Universal electricity access is an important development objective, and the focus of a number of key global UN initiatives. While the methodical planning of electricity infrastructure is widely believed to be a prerequisite for effective electrification, to date, no comprehensive overview of electricity planning research has been undertaken on sub-Saharan Africa, the world region with the lowest access rates. This paper reviews quantitative and qualitative electricity planning and related implementation research, considering each of the 49 sub-Saharan African countries, the four regional power pools and the sub-continent as a whole. Applying a broad understanding of electricity planning and a practical limit of 20 reviewed articles per country and region revealed 306 relevant peer-reviewed journal articles included in this review. A general classification scheme is introduced that classifies the planning literature along the addressed value chain depth, number of different analysed criteria and number of evaluated decision alternatives. The literature is found to be strongly clustered in a few countries, with less than 5 identified relevant articles in 36 of the 49 countries, although the total amount of articles per year is clearly increasing over time. It addresses a wide selection of generation technologies with foci on solar PV, hydropower and non-renewables as part of technology choice, operation, distribution and implementation analyses. Including different high-level criteria in analysing electricity systems is common, however the literature is only starting to use formalised multi-criteria decision making (MCDM) tools. The review indicates that 63 % of relevant articles favour renewable energy technologies for their given problems. Frequently mentioned success factors for electrification in sub-Saharan Africa include: adequate policy design, sufficient finance and favourable political conditions. While considerable regional and methodological literature gaps are apparent, the literature in this review identifies a rich and fruitful ground for future research to fill these gaps
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1209
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Early online date21 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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