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Legacies of a Past Modernism Discourses of Development and the Shaping of Centralized Electricity Infastructures in Late- and Postcolonial Tanzania

van der Straeten, J.; (2015) Legacies of a Past Modernism Discourses of Development and the Shaping of Centralized Electricity Infastructures in Late- and Postcolonial Tanzania. In: Dolan, T. and Collins, B., (eds.) International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure Conference Proceedings: 30 September - 1 October 2014 International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA),Schloss Laxenburg, Vienna, Austria. (pp. pp. 273-278). UCL STEaPP: London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

As the UN has declared the years 2014-2024 the “Decade of Sustainable Energy for All”, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa struggle with the transition towards more sustainable and more inclusive energy infrastructures. In many rural areas, electrification rates remain as low as 1-2%. For many countries, one of the main barriers for rural electrification is the legacy of a model of top-down planning, large-scale power generation and a centralized topology of the electricity infrastructure. Nonetheless, historiography on electricity infrastructures in Africa is nearly non-existent. At the example of Tanzania this paper shows, that the centralized power models which dominate the continent today were shaped by modernization and development discourses during the late colonial and post-independence period. Because of its particular characteristics, electricity lent itself perfectly to the goal of making development measurable — a goal which was essential to a “high modernist” vision of development, advocated by new nation states as well as international funders. The paper illustrates how large hydropower projects proved successful in expanding generation capacities and urban electrification rates, but failed in providing electricity to rural areas and created pathdependencies which have led to dead ends in the last 20 years.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Legacies of a Past Modernism Discourses of Development and the Shaping of Centralized Electricity Infastructures in Late- and Postcolonial Tanzania
Event: International Symposium for Next Generation Infrastructure Conference (ISNGI 2014)
Location: International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Schloss Laxenburg, Vienna, Austria
Dates: 30 September - 1 October 2014
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/steapp/isngi/proceedings
Language: English
Keywords: Legacy Infrastructure, Sub-Saharan Africa, Centralized Power Systems, Development Discourses, High Modernism
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > STEaPP
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1469410
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