lines of action:

  1. Policy, strategy, regulation
    The project is tasked with advising the actors responsible for creating the framework conditions required for rural electrification, and for mini grids in particular. For example:
    • Develop rules and regulations for connecting mini grids up to the national grid
    • Provide state-of-the-art tools for the cost-benefit analysis of available rural electrification technologies and approaches
    • Conduct a GIS-based assessment of energy potential in Shan State
  2. Human resource development
    Strengthen the capacity of state and private sector actors to engage in off-grid rural electrification. This applies to technology, administration, management, business and operator models. For example:
    • Organise technical and administrative training for DRD staff at union and Shan State level
    • Arrange training on decentralised business models and technologies for renewable energy companies
  3. Private sector participation
    Actively engage the private sector in the design of framework conditions and support the transfer and exchange of knowledge. Furthermore, encourage people to share innovative rural electrification technologies. For example:
    • Organise policy-business dialogues between project developers, financiers and public institutions
    • Establish ‘practitioners’ forums’ where people can exchange knowledge and information on rural electrification practices
    • Support pilot installations of RE-based mini grids in Shan State