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The Political Economy of Low Carbon Energy in Kenya

Program Duration: 2013 – 2014
Program Contacts for ATPS: Dr. Nicholas Ozor, Executive Director, ATPS.
Program Coordinator: Dr. Nicholas Ozor
Project Value: GBP 25,000


This study is a partnership project between the University of Sussex (Institute of Development Studies IDS) and the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS). The Study aims to understand the politics and political economy of Kenya’s energy sector with a view to identifying key opportunities and barriers to the further development of renewable energies in the country. It explores the history and development of key energy initiatives, policies and regulations with the aim of understanding how relations of power, actor networks and interests and the role of key institutions enable or frustrate change. This is aimed at providing an understanding of the regime and landscape for the country’s apparently successful Solar Home System. 

The specific objectives are to establish:

  • The role of actors within the state: relationships between different ministries with responsibility in the energy policy domain: who wields most power over which policies, how and why?
  • The role of non-state actors: how powerful are business, NGO and other groups in shaping energy policy and the perceived costs and benefits of different technologies, policies and electrification strategies?
  • The role of external drivers- foreign investors, regional and international institutions, carbon and climate finance funding streams: how far do they shift incentives, change the balance of power within and beyond government in favour of some actors and energy options over others? How far does the Kenyan government have the power and autonomy to shape these flows in ways that reflect their development priorities?
  • The uniqueness of the political and economic context in Kenya which has enabled the success of initiatives such as Solar Home Systems and which conditions might be replicable in other countries in the region. 


The key steps of the study are:

  • Overview of the political economy of the energy sector in Kenya, drawing from existing literature. 
  • Stakeholder mapping, identifying key actors in the diffusion of SHSs in Kenya, through documents; discussions with the partners and researchers of the on-going CDKN project; and later triangulation.
  • Analysis of the role of these actors in (a) enabling this project to succeed (b) frustrating further progress (c) identifying future lessons. 
  • Draw conclusions leading to policy recommendations summarised in a report. 


Case study report for CDKN on the political economy of energy in Kenya as it relates to this project- key conclusions plus reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of a ‘political economy’ analysis.

Joint journal article(s) involving the above collaborators.

Published IDS Working Paper on the political economy of low carbon energy in Kenya Available online at:

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