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Paradoxical impacts of electricity on life in a rural South African village

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  • Matinga, Margaret Njirambo
  • Annegarn, Harold J.

Abstract

Debates on the nexus between energy and development emphasise that access to modern energy carriers such as electricity improve development outcomes. This paper discusses the impacts of electrification on educational outcomes, gender and power relations, income generation, feelings of inclusion and exclusion and health in the village of Tsilitwa in the rural Eastern Cape, South Africa. It is based on an ethnographic grounded theory study conducted in 2009. The paper shows that the impacts of electricity may not match the benefits cited in the literature, and are not experienced in the same way by everyone in the community. The study uncovers the weakness of ignoring individual and group agency, and the complexity of social settings when advocating interventions to improve quality of life. The paper recommends that researchers and policymakers consider using ethnographic methods to complement other methods and reveal context and its implications on the energy–development nexus that other methods may not capture.

Suggested Citation

  • Matinga, Margaret Njirambo & Annegarn, Harold J., 2013. "Paradoxical impacts of electricity on life in a rural South African village," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 295-302.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:58:y:2013:i:c:p:295-302
    DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.03.016
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kaoma, Humphrey & Shackleton, Charlie M., 2015. "The direct-use value of urban tree non-timber forest products to household income in poorer suburbs in South African towns," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 104-112.
    2. Hirmer, Stephanie & Cruickshank, Heather, 2014. "The user-value of rural electrification: An analysis and adoption of existing models and theories," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 145-154.
    3. Matinga, Margaret N. & Pinedo-Pascua, Irene & Vervaeke, Jonathan & Monforti-Ferrario, Fabio & Szabó, Sándor, 2014. "Do African and European energy stakeholders agree on key energy drivers in Africa? Using Q methodology to understand perceptions on energy access debates," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 154-164.

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