Energy and Inclusive Innovation by Rebecca Hanlin

Submitted by DPP on Thursday, January 31, 2013 - 14:50

I’m currently at an energy and international development event in Kenya.  This is the first time I’ve really forayed into the field of energy.  However, I see that its full of examples of potentially inclusive innovations.  There are improved cooking stoves that can be locally made which use less wood or charcoal and produce less emissions. At the other extreme are community mini-grids costing several hundred thousand pounds (sterling) with parts sourced from around Africa, built by a local African firm and provided through ingenious mobile payment or pre-payment mechanisms to local households and businesses.  However a question still remains as to how much are they pro-poor or inclusive; how much do they really improve livelihoods through promoting employment, access to goods and services more cheaply or create opportunities for reducing gender or disability bias. In a paper I am writing with a colleague we are reviewing the literature in this area and realising that these terms – developed at different times from different, although not totally competing, worldviews – have been taken up and banded around by many people.  But there remains a lack of comprehensive large scale review of what data is available to support these efforts and even less comprehensive policy available to promote inclusive innovation. I have been arguing for some time that we need a compendium of case studies that reviews the historical and current examples of pro-poor and inclusive innovation and reviews them against common criteria across the productive sectors. This workshop has highlighted the need even more strongly and the relevance for ensuring greater policy awareness and more informed decision making.