Substantial gains have been made in recent years in electrifying urban and peri-urban areas in the developing world, in partial fulfillment of the global commitment to ensure access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy for all by 2030. But additional efforts are required to reach slum dwellers, who often fall back on power theft or informal connections to obtain access to electricity. This kind of access, however, comes at a high cost for paying customers and distribution companies. Joint efforts by government, utilities, and local populations can break the vicious cycle of theft and poor service.
Early efforts to regularize electrical service to slums were half-hearted and had mixed results. However, several recent developments suggest a path to success. The government, the utility, and the local population must work together to provide everyone with safe, reliable, and affordable electricity.