Boosting Electrification Ratio: Lessons from Vietnam
In 2014 Vietnam has been awarded by the World Bank as a developing country with the highest rural electrification ratio in the world (more than 99%). This success story comes with a long list of achievements in the last four decades. In the late ‘70s when the country was still reconstructing after the war, the ratio was only less than 5%. The huge increase happened in the early ‘90s when the abundance of generation resources met the connected 500 kilovolts (kV) line between northern and southern parts of the nation (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Development of electrification ratio in Vietnam 1975 – 2009 (Linnemann, 2011)
One of the international publications that comprehensively captured this remarkable achievement is the study by the World Bank in 2011. The study conducted a series of surveys in seven provinces from 2002 until 2008. Taken from the World Bank’s study are the following key lessons from Vietnam’s rural electrification experience:
- Strong Commitment by the GovernmentThe strong national commitment has been considered as the great foundation to achieve remarkable achievements by Vietnamese people in boosting electrification ratio by creating well-informed rural electrification programmes. Both local and central governments commit to prioritising rural electrification programme by mobilising their resources. The collaboration did not only include high rank officials but also commune-level authorities, local communities, and Electricity Vietnam or EVN (a state-owned utility company). Once the targets were set there was no option to back out of the promised original plans.
- Shared Roles and Responsibilities for All StakeholdersOne of the good examples of shared roles and responsibilities is the presence of cost-sharing among many parties. This strategy created two advantages resulting in i) more affordable projects by streamlining financing and constructing systems, as well as ii) stronger sense of ownership of the projects. The cost-sharing was borne by prime minister’s office, provincial, commune and local authorities offices. This example of collaboration-based approach has been proven effective to achieve the common goals.
- Suitable Technical AspectsMany involved parties in transmission and distribution have beneficially contributed to the increase of electrification ratio in the mid-’90s. However, the absence of uniformed technical standards among them created another challenge on how to keep the pace on the right track. Through government interventions, the unified national technical standards were introduced in the late ‘90s. The suitable technical standards have greatly improved the quality of electricity supply thus reducing technical losses, costs and the tariffs paid by end-users.
Photo Credit: Bahador
- World Bank (2011). State and People, Central and Local, Working Together: The Vietnam Rural Electrification Experience. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2011/03/13962533/vietnam-state-people-central-local-working-together-rural-electrification-experience
- Linnemann, Bjorn (2011). Rural electrification, path dependence and energy alternatives for sustainable development in Vietnam. http://clisec.zmaw.de/fileadmin/user_upload/fks/publications/theses/Thesis_Linnemann_2011.pdf
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