Sector Results and Learning:
Energy

This Energy Sector Results and Learning page is a repository of evidence generated by all MCC-funded energy interventions. To promote learning and inform future program design, this page captures monitoring data from key common indicators, showcases recent and relevant evaluations, and includes all agency lessons from completed energy evaluations to-date.

What Do We Invest In?

MCC has funded $1.3 billion in energy interventions as of March 2022. These interventions fall into the following categories: off-grid power infrastructure; on-grid power infrastructure; other energy infrastructure; and technical assistance.

Off-grid Power Infrastructure

These programs support the provision of electricity to areas that are not reached by the grid. This includes mini-grids and individual systems, such as solar photovoltaic systems.

On-grid Power Infrastructure

These programs address power generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure needs to promote the accessible, reliable, and sustainable provision of electricity.

Other Energy Infrastructure

These programs support non-electricity energy needs, including gas for cooking and heating, as well as energy efficient appliances.

Technical Assistance

These programs complement infrastructure investments to support affordable, financially sustainable, and reliable electricity service provision.

What Have We Completed So Far?

MCC and its country partners develop and tailor Monitoring and Evaluation Plans for each program and country context. Within these country-specific plans, MCC uses common indicators to standardize measurement and reporting within certain sectors. See below for a subset of common indicators that summarize implementation achievements across all MCC energy investments as of March 2022.

113

megawatts of generation capacity added

1,834

megavolt amps of substation capacity added

5,991

kilometers of electricity lines upgraded or built

44,507

customer connections added by project

What Have We Achieved?

MCC commissions independent evaluations, conducted by third-party evaluators, for every project it funds. These evaluations hold MCC and country partners accountable for the achievement of intended results and also produce evidence and learning to inform future programming. They investigate the quality of project implementation, the achievement of the project objective and other targeted outcomes, and the cost-effectiveness of the project. The graphs below summarize the composition and status of MCC’s independent evaluations in the energy sector as of April 2022. Read on to see highlights of published interim and final evaluations. Follow the evaluation links to see the status of all planned, ongoing, and completed evaluations in the sector and to access the reports, summaries, survey materials, and data sets.

Go to our List of Evaluations to see the status of MCC’s energy sector evaluations

Highlighted Evaluations

A large power generator against a grey, cloudy sky.

March 17, 2022 | Sierra Leone Threshold Program

Reforming the electricity sector in Sierra Leone

Electricity utilities’ capacity improved, but sustainability is in question

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $40.5 million Sierra Leone Threshold Program (2016–2021) focused on establishing a foundation for the effective and financially viable provision of electricity and water services in Freetown. The $11.9 million Electricity Sector Reform Project (ESRP) aimed to improve the electricity sector’s institutional and legal frameworks, planning capacity, and operational efficiency. The $7.6 million Regulatory Strengthening Project (RSP) aimed to build the capacity of the new regulator, improve sector governance and support the long-term financial sustainability of the electricity sector.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

Workers on power equipment in Malawi

March 1, 2021 | Malawi Compact

Improving Power Quality and Reliability in Malawi

The national grid was modernized but challenges with reliable power supply continue

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $351 million Malawi Compact (2013-2018) aimed to address electricity supply challenges through the $255.4 million Infrastructure Development Project (IDP). The IDP invested in the national electricity grid’s generation, transmission, and distribution infrastructure to increase grid capacity and stability. This supported the theory that achieving the project objectives of improved availability, reliability, and quality of the power supply would reduce the cost of doing business in Malawi, expand access to electricity for Malawians, and increase value-added production in Malawi.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

A drone image of the rehabilitated Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant.

September 21, 2020 | Liberia Compact

Increasing Access to Electricity in Liberia

Hydropower supply increased but utility company struggles to deliver power

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Interim

MCC’s $257 million Liberia Compact (2016–2021) aims to encourage economic growth and reduce poverty by improving access to reliable and affordable electricity. The Compact funded the $202 million Energy Project to generate low-cost power by rehabilitating the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant (MCHPP), to build capacity in the utility company, and to establish an independent regulator. The project aims to increase production and distribution of lower cost, quality electricity, reduce tariffs and user costs, and connect Liberians to affordable electric power.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

Brick house with a solar panel set up in front

October 22, 2017 | El Salvador Compact

Providing Off-Grid Electricity in Rural El Salvador

Household solar panels increase electricity use, but sustainability is unclear

  • Evaluation Type: Performance
  • Evaluation Status: Final

MCC’s $449.6 million El Salvador Compact (2007—2012) funded the $30 million Rural Electrification Sub-Activity, which included the $2 million Solar Panel Component to provide solar electricity to address energy needs where electrical grid extensions were not economically viable. The Solar Panel Component was built on the theory that providing solar electricity reduces use of alternative energy sources, in turn decreasing indoor air pollution, increasing leisure time, and improving children’s performance at school, all of which can help increase households’ health, economic productivity, and incomes.

Read Evaluation Details or the Evaluation Brief

Go to our Evaluation Brief page to see all completed energy sector evaluations

What Have We Learned from Our Results?

To link the evidence from the independent evaluations with MCC practice, project staff produce an MCC Learning document at the close of each interim and final evaluation to capture practical lessons for programming and evaluation. Use the filters below to find lessons relevant to your evidence needs.

  • A political economy analysis (PEA) conducted in compact development may have helped MCC to understand the incentive structure of the utility and the government.

    A political economy analysis (PEA) conducted in compact development may have helped MCC to understand the incentive structure of the utility and the government. After the Government of Liberia refused to extend the utility operations component of the management services contract with Manitoba Hydro International beyond December 2016, the Liberian government installed individuals in LEC’s management whose actions did not serve the best interests of the utility. Then, not respecting the operational independence of ESB International, the operator of a new management services contract in 2018, the government appointed (and refused to remove after numerous requests) another individual who interfered with loss reduction efforts and complicated the utility’s operations. These sorts of dynamics were something that MCC needed to better understand during compact development, however, measures to address them would reduce the country’s ownership for program success. Entrenched political interests resisted reform in the sector. The evaluation indicated that the management services contract would have benefitted from a utility-level and country-level PEA to help increase the likelihood of success. MCC is now conducting more political economy analyses as part of compact development.

  • High levels of commercial losses for a utility have serious sustainability implications, despite maintaining the economic benefit to the end users of electricity.

    High levels of commercial losses for a utility have serious sustainability implications, despite maintaining the economic benefit to the end users of electricity. The evaluation showed that commercial losses in Liberia are some of the highest in the world and have increased with the commissioning of Mount Coffee to about 58%. As more power became available on the grid and the utility has been unable to curb illegal connections, the long run prospects for the ability of the utility to maintain Mount Coffee and the transmission and distribution network are concerning. MCC is addressing this issue in Liberia by funding a survey to map out the assets of the utility and the customers connected to the grid through legal and illegal connections. However, while the mapping survey is a necessary condition for the utility to begin recouping the costs of operations and maintenance and become solvent, it may not be sufficient.

  • Donors and the utility needed to have a better plan for how to expand access to the grid once more power was available due to the Mount Coffee intervention.

    Donors and the utility needed to have a better plan for how to expand access to the grid once more power was available due to the Mount Coffee intervention. Mount Coffee coming online meant that there was substantially more power available, but the evaluation found that more power led to more illegal connections to the grid. This was because the utility did not have the resources to expand connections at a rate that could keep up with the pent-up demand. Donors committed to expanding the network to different geographic zones, but households and businesses just outside of those zones had access to the grid, but no way to get a legal connection from the utility. Connections in these areas are now being served through illegal connections, exacerbating already high commercial losses.

  • When program “treatment” and/or implementation occurs prior to EIF or early in the program implementation period, independent evaluator assessments of implementation progress can be useful and can be used to inform programmatic decision-making and budget reallocations.

    When program “treatment” and/or implementation occurs prior to EIF or early in the program implementation period, independent evaluator assessments of implementation progress can be useful and can be used to inform programmatic decision-making and budget reallocations. This baseline/interim evaluation was timed at a point where other activities had already started and therefore contained both data establishing a baseline for certain outcomes, as well as interim findings assessing progress-to-date on implementation.  MCC was then able to use and learn from these early findings to support project implementation. Going forward, MCC may consider collecting interim evaluation data early in the implementation period to capture early learning.

  • Even within MCC’s stringent five-year time clock, donor coordination for big public works is possible with careful planning.

    Even within MCC’s stringent five-year time clock, donor coordination for big public works is possible with careful planning. Because Mount Coffee was a large, multi-donor effort, MCC had to find creative solutions to amend its standard processes, like accepting the procurement guidelines of other entities and finding a way to make payments outside of MCC procurement structures. While the evaluation found many challenges with the contract mechanism, MCC ultimately succeed in completing the Mount Coffee Hydro Powerplant. Early engagement with the project implementers and engagement stakeholders familiar with similar projects was critical.