Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Public service or commodity goods? Electricity reforms, access, and the politics of development in Tanzania
by Ghanadan, Rebecca Hansing, Ph.D., University of California, Santa Barbara, 2008, 293; 3353301
Abstract (Summary)

Since the 1990s, power sector reforms have become paramount in energy policy, catalyzing a debate in Africa about market-based service provision and the effects of reforms on access. My research seeks to move beyond the conceptual divide by grounding attention not in abstract ‘market forces’ but rather in how development institutions shape energy services and actually practice policy on the ground. Using the case of Tanzania, a country known for having instituted some of the most extensive reforms and a ‘success story’ in Africa, I find that reforms are creating large burdens and barriers for access and use of services, including: increasing costs, enforcement pressures, and measures to impose ‘market’ discipline. However, I also find that many of the most significant outcomes are not found in direct ‘market’ changes, but rather how reforms are selective, partial, and shaped by the wider needs and claims of the institutions driving reforms, so that questions of how reforms are implemented, how they are measured, and who tells the story become as important as the policies themselves. Using a multiple-arenas framework, including (i) a household and community level study of urban energy conditions, (ii) a study of service and management conditions at the national electric utility, (iii) an examination of the international policy process, and (iv) a study of the history of electricity services across colonial, post-independence, and reform periods, I show that African energy reforms are a technical and political project connecting energy to international investments, donor aid programs, and elite interests within national governments. Energy reforms also involve fundamental service changes that are reorganizing how the costs and benefits of energy systems are distributed, allocated, and managed. The effects of reform extend beyond formal services to have wide-reaching repercussions within natural resources, and uneven social dynamics on the ground. These features point to the importance of critical ethnographic studies of energy, not simply as technical policy, but also as technical-political practice. It is in these grounded, institutional, and power-laden terms of how development is actually practiced that the wider outcomes of reform are revealed. Situating energy in development reveals the wider politics and relations of reforms.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kammen, Daniel M.
School: University of California, Santa Barbara
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African history, Geography, International law, Social structure, Urban planning
Keywords: Africa, East Africa, Energy reforms, Infrastructure, Market reforms, Resources access, Tanzania, Urban development
Publication Number: 3353301
ISBN: 978-1-109-09901-0
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