Completed Research

Providing Electricity to Nomadic Herders:
Mongolia’s Renewable Energy for Rural Access Project

University of Toronto

Providing reliable, sustainable electricity to Mongolia’s 140,000 nomadic households. The World Bank’s Renewable Energy for Rural Access Program (REAP) helped the Mongolian government distribute over 100,000 solar home systems to rural nomadic families. At the project’s close, REAP improved the design and delivery of portable solar panels and provided 70 per cent of nomadic herders with electricity for their yurts.

The Hard to Reach

Nomadic households without consistent access to home electricity

Key Takeaways

REAP’s success ultimately lies in the dedicated engagement of development institutions such as the World Bank, working in coordination with local public and private actors to reach even the most remote herders. While public and private collaboration and coordination remained central to REAP’s success, there were several key program innovations that contributed:

  1. The effective use of the existing local administrative network to distribute panels enabled the program to use an existing service-delivery channel to expand distribution and after-sales services.
  2. By introducing quality standards, REAP could encourage herders to “trust” and adopt a relatively unknown technology. REAP ensured that herders were able to continually access repair services, ensuring they can use the product for its entire lifespan.
  3. Establishing well-designed cost-recovery mechanisms, such as the subsidy, and the international competitive bidding process ensured that affordability remained key in the procurement and sale of solar home systems.


This research was made possible through the Reach Alliance, a partnership between the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. Research was also funded by the Canada Research Chairs program and the Ralph and Roz Halbert Professorship of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with and learn from those we met and interviewed in Mongolia.

This research was vetted and received approval from the Ethics Review Board at the University of Toronto.