The multidimensional impact of rural and urban electrification: economic development, security and conservation? Evidence from Eastern Congo. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2023


We measure the impact of electricity provision on economic development, security and conservation. Our case study focuses on rural and urban communities nearby Virunga National Park, in North-Kivu, DR Congo. Impoverished by two decades of armed conflict, the communities complement their livelihoods with the park's resources to make ends meet. These resources are also illicitly exploited by at least eight armed groups that have their hide-outs within the park's boundaries. The electricity roll-out is implemented by Virunga Alliance, a public-private partnership that seeks to bring about security and conservation through development. According to Virunga's theory of change, electrification will spur development, which will in turn reduce people's reliance on the park's resources as well as their support for, and participation in, rebel groups. The theory of change finds support in the literature, but needs further testing. To learn about the causal effect of electrification, we designed an impact evaluation that exploits the gradual roll-out of electricity, in combination with a difference-in-differences estimation. The treatment localities will be connected in the period 2019-2020; the control localities only at a later stage.


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  • Research Project