05 July 2017

Improving Energy Access to Rural and Urban Poor in Southern Africa: The Role of Law and Legal Policy (5-6 July 2017)

Professor Raphael Heffron , (Queen Mary University of London) and Elijah Sichone (Executive Secretary, Regional Electricity Regulators Association of Southern Africa)

Time: 09:00
Venue: 5A.120, Colchester Campus

The Centre for Environment and Society at the University of Essex in collaboration with the Environmental Regulatory Research Group at the University of Surrey and the School of Law, University of Lincoln
invites paper abstract submissions for their proposed interdisciplinary workshop:

"Improving Energy Access to Rural and Urban Poor in Southern Africa - The Role of Law and Legal Policy"
Wednesday 5 -Thursday 6 July 2017

After decades of energy modernisation projects, Africa continues to have the lowest electrification rate in the world at 26% of households, meaning that nearly 550 million people on the continent are without access to electricity (Africa Partnership Forum, 2007). Access in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is worse still, at only 24% of the region’s residents. That figure compares with 36% for East Africa and 44% for West Africa.

Although various energy modernisation projects have been undertaken in Southern Africa, these have tended to focus on macro level interventions which concentrate on maintaining supply to industry. Supply for domestic consumption has often been ignored. Limited energy access means the majority of SADC citizens cannot fully enjoy their human rights to health, education, shelter, food and democratic participation. Despite the importance of energy in the realisation of many critical rights, SADC energy policies are often characterised by the absence of inputs from or regarding citizens. These policies also tend to lack a methodology for encouraging and measuring such participation.

But change is underway. SADC countries have signed up to several international efforts to help close the energy gap. Initiatives such as the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All and the region’s own Regional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Strategy and Action Plan, require SADC states to achieve three linked objectives: providing universal access to modern energy services; doubling the share of renewable energy; and doubling the rate of energy efficiency. Achieving these goals will require a massive transition of their energy systems. Law and legal policy will play a central role in managing and delivering such a transformation across different sectors.


This workshop seeks to contribute to research and learning on the law and policy for energy transitions by focusing on the regulatory and institutional challenges in improving energy access to the rural and urban poor in SADC. Although the problem of exclusion is being increasingly recognised, some key questions remain: What are the critical regulatory and institutional considerations? What legal forms are being pursued to ensure policy success, particularly in resource-constrained environments? What regulatory and institutional commonalities are emerging; and what are the prospects for converging these? What are the successful institutional and regulatory design features? What challenges remain in order to achieve these?

The workshop goal is to enable outcome-oriented interaction between experts, innovators, and front-end users of the evolving energy regulatory space and in particular incubate the development of collaborative projects between participants on legal and policy strategies to improve energy access in SADC and other developing countries.


We seek a range of papers, including those arising from empirically-based fieldwork, action research or reflective and philosophical inquiry, which investigates key aspects of legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for energy regulation and energy justice widely construed.  While SADC will be the main focus under discussion, contributions focusing on energy transitions in other jurisdictions in order to stimulate cross-learning and comparative approaches are welcome.

Some topics of interest include but are not limited to:

• Analyses focusing on the links between lack of access to modern energy services and issues of human rights protection and energy justice;
• Critiques of the latest concepts and approaches in energy access in developing countries;
• Examination of international case studies on regulation of energy assets and services for universal access;
• Consideration of questions regarding appropriate avenues of public participation in the design and operation of energy systems, in particular microgrids and other offgrid solutions;
• Considerations of the role of legitimacy, accountability and equity in institutional and regulatory design;
• Proposals for new legislative or regulatory mechanisms that would ensure sustainability of new energy systems;
• Identification of methodologies that highlight institutional and policy lock-ins that prevent energy transitions and suggestions for strategies for unpicking those lock-ins.
• Empirical methods for investigating energy networks and access, including network analysis, field experiments, and geo-spatial mapping.

Abstracts for poster presentations, short papers (10 minutes) and research papers (20 minutes) on these themes will be accepted until 30 May 2017. They should be a maximum of 300 words, in English, sent by email to Thoko Kaime tkaime@essex.ac.uk or Penny Castagnino pcasta@essex.ac.uk. Authors should include full contact information (name, institutional affiliation, mailing address, phone, fax and e-mail address).

Notification of acceptance will be sent by 31 May 2017.

The deadline for registration is 30 May 2017.   The workshop will take place at the Colchester Campus of the University of Essex from 5-6 July 2017.

Those interested in attending the workshop can register (free of charge)via Eventbrite, see link below.

Further information
For further information please visit: http://improving-energy-access-workshop.eventbrite.co.uk.