Achieving Universal Access to Electricity and Cleaner Cooking Fuels in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Stakeholder Influence Analysis of Energy Sector Development in Rwanda
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In the past decades the global development community has created numerous aspirations for ‘the future we want’, which has up to this day resulted into a focus on sustainable and renewable developments to increase our wellbeing while at the same time combatting climate change. A sector that gained high priority to fulfil these aspirations is the energy sector. While renewable energy strategies are increasingly implemented around the world, the primary goals for many countries in sub-Saharan Africa remain universal access to electricity and cleaner cooking alternatives. To support the countries, the involvement of non-state stakeholders and stakeholder partnerships has gained increased attention, especially after the establishment of the SDGs in 2015. However, it has been unclear what their influence means for energy sector development in these countries. One of the countries lacking universal access to energy, but simultaneously going through a rapid economic development is Rwanda. Recent outcomes in energy policy development have attracted the arrival of multiple private sector investors and partnerships to support the distribution of decentralised energy systems, which led to a shift in sector donor support from mainly funding public institutions to an increased balance between public and private support. However, despite the rise of these stakeholders and stakeholder groups, it remains difficult to rapidly expand access to electricity and clean cooking alternatives. This research has therefore taken Rwanda as a suitable case to investigate the influence of the increased number of stakeholders in an economically emerging country with similar challenges as other sub-Saharan African countries. The findings show that up to this day non-state stakeholders and partnerships have not been able to fill the gaps in sector development perceived by the Rwandan government and households. The main issues within the energy sector are threefold: i. The low financial capacities of households in rural areas to afford decentralised energy systems ii. The inferior value of decentralised energy systems compared to centralised energy systems iii. Stringent financial mechanisms that lead to failure of private sector projects The findings further suggest that non-state individual stakeholders operating in Rwanda have more influence on energy sector development than most partnerships. The main issue here is that partnerships are often physically absent from the country and struggle with internal interactions. Lastly, this thesis provides recommendations for governments, non-state individual stakeholders and partnerships to assure the growth of a thriving energy sector in Rwanda are more widely in sub-Saharan Africa.