Negotiating the labyrinth of modernity's promise: a paradigm analysis of energy poverty in peri-urban Kumasi, Ghana

Odarno, Lily Ameley
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University of Delaware
Energy poverty in developing countries has been conventionally attributed to a lack of access to sufficient, sustainable and modern forms of energy (ESMAP 2001; Modi et al. 2006). Per this definition, Sub-Saharan Africa is the most energy poor region in the world today. In line with this, efforts at addressing energy poverty in the region have concentrated on the expansion of access to modern energy sources, particularly electricity. In spite of the implementation of diverse energy development interventions, access to modern energy services remains limited. That energy poverty remains one of the most pressing challenges in Sub-Saharan Africa today in spite of the many decades of energy development necessitates a candid and thorough re-evaluation of the questions that have been traditionally asked about this issue and the solutions that have been offered in response to it. Based on theoretical analyses and empirical studies in peri-urban Kumasi, Ghana, this study attempts to offer some of the much needed re-evaluations. Using Kuhn's paradigm approach as a conceptual tool, this dissertation identifies peri-urban energy poverty as a paradigm-scale conflict in the modern arrangement of energy-development relations. By emphasizing the importance of context and political economy in understanding energy poverty, the study proposes strategies for an alternative paradigm in which energy-development relations are fundamentally redefined; one which enlists appropriate knowledge, technologies, and institutions in addressing the needs of the energy poor in ways which promote environmental values, social equity and sustainable livelihoods.