It’s great to be able to write the first blog for our new research project. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council UK (EPSRC), the Department for International Development UK (DFID) and the Department of Energy & Climate Change UK (DECC), the SAMSET project will Support Sub-Saharan Africa’s Municipalities with Sustainable Energy Transitions.
Starting in October 2013, the partners met for an inaugural and planning workshop in Tanzania in early November. Led by UCL (University College London), the principal investigator was represented by his co-investigator Dr Xavier Lemaire. I am sure the team will be introduced one by one as we fill this blog, but in brief all the partners were represented at the meeting: Sustainable Energy Africa (SEA), Uganda Martyrs University (UMU), University of Ghana (UGU), Energy Research Centre (ERC) – University of Cape Town, Durham University and ourselves, Gamos.
As suggested by the title the project is to “design, test, and evaluate a knowledge exchange framework to facilitate the implementation of an effective sustainable energy transition in Africa’s Sub-Saharan urban areas”, and includes a strong action research component which involves close partnering with six cities in three African countries (two each in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa). In addition to our internal planning, we started our action research by dovetailing our meeting with the Local Climate Solutions for Africa 2013 organised by International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).
ICLEI had convened over 400 local government representatives mainly from Africa to discuss the implications of Climate change, and local climate solutions. This gave us a fantastic opportunity to consult our local government colleagues, and test our hypothesis against the realities of day to day life. Indeed the conference was co-hosted by Local Governments for Sustainability and the City of Dar es Salaam, and it was the various members of the City of Dar es Salaam that brought a grounded reality to much of the discussion. The mayor of Dar es Salaam explained in an eloquent way the challenges of a city that has infrastructure challenges and “spillover effects (relocation site), mobilizing public participation (Community Infrastructure Upgrading Program), local adoption of initiatives (Dar Rapid Transit), and capturing unplanned/informal areas (waste and waste-water sectors).