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Aiming for a moving target: The dynamics of household electricity access in a developing context

Author

Listed:
  • Tom Harris

    (DataFirst, School of Economics, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

  • Mark Collinson

    (MRC/Wits University Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Research Unit (Agincourt))

  • Martin Wittenberg

    (DataFirst, School of Economics, University of Cape Town, South Africa)

Abstract

We investigate household electricity access in a poor rural setting in South Africa, showing that the acquisition of connections is not the simple monotonic process often assumed in the literature. We argue that changes in household electricity access are a complex and changing outcome of two key time-varying processes: (1) net connections (new connections less disconnections) and (2) household formation and dissolution dynamics. In particular, we show that migration can occur in ways which either improves or worsens access. Even for households that stay in place we observe many disconnections. Therefore, in their efforts to improve access to electricity, governments in developing countries may in fact be aiming for a moving target – if the infrastructure is provided in places from which people are migrating, if many new households are being formed in un-serviced areas, or if existing connections are being lost.

Suggested Citation

  • Tom Harris & Mark Collinson & Martin Wittenberg, 2016. "Aiming for a moving target: The dynamics of household electricity access in a developing context," SALDRU Working Papers 195, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  • Handle: RePEc:ldr:wpaper:195
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    File URL: http://www.opensaldru.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11090/854/2016_195_Saldruwp.pdf?sequence=1
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    3. van der Kroon, Bianca & Brouwer, Roy & van Beukering, Pieter J.H., 2013. "The energy ladder: Theoretical myth or empirical truth? Results from a meta-analysis," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 20(C), pages 504-513.
    4. 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.
    5. Pachauri, Shonali & Jiang, Leiwen, 2008. "The household energy transition in India and China," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(11), pages 4022-4035, November.
    6. Balachandra, P., 2011. "Dynamics of rural energy access in India: An assessment," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 36(9), pages 5556-5567.
    7. Claire Vermaak & Marcel Kohler & Dr Bruce Rhodes, 2009. "Developing Energy-based Poverty Indicators for South Africa," Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, , vol. 21(2), pages 163-195, July.
    8. Winkler, Harald & Simões, André Felipe & Rovere, Emilio Lèbre la & Alam, Mozaharul & Rahman, Atiq & Mwakasonda, Stanford, 2011. "Access and Affordability of Electricity in Developing Countries," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 1037-1050, June.
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    Keywords

    Electricity access; energy; service delivery; household formation; South Africa;

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