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Electrical Distribution Grid Maps

This predictive model maps medium-voltage electrical distribution infrastructure in any country, which helps governments, NGOs, and businesses plan future infrastructure and community development projects.


National estimates

Medium-voltage lines bring power from transmission lines and generators to communities, and knowing their location is critical for making decisions on where to place buildings, as well as internet and power. Our Electrical Distribution Grid Map model estimates the location of medium-voltage power lines with approximately 70% accuracy.

Public data sources

The model functions by applying custom algorithms to publicly available datasets. We used imagery from the the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) product, a NASA satellite imagery dataset that shows the earth at night; the MODIS land cover dataset, a global product providing land cover classifications for any location in the world; and roadway locations from OpenStreetMap.

Open outputs

In addition to sharing maps we've created for Nigeria, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote D’Ivoire, and Zambia, we are also releasing a section of code and a full tutorial on how our model is constructed, allowing anyone to replicate the model in new countries.

[Facebook’s Electrical Grid Maps] will greatly aid with planning for grid expansion to increase energy access and integrate distributed renewable energy resources.”

Who uses Electrical Grid Maps

This data is useful for organizations that work in infrastructure and sustainable development.

National and Local governments

Governments can use Electrical Grid Maps to understand where energy infrastructure exists today, and to plan electrification and other community development investments for the future.


Utility companies, internet service providers, and other businesses that deploy or rely on electrical infrastructure can use these maps to optimize their investments based on gaps in electricity access.


Nonprofits use Electrical Grid Maps to understand where infrastructure exists today, and to inform the provision of key goods and services, including connectivity, education, and water, to communities.


Building Electrical Grid Maps begins by taking monthly images from the VIIRS satellite, and creating a composite. We then apply a custom image processing filter to remove background and reflected light, and identify locations that consistently demonstrate night-time lighting. These then serve as a proxy for the existence of grid electricity. Using known electrical grids as templates based on data available from, we employ a custom algorithm to connect the communities and infer grid paths based on their likelihood to follow roads, avoid water, and follow the shortest paths possible. For more technical information about this methodology, visit:

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In the News

Get Involved

You can find the maps we produced for 6 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa on the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA’s) Humanitarian Data Exchange, and the code and documentation for replicating the model on Github. We hope the global community will build on this work to develop more accurate outputs for more countries. We look forward to seeing this work evolve, and encourage the community to keep the outputs open by sharing them on the Humanitarian Data Exchange or similar platforms.

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