93 countries have an MVA:MW ratio of 4 or under. The great majority of countries in this range have Lower or Lower Middle Income economies, mostly developing countries in Asia or Africa. These countries have low electrification ratios. The term “electrification” does not necessarily mean household electrification. In India a village is classified as “electrified” by the Ministry of Power if only one electric connection point exists. 86% of villages are classified as “electrified” but only 32% of rural households have direct access to electricity. Because of distance and low demand in rural areas, Isolated systems and renewable sources are used to reduce the need for transmission. The priority in these countries is to deliver power for centralised use, particularly industrial or governmental. In some African countries the numbers of electricity customers is extremely small .
In many Low Income countries it is imperative to substitute electricity or another commercial fuel for firewood. High levels of deforestation exist in many countries and are on the increase. This not only causes ecological problems but uses too much labour. In Nepal forest covers 37% of the land area and is diminishing at 100,000 hectares a year, while only 15,000 hectares are being reforested. It is estimated that in the worst cases family members spend no less than five hours a day searching for firewood.
Rural electrification is regarded as a priority in Upper Middle and Lower Middle Income developing countries which are through the first economic hurdle, for several reasons. There is a genuine desire on the part of governments to improve living conditions and to increase literacy by enabling people to read at night. Perhaps more pressing reason is a direct result of the rush for development, the need to reduce the flow of rural population into cities. The emergence of “mega-cities” in the developing world is a phenomenon of the last two to three decades and has urgent implications for network planners. The population of Mexico City now exceeds 17 million. Before the massive inflow of rural population no electricity was consumed for water and waste, which were catered for locally. The consequent drain on the economy and the retardation of development is obvious. If rural areas had been electrified the emigration to cities would have been reduced and local economies enhanced. The inefficiency is compounded by the fact that when populations arrive in cities not only is the cost of other infrastrucutural support services higher but large urban areas then have to be electrified.