Blackout or Blanked Out? : Monitoring the Quality of Electricity Service in Developing Countries / William Seitz, Joao Pedro Azevedo, Yuya Kudo.

Seitz, William [Browse]
Washington : The World Bank, 2023.
1 online resource (21 pages).


Policy research working papers. [More in this series]
Summary note
Access to reliable electricity is a Sustainable Development Goal, and key for both economic growth and individual wellbeing. Yet, in the absence of sophisticated monitoring systems, policy makers in developing countries commonly rely on surveys to measure electricity reliability and prioritize investments. The accuracy of such survey-based methods is unclear. This study built a low-cost national electricity outage monitoring network, using off-the-shelf components in Tajikistan - a country with severe electricity service constraints. The system was introduced alongside a monthly household survey called Listening to Tajikistan, which allowed benchmarking the survey summary statistics against unbiased measures. The results show that although the two measures were well correlated, the survey data suffered from significant and systematic bias. Survey respondents (i) systematically underreported the incidence and severity of electricity outages on average, but (ii) systematically overreported the incidence of outages during a period of abnormally widespread service disruption of long duration. These findings suggest that bias in survey-based measures is sensitive to the salience of outages to the respondent, and that, where feasible, automated electricity monitoring can provide more accurate quality measurement. For survey settings, the results also suggest that estimates are more accurate over short (daily) reference periods.
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Blackout or Blanked Out?
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