Fifty years ago, the development of rural and marginal urban electrification in Ecuador barely exceeded 50%. Practically half of the inhabited dwellings, some 600,000, did not have standardized electrical service. In addition, in those years, improvements in electricity coverage in the country implied great financial challenges, for example, for the development of new generation sources, together with the incorporation of infrastructure to transport energy to places of consumption.
However, in the last 20 years the country has invested more than 14 billion dollars in the electricity sector in increasing sources of generation, transformation and distribution of electricity. From the point of view of energy supply, the sector is supported and, in addition, it has energy sources of water origin.
Electricity coverage on the rise
As a result of permanent financial efforts by the State, Ecuador has managed to significantly reduce the electricity service coverage gap that existed in the 1970s. As highlighted in the following graph, as of 2019 more than 97% of homes have service continuous electric. Despite these advances, there are still some 150,000 homes pending normalized electrical service.
The medium-term planning, foreseen by the Ministry of Energy for the 2018-2027 period, includes a path to reduce the current coverage gap, which is close to 98%. However, the country can begin to structure programs and projects that allow it to achieve 100% coverage by 2030 to meet the goals established by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No. 7.
To address this challenge, it is important to move forward with electrification programs in homes located in areas that do not yet have this service, such as unregulated housing developments, located both in rural sectors and in marginal urban areas.
A virtuous circle that favors low-income families
Ecuador has a program to electrify homes in vulnerable areas. Within the framework of this program, once the identification of these dwellings has been formalized, originating in housing self-development, progress is made in the incorporation of standardized electrical service.
The IDB has contributed financing for US $ 123.5 million in the last 10 years. However, the demand for the electricity service of new homes continues to increase in the country, which presents a challenge to achieve the goal of universal access.
The electricity supply pillar of entrepreneurship and environmental sustainability and a gender approach
In rural areas lacking electricity service in Ecuador, there are two types of projects to be considered in a universal access program:
- Homes that can be connected to the national distribution system and;
- Individual homes or in populated areas located in isolated areas that combine solutions based on independent or centralized power generation;
The supply of electricity service through the rural and marginal urban electrification program plays a relevant role for the Ecuadorian State, when applied to low-income families. Therefore, the facilitating effect that this constitutes for the start of productive enterprises by members of the community is relevant.
Women play a fundamental role in the process of realizing the benefits of this type of project. For example, productive enterprises, micro-enterprises, -like those shown in the following images- where women are great beneficiaries of these projects and play a key role in the rural economy. productive.
New challenges for the country
The Government of Ecuador, through the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources (MERNNR), is in the process of promoting a policy and programs for Universal Access to Electricity by 2030, developing rural and marginal urban electrification, and incorporating objectives and budget in the Electrification Master Plan (PME).
The objectives set for the year 2027 postulate reaching an intermediate goal of 97.99% of national coverage, with which new groups of families will experience improvements in their quality of life by having electricity supply.
One challenge is the proper identification of families without access in rural areas. In addition, it is necessary to maintain efforts to keep the investment rate tailored to population growth and the development of rural economies and to serve, among other population groups, new migrants to rural areas.
The role of women in the use of electricity for productive uses is decisive to continue advancing in the sustainability of specific initiatives.
At the IDB, we will continue to support the efforts of the Government of Ecuador at the level of technical assistance and financing in order to achieve the long-awaited goal of universal access by 2030.
Likewise, the effort to normalize the service, in particular of the communities that inhabit marginal urban sectors, has as a counterpart, to resolve effects on the quality of service in the surroundings of these neighborhoods, due to the “informal hookups to the nearby electrical network” , which also generate commercial losses for electricity companies, due to unmeasured electricity consumption, which in some operations exceeded 40%.