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Emergence of a biofuel economy in Tanzania: Local developments and global connections from an institutional perspective

Author

Listed:
  • Saurabh Arora
  • Marjolein C.J. Caniëls
  • Henny Romijn

Abstract

Jatropha is emerging as an important biofuel crop throughout developing countries in the tropics. Initially lauded as an environmentally-benign ‘wonder crop’ suitable for arid wasteland cultivation that would avoid competition with scarce livelihood resources, it has recently begun to attract mounting criticisms related to competition with food production, biodiversity impacts, insecurity of land access by local populations, exploitative employment conditions, and disappointing effects on greenhouse gas emission reduction. In this paper we analyse the nature of the local developments that have given rise to these criticisms, and the underlying innovation processes and global forces that are driving the sector in the direction of these contested outcomes. We focus on Tanzania, an important forerunner in Jatropha biofuels production whose experiences have informed the international biofuel debate more broadly. Two surveys among biofuel actors in Tanzania held in 2005 and 2008/9 are the primary data sources. An extended innovation systems perspective is adopted, which is instrumental in studying patterns of global and local institutional embeddedness from a long-term perspective. These patterns are found to be key drivers behind the emergence and evolution of three distinct organizational models in the sector: local energy production and use for rural communities; decentralised subcontracting for centralised oil processors; and large centralised plantations. Socio-economic interactions in these models seem to be regulated by institutions put in place by colonial and early post-colonial governance of agri-commodity production and exchange. Each is also closely associated with different social (network) relations, organizational choices, economic viability, and environmental sustainability effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Saurabh Arora & Marjolein C.J. Caniëls & Henny Romijn, 2010. "Emergence of a biofuel economy in Tanzania: Local developments and global connections from an institutional perspective," Working Papers 10-09, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies, revised Oct 2010.
  • Handle: RePEc:ein:tuecis:1009
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Markus Balzat & Andreas Pyka, 2005. "Mapping National Innovation Systems in the OECD Area," Discussion Paper Series 279, Universitaet Augsburg, Institute for Economics.
    2. Bell, Martin & Albu, Michael, 1999. "Knowledge Systems and Technological Dynamism in Industrial Clusters in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1715-1734, September.
    3. Jacobsson, Staffan & Johnson, Anna, 2000. "The diffusion of renewable energy technology: an analytical framework and key issues for research," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 28(9), pages 625-640, July.
    4. Casson, Mark C. & Della Giusta, Marina & Kambhampati, Uma S., 2010. "Formal and Informal Institutions and Development," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(2), pages 137-141, February.
    5. Carlsson, Bo, 2006. "Internationalization of innovation systems: A survey of the literature," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 56-67, February.
    6. van Eijck, Janske & Romijn, Henny, 2008. "Prospects for Jatropha biofuels in Tanzania: An analysis with Strategic Niche Management," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 311-325, January.
    7. Metcalfe, J S, 1995. "Technology Systems and Technology Policy in an Evolutionary Framework," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 25-46, February.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Sustainable development; Globalization; Institutions; Energy; Biofuels; Jatropha;

    JEL classification:

    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General

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