We hear much about smart cities as a key feature of 21st-century life. But nearly half the world’s population, and 70% of the world’s poor live in the countryside. Can rural villages be smart too, and can energy access, appropriately integrated with other development initiatives, enable villages to be smart? My presentation will outline the work of the Smart Villages Initiative to explore these issues through a series of engagement events bringing together key front-line players in Africa, Asia and Latin America. I will summarise findings to date, focusing on the issues around establishing sustainable energy services for rural communities.