Achieving universal electricity access in Cambodia

Published onJune 28, 2018

One of the main goals of the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation 2016-2025 is ensuring that the citizens of ASEAN have accessibility to electricity. Over the past two decades, ASEAN countries have improved in leaps and bounds with regards to providing electricity for all their citizens. The electrification rate has risen 28 percent since 2000 and now 90 percent of Southeast Asia has access to electricity. However, Southeast Asia is a large and diverse body of nations; while some countries such as Singapore might have 100 percent access, others are worse off. Countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Cambodia have lower electrification rates compared to the rest of the region, with 95 percent of those without electricity in the region concentrated in these four countries. In Southeast Asia as a whole, Cambodia has one of the lowest electrification rates. Currently, Cambodia’s electrification rate is just 60 percent, with only 62 percent of villages and 53 percent of households having access to grid quality electricity in the country…

…one of the problems that Cambodia has to overcome when providing electricity for its rural communities is the high prices of electricity tariffs. High installed capacity built in Phnom Penh has led to an uneven distribution of electricity and the accompanying costs. Phnom Penh consumes most of the electricity generated in the country but the cost is spread to smaller provinces as well, making it more expensive for rural communities. To overcome this, the International Energy Agency (IEA) recommends extending grid networks to distribute electricity. Since rural communities in Cambodia are spread out across a wide area, grid extensions allow electricity to be distributed to a broad area while also integrating with existing smaller networks.