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Experimentation in an African Neighborhood: Reflections for Transitions to Sustainable Energy in Cities

Abstract

Studies on transitions to sustainable energy in cities point to different types of experimentation including niche experiments, bounded socio-technical experiments, transition experiments and grassroots experiments. This paper argues that experimentation in African cities cannot be definitively framed into such types because each case harbors a unique perspective with implications for how it is understood conceptually. This is based on a transdisciplinary inquiry into waste to energy pilots in an informal neighborhood of Kampala city, which demonstrated how a network of community actors overcome not only energy but also health and poverty-related challenges, through recycling waste materials for production of energy briquettes. Their experimentation is majorly driven by the following: (i) the desire to overcome confinement to services regulated by government and (ii) promoting alternative sources of cooking energy that stem from locally available technologies. Overall, the case study points to how transitions to sustainable energy in cities can start in experimentation at neighborhood scale, using alternative cooking energy solutions as the anchorage.

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Funding

The study received a support from the International Council for Science (ICSU), under the Leading Integrated Research on Agenda 2030 (LIRA), GRANT NUMBER: LIRA2030-GR09/17.

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Correspondence to Kareem Buyana.

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Buyana, K., Byarugaba, D., Sseviiri, H. et al. Experimentation in an African Neighborhood: Reflections for Transitions to Sustainable Energy in Cities. Urban Forum 30, 191–204 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12132-018-9358-z

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Keywords

  • Experimentation
  • African cities
  • Informal settlements
  • Sustainability
  • Energy
  • Transitions