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Improving rural access to electricity

Posted: 11 May 2023

Alumni, Rural development,

Australia Awards alumna, Hsu Mon Tun, is currently engaged as a consultant for an international NGO. She works on the development and implementation of a rural electrification project.

Electricity is critical for improving the quality of life, promoting industrial development and sustainable growth, foreign investment, and creating jobs. However, Myanmar is continuing to face electricity access challenges.

According to the World Bank collection of development indicators, 70.4% of the population in Myanmar had access to electricity in 2020.  Some reports suggests that the current percentage of the population with access to electricity in rural communities could be much lower.

To connect to the grid in rural areas, households must pay the high up-front connection costs. Although there is a significant financing need for rural electrification, financial institutions are hesitant to provide electrification loans, especially in the current high-risk environment.

Hsu Mon Tun and the international NGO designed a partnership project with a leading Microfinance Institution (MFI) where the MFI will provide the loans to the customers, and the international NGO will offer the portfolio guarantee for loan loss to MFI.

Hsu Mon Tun explains, “the purpose of the project was to connect the village households to have access to electricity along with access to finance to cover the connection costs.”

A cost-effective, scalable electrification solution of consumer finance and village electrification was tested for rural villages.

Hsu Mon Tun says, “We started the rural electrification pilot project in mid-2022 and will be running it for a year. After that we will be launching the program and, the project will be a model for other financial institutions and catalyse rural connection investments across Myanmar.”

Since the idea generation phase, Hsu Mon Tun has been involved in pitching ideas to the financial institutions and developing the portfolio guarantee design with the partnered MFI.

Hsu Mon Tun talks about her role in this project, “In the project design phase, I co-led the research in villages to understand the electrification needs of the villages and rural households to develop rural electrification loans. When the pilot implementation started, I was managing the multi-stakeholder teams for the implementation of the pilot.”

“As of now, we have electrified 40 villages from Ayeyarwady, Mandalay and Bago regions with our program,” she says proudly.

Hsu Mon Tun recalls her grandmother’s excitement when she recently used electricity in her village in Nyaung U for the first time at the age of 83. Hsu Mon Tun is grateful to have an opportunity to make a positive impact on rural communities by providing access to electricity through the rural electrification project.

“I believe electricity is a basic human need, and it is critical for poverty alleviation, economic growth and improved living standard.”

Hsu Mon Tun completed a Master of Business and Administration and Master of Marketing double degree at the University of Melbourne on an Australia Awards Scholarship in 2020.

She says, “My Master of Business and Administration helped me to be able to see a broader picture of the business and to be able to think strategically, be more data-driven, and be a better communicator and decision-maker.”