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Title: Decentralised energy governance in the Global South : the case of Kenya since the implementation of devolution
Author: Sieff, Richard
ISNI:       0000 0004 9348 7232
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2019
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Drawing on nine months' field research in Kenya and using a predominantly qualitative methodology, this thesis investigates the role of decentralised governance in addressing Global South energy access issues. The study explores the concepts of decentralisation, governance, and energy access, engaging with overlooked debates concerning how these concepts interrelate and under what circumstances decentralised energy governance might help address Global South energy access issues. Concepts of scale and power are also explored, enabling new insights into the understudied area of how cross-scalar power relations play out in decentralised energy governance, while extending debates over whether the state should be viewed relationally. Critically, a spatial lens is applied to the aforementioned concepts and debates, developing new knowledge on how and the extent to which decentralised energy governance is spatially contingent. Framed within debates on multilevel governance, the thesis shows cross-scalar power imbalances have led to a more hierarchical form of energy governance emerging in Kenya relative to that intended by legislation – this has led to excessive emphasis on grid electricity which has been detrimental to addressing energy access inequities. The emergent decentralised energy governance is also found to have marked geographical variations, underpinned by a range of spatially contingent historical, socio-economic, and political factors. The overarching conclusion is that Kenyan decentralised energy governance needs to develop robust networks of local actors to provide effective checks and balances to ‘top-down' governance: without which, energy access inequities are likely to persist. These findings have broader conceptual and theoretical implications for decentralised energy governance in the Global South. Decentralisation is shown to have distinct relevance to energy as grid electricity remains one of the few remaining de facto state monopolies in the Global South: the implication being central governments will see this control as too lucrative and politically important to cede to decentralisation reforms. The findings also highlight marked geographical variations, revealing that decentralised energy governance needs to be understood not only relationally, as typically seen in political economy analyses, but also spatially. This understanding has important methodological implications as it signals that geographical empirical approaches are required if on the ground practices of decentralised energy governance are to be better understood and more effectively developed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Loughborough University ; EPSRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Energy governance ; Decentralisation ; Energy access ; Scalar power relations ; Spatial Variation ; Multilevel governance ; Global South ; Kenya