Analysing the impact of electrification on rural attractiveness in Senegal with mobile phone data

R Soc Open Sci. 2021 Oct 6;8(10):201898. doi: 10.1098/rsos.201898. eCollection 2021 Oct.


Reliable and affordable access to electricity has become one of the basic needs for humans and is, as such, at the top of the development agenda. It contributes to socio-economic development by transforming the whole spectrum of people's lives-food, education, healthcare. It spurs new economic opportunities, thus improving livelihoods. Using a comprehensive dataset of pseudonymized mobile phone records, we analyse the impact of electrification on attractiveness for rural areas in Senegal. We extract communication and mobility flows from call detail records and show that electrification is positively and specifically correlated with centrality measures within the communication network and with the volume of incoming visitors. This increased influence is however circumscribed to a limited spatial extent, creating a complex competition with nearby areas. Nevertheless, we found that the volume of visitors between any two sites could be well predicted from the level of electrification at the destination and the living standard at the origin. In view of these results, we discuss how to obtain the best outcomes from a rural electrification planning strategy. We determine that electrifying clusters of rural sites is a better solution than centralizing electricity supplies to maximize the development of specifically targeted sites.

Keywords: communication networks; developing countries; mobility networks; rural development; rural electrification.

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5641695