Renewable Energy And Decentralisation (READ)

Over the last ten years African governments have moved increasingly towards decentralized budgets, giving local authorities increased powers and budgets to govern areas that include both rural and urban population. Yet while the larger urban areas have municipal authorities charged with understanding and implementing new ways of supplying energy to their urban citizens, the authorities governing Africa’s rural poor in small and medium towns in the surrounding rural hinterlands have rarely considered energy infrastructure. Existing research indicates that many local authorities in Africa and beyond are struggling, as they lack the capabilities and often the resources necessary to govern the complex social, political and economic situations they face daily.

Local authority capacity across Africa therefore poses a fundamental challenge for successfully implementing clean energy for development programmes. In short, decentralization, if properly resourced, could open the way for local authorities to become champions and drivers towards cleaner energy, but at the same time, lack of capacity, resources and capabilities could also prove a major barrier to implementing clean energy development in African states.

There has, however, been precious little research done on exploring the relationship between decentralization and energy governance and it is this major gap which this research project seeks to address.

The primary objective for this project has been to scope the implications for energy governance caused by the political process of decentralisation occurring across African states, and activities and outputs include:

Developing Tools To Improve Decentralization: Building on the body of work presenting practical guidelines for assessing and strengthening local authority energy proficiency (

Developing Tools To Improve Energy Literacy For Local and National Governance: The capacities and capabilities decentralized authorities must have to govern are shaped by their understanding of energy literacy (US DOE, 2013) ( ). Energy literacy includes the knowledge to trace energy flows and think in terms of energy systems; to know how much energy the community uses and for what; to know where energy comes from and can come from; the ability to communicate about energy and energy use in meaningful ways; and the ability to make informed energy and energy use decisions based on an understanding of impacts and consequences.

A full range of project outputs can be found on the Project Homepage.



Loughborough University


Practical Action (East Africa)


Project website

READ Project Homepage

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