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[en] With 1.2 billion people still lacking electricity access by 2013, electricity access remains a major global challenge. Although mini-grid based electrification has received attention in recent times, their full exploitation requires policy support covering a range of areas. Distilling the experience from a five year research project, OASYS South Asia, this paper presents the summary of research findings and shares the experience from four demonstration activities. It suggests that cost-effective universal electricity service remains a challenge and reaching the universal electrification target by 2030 will remain a challenge for the less developed countries. The financial, organisational and governance weaknesses hinder successful implementation of projects in many countries. The paper then provides 10 policy recommendations to promote mini-grids as a complementary route to grid extension to promote electricity access for successful outcomes. - Highlights: •The academic and action research activities undertaken through OASYS South Asia Project are reported. •Evidence produced through a multi-dimensional participatory framework supplemented by four demonstration projects. •Funding and regulatory challenges militate against universal electrification objectives by 2030. •Innovative business approaches linking local mini-grids and livelihood opportunities exist. •Enabling policies are suggested to exploit such options.