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

  • Matinga, Margaret Njirambo
  • Annegarn, Harold J.
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    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.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513001705
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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Energy Policy.

    Volume (Year): 58 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 295-302

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:enepol:v:58:y:2013:i:c:p:295-302
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/enpol

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    1. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto Chong & Suzanne Duryea, 2008. "Soap Operas and Fertility: Evidence from Brazil," Research Department Publications 4573, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    2. Eliana La Ferrara & Alberto E. Chong, 2009. "Television and Divorce: Evidence from Brazilian Novelas," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6760, Inter-American Development Bank.
    3. Bensch, Gunther & Kluve, Jochen & Peters, Jörg, 2011. "Impacts of Rural Electrification in Rwanda," IZA Discussion Papers 6195, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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    5. Gustavsson, Mathias, 2007. "Educational benefits from solar technology--Access to solar electric services and changes in children's study routines, experiences from eastern province Zambia," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 1292-1299, February.
    6. Bensch, Gunther & Peters, Jörg & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2012. "Impact evaluation of productive use—An implementation guideline for electrification projects," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 186-195.
    7. Peters, Jörg & Vance, Colin & Harsdorff, Marek, 2011. "Grid Extension in Rural Benin: Micro-Manufacturers and the Electrification Trap," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(5), pages 773-783, May.
    8. Benjamin A. Olken, 2006. "Do Television and Radio Destroy Social Capital? Evidence from Indonesian Villages," NBER Working Papers 12561, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Khandker, Shahidur R. & Barnes, Douglas F. & Samad, Hussain A., 2009. "Welfare impacts of rural electrification : a case study from Bangladesh," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4859, The World Bank.
    10. Jörg Peters, 2009. "Evaluating Rural Electrification Projects - Methodological Approaches," Ruhr Economic Papers 0136, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
    11. Taryn Dinkelman, 2011. "The Effects of Rural Electrification on Employment: New Evidence from South Africa," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3078-3108, December.
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