Solar power and its discontents: Critiquing off-grid infrastructures of inclusion in East Africa

Jamie Cross*, Tom Neumark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Since 2010, solar energy companies in North America and Europe have played a pivotal role in delivering clean, reliable and sustainable electricity to millions of people living off the grid across sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, today, off-grid solar energy in Africa is no longer seen as an unmitigated social and economic good. Inflows of private equity investment have led the employees and customers of off-grid solar companies to question the industry’s commercial dynamics. Their critiques address the mis-selling of solar home systems and the technical limits of off-grid infrastructures for domestic production, framed both by dominant market paradigms and by relationships to nation, community and family. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in East Africa’s off-grid solar industry, this study assembles these critical perspectives into a wider analysis of off-grid solar power as an adverse ‘infrastructure of inclusion’.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopment and change
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021

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