Is electricity affordable and reliable for all in Vietnam?

Type Working Paper
Title Is electricity affordable and reliable for all in Vietnam?
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Access to clean and affordable energy for all is the seventh sustainable development goal. This
manuscript examines the state of access to electricity for all in Vietnam, based on national
households surveys conducted in the time period 2008-2014. We find that in Vietnam, the problem
of providing access to clean energy for all is largely solved for now: the fraction of households
without access to electricity is below two percent, the median level of electricity usage in 2014
was 100 kWh per month per household, the fraction of households declaring unsatisfied electricity
needs is below three percent. We find that electricity is becoming a heavier burden in Vietnamese
households’ finances. In 2010, the electricity bill exceeded 6% of income for 2.4% of households,
but in 2014 that number reached 5.5% of households. In practical terms, we discuss the challenge
of a socially just increase of electricity tariff, necessary to finance a clean development of energy
system. Our theoretical contribution to debates on energy poverty is to account for the human
dimension by using an self-reported satisfaction indicator. Our study shows that subjective energy
poverty indicators –designed from surveys asking people if they had enough electricity to meet
their households needs– are as relevant as objective indicators –from engineering or economic
data. While objectivity is laudable, development is not only about technology and money:
measuring human satisfaction matters.

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