The provision of electricity alone is not enough to improve livelihoods and break the cycle of poverty. A rethinking of rural electrification is required. This was the challenge undertaken by over 30 professionals from 20 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe who participated in GIFT’s Global Leaders Programme (GLP) in December 2014, conducted in Lao PDR in partnership with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia Pacific (ESCAP) and the country’s Ministry of Mines and Energy (MEM).

ESCAP is pioneering an initiative called Pro-Poor Public Private Partnerships (5P) to tie electrification more closely to increasing economic activity and improving livelihoods. The model works to establish renewable energy utilities through public and private sector investment which include communities as key stakeholders. It is based on a small-scale hydro utility in Indonesia which is co-owned by the local community and was established by previous GIFT partner IBEKA.  The GLP participants were tasked with producing recommendations for how public policy and private sector expertise could be combined to support rural electrification and promote rural enterprise development in Lao PDR and the wider region.

For a summary of the programme check out the programme Round-Up and Photo Story.


UNESCAP 5P, projects funded by


Participants from CLSA worked with Sunlabob Rural Energy Limited whose overall goal is to scale up its existing businesses to provide renewable energy and value-added services to remote rural communities through a commercially sustainable operation. Participants focused on a solar-powered water pumping and purification initiative and were tasked with developing a business plan for this project. The water initiative represents an exciting opportunity to harness renewable energy in the delivery of clean water – an essential basic necessity which 60 per cent of the Lao population still lacks access to.

For a visual overview of the programme please see the photo story of the Laos YLP, where the CLSA executives create an expansion plan for electrification and clean water initiatives for rural Laos.