Powering sub-Saharan Africa's urban revolution: an energy transitions approach

Author(s): Silver, Jonathan, Marvin, Simon

Publication date: 27 September 2016

Publication type: Journal article

Journal: Urban Studies


This paper develops a geographic understanding of urban energy transitions in sub-Saharan African towns and cities. In doing so this paper seeks to critically reflect on the value and limits of urban transitions analysis as a framework for understanding energy networks beyond the largely integrated systems across the Global North. We explore how these potentials and deficits can be addressed by examining promising developments across a series of debates in urban studies that can help sensitise this approach to energyscapes in the African context. By reviewing urban transitions analysis through these debates the paper offers four important contributions to expand existing ways of understanding energy transition. These include the particular urbanisation dynamics of African towns ands cities, the need to locate the urban across energy regimes, the agencies of various intermediaries and urban actors and the contested politics inherent in the governing of energy networks. In the conclusion we reflect on the specific directions that have emerged from the paper in relation to our contributions, offering a geographically informed framework that allows us to better examine the challenges and specificities of transition across these rapidly growing urban regions.

The article can be viewed here