Smart Villages aims to provide policy makers, donors and development agencies concerned with rural energy access with new insights on the real barriers to energy access in villages in developing countries – technological, financial and political – and how they can be overcome. We are have chosen to focusing on remote off-grid villages, where local solutions (home- or institution-based systems, and mini-grids) are both more realistic and cheaper than national grid extension. Our concern is to ensure that energy access results in development and the creation of ‘smart villages’ in which many of the benefits of life in modern societies are available to rural communities.


For press information and images, please contact Smart Villages:


Project Leadership

Smart Villages is lead by Dr Bernie Jones and Dr John Holes. Profesor Sir Brian Heap serves as Senior Science Advisor. The project also has a steering group consisting of Prof Howard Alper, Prof Peter Nolan, Prof Deepak Nayyar and Prof Diran Makinde. Full details of the team members and biographies can be found here.


A pack of images from the project can be downloaded here with explanatory notes. These images can be used without permission.

Our Flickr account contains and archive of images many of which have been uploaded with a creative commons licence and can be used without permission.


The following quotes can be used without permission:

Our starting point for the ‘smart village’ is that access to modern energy services can act as a catalyst for development – in education, health, food security, productive enterprise, environment and participatory democracy. As such, energy access can provide a much needed driver for sustainable economic development and growth for a major (circa 2 billion people), but neglected, sector of the world’s economy.” – Dr Bernie Jones & Dr John Holmes

Energy provision is on the agenda for the new Sustainability Goals and both ourselves and Practical Action Consulting are looking to provide policy guidance on how best to reach ‘last mile’ remote off-grid communities. Holding workshops in key regions enabled us to gain a better understanding of local solutions and experience that yields broader lessons.” – Dr John Holmes

Above all we listened to local villagers and took into account their needs and aspirations. From our very first workshop, in Tanzania in 2014, we were rewarded with insights that previous top-down projects would have been overlooked. We have been especially struck by the desire for villages to become more entrepreneur-friendly environments.” – Dr John Holmes