We seek to evaluate the impact of electricity provision on economic development, security and conservation. Our case study focuses on rural and urban communities nearby Virunga National Park, in Eastern Congo. The electricity is powered by hydro-electric plants and the roll-out of the grid is implemented by Virunga Energies. To learn about the causal effect of electrification, we rely on original survey data from close to 2,000 households and 700 businesses.

We investigate whether electric cooking can be a credible alternative to cooking with charcoal. Around 2.6 billion people remain dependent on biomass fuel for cooking. This has severe health, budgetary and environmental consequences. Switching from biomass fuel to cooking with green electricity has the potential to improve livelihoods and health outcomes while combating deforestation and climate change. The project takes place in the city of Goma, the provincial capital of North-Kivu. Goma’s 1.5 million inhabitants rely on charcoal as their primary source of cooking fuel. Since 2019, however, large parts of Goma are being connected to the green electricity grid of Virunga Energies.

We designed an RCT involving the distribution of 1,000 electric pressure cookers. We included different treatment arms to learn about factors affecting adoption, including financial and informational constraints. We further test a distribution model where the electricity provider provides the cookers at a 100% subsidy, which may be reimbursed through increased electricity revenues.

Ongoing work

“Electric Cooking and Sustainable Development: Experimental Evidence from Eastern DR Congo” AEA RCT Registry
With S. Desbureaux, L. Collart, M. Verpoorten, R. Soubeyran, M. Couttenier, N. Shinagawa, J.K. Mulwahili and C. Musharhamina 

“Powering development, stabilisation and conservation? The impact of electricity roll-out in Eastern Congo” Egap Registry
With E. Lunanga, E. Maombi, and M. Verpoorten.