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This summary of key findings and recommendations of the Smart Villages Initiative over the period 2014–2017 is intended to inform policy-makers and development organisations in the European Union concerned with rural development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It draws on a detailed report of the findings (Holmes, 2017), which in turn provides links to the wealth of underpinning material generated by the Smart Village Initiative’s engagement programmes and research over the 3-year period (available at www.e4sv.org).
The aim of the Smart Villages Initiative has been to identify the framework conditions necessary for the provision of energy services to villages to enable the livelihood opportunities, provision of services (healthcare, education, clean water and sanitation) and empowerment embodied in the Smart Villages concept. In this concept, the provision of sustainable energy services to rural communities, in turn enabling the connectivity made possible by modern information and communication technologies, can have a catalytic impact on the lives of villagers when appropriately integrated with other rural development initiatives (Holmes and van Gevelt, 2015). Smart villages provide many of the benefits of 21st Century life to rural communities, and reflect a level of rural development consistent with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).