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Village-level solar power in Africa: Accelerating access to electricity services through a socio-technical design in Kenya
Department of sociology and human geography, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.
Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway .
The Energy and Resources Institute, TERI, New Delhi, INDIA.
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 000-0003-3945-0183
2015 (English)In: Energy Research & Social Sciences, ISSN 2214-6296, Vol. 5, 34-44 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Village-level solar power supply represents a promising potential for access to electricity services. Increased knowledge is needed for the development of solutions that work for the users and are viable in the long run. This article analyzes a solar power model developed and tested through action research in collaboration between a community in Kenya and a team of social scientists and technical experts. The analysis includes the reasons for its socio-technical design, and the actual functioning of the model. The research shows that an energy center model can cover basic electricity needs in areas with dispersed settlement patterns, where mini-grid based systems as well as conventional grid extension meet significant challenges. Such areas are representative for large geographical areas in Africa. We show that portable lanterns and low prices may enhance access to suitable services. Committed follow-up of the local actors, and a flexible socio-technical design – allowing for improvements after implementation – contribute to economic sustainability and smooth functioning. Close attention to the socio-cultural context and the challenges of users, operators and managers is required. Our research draws on theories of socio-technical change and users’ innovation, and presents a five-step analytical framework for analysis of village-level power provision.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2015. Vol. 5, 34-44 p.
Keyword [en]
Science and Technology Studies, off-grid energy supply
National Category
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology) Human Geography Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-114818DOI: 10.1016/j.erss.2014.12.009OAI: diva2:792622
Available from: 2015-03-04 Created: 2015-03-04 Last updated: 2015-03-20

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Rohracher, Harald
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Technology and Social ChangeFaculty of Arts and Sciences
Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)Human GeographySocial Sciences Interdisciplinary

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