What is the Smart Villages initiative?

In Smart Villages access to sustainable energy services acts as a catalyst for development – enabling the provision of good education and healthcare, access to clean water, sanitation and nutrition, the growth of productive enterprises to boost incomes, and enhanced security, gender equality and democratic engagement.

The Challenge

Unfortunately it is a fact that, in the world today, 1.3 billion people remain without access to electricity. In addition, 3 billion are still cooking on dangerous and inefficient stoves. Many of them live in remote rural village communities. Until such communities have access to modern energy services, little progress can be made to develop their economies and improve their lives.

Solar Pannel hut-3

The Smart Villages Programme

In each of the six regions a major international workshop brings together the diverse set of players from across the region, providing an open and stimulating environment conducive to generating new insights into how to tackle the challenges of village energy access for development. Follow-up activities include briefing meetings for policy makers, innovation competitions to generate new ideas, training courses and further workshops. A final event in each region draws together lessons learned in conjunction with policy makers, donors and development agencies, and considers next steps. Crosscutting activities are developing supporting materials and ensuring that lessons are learned, and connections made, across the regions.


The provisional schedule of regional engagements is as follows:

  • East Africa: June 2014 to September 2015
  • Southeast Asia: January to December 2015
  • South Asia: February to October 2015
  • South America: February to December 2016
  • West Africa: April 2016 to March 2017
  • Central America and Caribbean: November 2016 to March 2017.

Two final workshops – provisionally in Brussels for the European Union and Addis Ababa for the UN and other global institutions – will draw together lessons learned from the project as a whole.