WHY DECENTRALISATION OF ENERGY GOVERNANCE MATTERS – THE CASE OF KENYA
Dr. Richard Sieff
The need to address Global South energy access issues – both electricity and clean cooking – is urgent and increasingly recognised as critical to achieving broader development goals. However, what is far less well understood is that decentralisation (the transfer of powers from a central to more local authority) has clear and distinct relevance to the energy sector and offers significant opportunities to accelerate more equitable access to modern energy services. Drawing on the findings of a four-year research project into decentralised energy governance in Kenya, this policy brief highlights the relevance of decentralisation to energy, the roles decentralised institutions could play, and the likely challenges to implementation and possible policy responses. Marked geographical variations in governance quality across four case study counties are also revealed.
• Decentralisation has clear and distinct relevance to Global South energy access issues.
• Power imbalances have resulted in energy access issues being addressed sub-optimally in Kenya due to excessive emphasis on national government grid electricity priorities, with urgently needed small scale off-grid electricity and clean cooking initiatives overlooked.
• Marked geographical variations in governance quality are evident at the sub-national level.
The key role of decentralised energy governance is to develop and maintain networks of local actors to advocate for and facilitate more locally appropriate energy access solutions (esp. clean cooking and small scale off-grid), while providing effective checks and balances to central government. To enable this role, the following are recommended:
• Clearer legislative demarcation between national and sub-national energy roles.
• Streamlined regulation to facilitate decentralised off-grid electricity initiatives.
• More geographically even capacity building.
• Increased community engagement.
• A facilitator (rather than implementor) role adopted by the sub-national government level, coordinating local actor networks to develop locally appropriate energy initiatives.
Contact details Dr. Richard Sieff Research Associate Geography and Environment, Loughborough University, Epinal Way, Loughborough LE11 3TU United Kingdom Email: R.Sieff@lboro.ac.uk