Making the energy transition in rural East Africa: Is leapfrogging an alternative?
There is renewed optimism about the potential for leapfrogging in the rural energy sector of East Africa. By adopting highly efficient and renewable technologies many believe the region can rapidly bypass the conventional path of energy development and skip directly into the use of more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies. This study explores the potential for energy leapfrogging by examining three technological approaches targeted at rural households in East Africa: conventional grid expansion, renewable energy technologies supplying electricity, and improved cookstoves. The study identifies economic, social, political, and cultural factors limiting the ability of rural people to rapidly switch into using and/or supplying these technologies. The potential for leapfrogging may be overstated by planners and experts who focus on the technical and economic viability of the technologies while insufficiently considering the social conditions and economic realities of daily life in the region. Moreover, energy leapfrogging itself is considered a misconception. Energy transitions in rural areas are incremental processes-not leaps-dependent upon household and regional accumulations of technological capabilities. These capabilities have technical, organizational, and institutional components and are manifest in individuals' capacity to adapt to new technologies, their ability to take economic risks, and in their desire to modify their behavior. In designing technology dissemination or energy supply projects, planners must thoroughly account for the capabilities existing in rural areas. © 2001 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.
Technological Forecasting and Social Change
Africa, energy policy, renewable energy techologies (RETs), rural energy, technological change
Murphy, James T., "Making the energy transition in rural East Africa: Is leapfrogging an alternative?" (2001). Geography. 421.