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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Powering the City in the Global South: Increasing Energy Access for all in a Context of Urbanisation and Changing Governance


This paper addresses the role of governance of urban areas in shaping energy use in LICs and MICs, from the perspective of the poorest and disadvantaged. Urban dwellers in LICs and MICs often access electricity  through irregular, patchy and informal connections which are frequently considered illegal. This situation is closely linked to how urban areas develop in LICs and MICs, often with weak urban governance and little control, resulting in what is termed‘informal settlements’ and slums. Studies of urban infrastructure in LICs and MICs have tended to concentrate on water and sanitation networks, with comparatively very limited attention being paid to access to electricity. The paper reviews the literature that exists on access toelectricity in urban areas in the Global South, and draws on experiences in other urban infrastructures that may provide lessons towards improving such access for the poorest and disadvantaged.

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