LCT: Low cost energy-efficient products for the bottom of the pyramid



2015 – 2017

Project Coordinator:

Prof. Joanna Chataway, University of Sussex

In recent years, we have seen an increase in activity to provide energy to low-income households and communities in developing countries, through micro-grids and other methods of distributed energy resources. While studies have shown some improvement in people’s lives as a result of the incremental increase in access to lighting, there have been few studies evidencing broader improvement due to energy access. However, access to energy itself cannot change people’s lives; rather, it is what people use the energy for that does change lives: appliance loads such as household devices, workplace machines, clinical/medical devices, etc. These appliances can enhance quality of life, generate incomes and provide huge health benefits. Currently, the limited understanding and attention provided to the many market segments represented by the global poor, and of what types of powered appliances and products might change the quality of their lives (and, ideally, their economic condition) is extremely scarce.
Our research will use energy as the central theme to increase global understanding of the demand from various BoP segments with respect to low-cost energy-efficient technologies, and how such products can be sustainably developed and deployed in developing countries to have large-scale impact. Specifically, we will ask the following research questions:

What are the top- priority low-energy devices that have the potential to improve lives at the BoP? What are context and culture-specific design and operational parameters that will govern levels of low-energy consumption? What are acceptable price points and how will the devices be constructed and commercialized at those levels?

How can an effective innovation system be created to develop a continuous pipeline of pro-poor energy-related technologies?

What types of new partnerships and business models will lead to the uptake of innovative low-carbon clean energy and energy-efficient technologies at required speed and scale?


Project Outputs To Date

Training in Nairobi of 8 survey enumerators was followed by pilot testing of the choice modelling survey at a Nairobi market and the national nurses’ conference in Kisumu. Details of the choice modelling survey and updates on the survey itself can be found on this Facebook page:

In May 2016 the LCT project team presented the results from the first choice modelling survey of low cost energy efficient medical and domestic appliances in Kenya.  The survey investigated public perceptions of the design choices of a range of appliances.  The results will be used to help design more consumer friendly and energy efficient medical and domestic appliances for the Kenyan market.

For more information on this project, please email: 



African Centre for Technology Studies

Institute for Globally Transformative Technologies

The Nairobi Women’s Hospital

University of Sussex


Project website:

LCT Homepage   

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