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Reference Number ES/T006285/1
Title Energy Democracy and the Politics of Energy Transition in African Countries
Status Started
Energy Categories RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES 10.000%;
OTHER POWER and STORAGE TECHNOLOGIES (Electricity transmission and distribution) 10.000%;
OTHER CROSS-CUTTING TECHNOLOGIES or RESEARCH (Energy system analysis) 30.000%;
OTHER CROSS-CUTTING TECHNOLOGIES or RESEARCH (Environmental, social and economic impacts) 50.000%;
Research Types Basic and strategic applied research 100.000%
Science and Technology Fields SOCIAL SCIENCES (Economics and Econometrics) 30.000%;
SOCIAL SCIENCES (Development Studies) 30.000%;
AREA STUDIES (Middle Eastern and African Studies) 20.000%;
ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY (Electrical and Electronic Engineering) 10.000%;
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences) 10.000%;
UKERC Cross Cutting Characterisation Systems Analysis related to energy R&D (Other Systems Analysis) 50.000%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Environmental dimensions) 10.000%;
Sociological economical and environmental impact of energy (Policy and regulation) 30.000%;
Other (Energy technology information dissemination) 10.000%;
Principal Investigator Dr XML Lemaire

Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources
University College London
Award Type Standard
Funding Source ESRC
Start Date 01 March 2020
End Date 28 August 2023
Duration 42 months
Total Grant Value £1,337,142
Industrial Sectors
Region London
Programme ESRC - RCUK GCRF - Grants
Investigators Principal Investigator Dr XML Lemaire , Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources, University College London (99.991%)
  Other Investigator Dr JMP Cloke , Geography and Environment, Loughborough University (0.001%)
Professor PM Connor , Engineering, University of Exeter (0.001%)
Dr N Edomah , UNLISTED, Pan-Atlantic University (0.001%)
Dr E O E Eludoyin , Bartlett Sch of Env, Energy & Resources, University College London (0.001%)
Dr M Monyake , UNLISTED, National University of Lesotho (0.001%)
Dr M A Nchake , UNLISTED, National University of Lesotho (0.001%)
Dr II Soutar , Geography, University of Exeter (0.001%)
Dr B Tembo , Emerging Themes, Zambia Inst for Pol Analysis & Res ZIPAR (0.001%)
Dr B (Bridget ) Woodman , Geography, University of Exeter (0.001%)
  Industrial Collaborator Project Contact , Institute for Energy and Transport (IET), Joint Research Centre (JRC), Petten, The Netherlands (0.000%)
Project Contact , National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (0.000%)
Web Site
Objectives This project aims to provide a "pro-poor"/"pro-marginalised" integrated approach that links stakeholders of the energy sector at all levels (local, national and non-states actors) in three Southern African countries (Zambia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe) and in Nigeria. For this it will generate robust data on the relations between different actors from the energy sector in these countries faced with the challenge of energy transition; it will then help to implement effective policies and regulations to accelerate energy transition by promoting energy democracy.The project's objectives are:1. Carrying out a review of the published literature on energy democracy in order to deconstruct this concept and re-contextualise it in a developing country context; the ideology and social imaginaries of renewables will be made explicit;2. Retracing the history of renewables in the countries partners of the research project related to the trajectories of some local communities in these countries, taking their perspective, and determining how this has impacted their perception of renewables;3. Identifying at a national level the relations of power around energy planning and energy transition policies in the countries partners of the research project and determine how governance of the energy system could be improved by integrating actors of the civil society in decision processes;4. Identifying at a local level the relations of power around the implementation of a number of small-scale renewable energy projects in the countries and determine if decentralised renewables can lead to the involvement of local communities in decision-processes and reduce inequalities in terms of access to resources, life chances, opportunities and balance of power;5. Helping local policy-makers and communities of the country partners of the research project to design a number of more inclusive regulatory tools and energy policies;6. Organising capacity building events to help local policy-makers and communities to implement concretely these regulatory tools and energy policies in the African countries partners of the research project;7. Disseminating the outcomes of the research in other regions of Africa and globally.By producing case studies to be integrated in curriculums of African Universities and policy briefs for policy-makers, by assisting policy-makers in country partner of the project in implementing/redesigning energy policies to make them more inclusive (inclusive energy policies which will then be used as showcases for other countries), the project aims to initiate a debate around the democratisation of the energy sector and will help to reframe the debate around energy transition and will contribute in the long-term to put energy democracy at the centre of any future investment decision in African countries.
Abstract Historically, electrification in developing countries has been led by efforts to provide centralised, large-scale generation, as was the case in developed countries. Latterly, policies and regulations to facilitate energy transition toward low-carbon generation of energy have on the whole been designed for industrial countries, and then transferred to major developing countries with some success in major emerging countries (for instance in South Africa). These approaches have so far achieved little impact in Least Developed and low-income countries. This is mainly due to the relative weakness of their institutions and of attendant regulatory architectures, and a lack of adequate governance structures to implement them. In the case of many African countries, moreover, planning for energy transitions is made more complicated by the competing priority of increasing access to modern energy services, as well as by the political economy competition between centralised, clientelist states and varying degrees of initiatives towards decentralization and devolution of powers towards local governance structures.RETs production and deployment have risen substantially globally, on the back of huge industrialisation and subsequent cost reductions in the order of 80%. In many low-middle and middle-income developing countries the question is, how can the strategic political understanding of many of these countries which is dominated by grid outreach be changed to incorporate the substantial decentralized, off-grid provision that will be necessary to achieve both effective outreach and low carbon transition? If the habit of centralized monopoly can be broken in African countries with small electricity markets by the introduction of RETs, will this lead necessarily to more decentralised systems or, on the contrary, will centralised systems be perpetuated with the same limited number of players? And in the case that decentralised RETs are being implemented will this lead to a democratisation of the energy systems or to the reinforcement of non-democratic local authorities?The research will survey current practices associated with decentralization and local governance of energy supplies, consider established good practice and look to build routes forward with wider stakeholder communities. It will consider also the evolution of social imaginaries linked to energy transition in African countries, from national governments down to local communities. How can policy-makers in the energy sector integrate RETs in their way of thinking? Do they perceive differences with conventional energy technologies - not just technical differences but also differences in terms of social implications, and do they understand the implications for local governance through formal and informal structures, and any existing political decentralization initiatives? How might perspectives best be changed to enable both RET deployment and enhanced energy access? Are grass roots organisations capable of proposing, developing, operating and maintaining an alternative vision? Do they perceive RETs as having the potential to empower local communities, or as 'second-hand electricity'? What are the needs of communities not just in terms of energy, but also in terms of the role they can take in meeting those needs and in working with providers to enable access which meets those needs most effectively? What financing models would best enable this? What other elements of regulation can help to enable all of this? What is required to happen amongst governance organisations to enable a shift from the centralised to a decentralised model?
Publications (none)
Final Report (none)
Added to Database 26/05/21