Updated 10/11/21

October 2017 – September 2022 (granted 1 year extension because of Covid-19)

India, Lebanon, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania


Cities in the developing and emerging countries experience many problems of electricity supply, which conventional responses such as extending the grid cannot fix. Therefore, collective and individual alternatives such as decentralized and hybrid systems evolve.



Applying the concept of hybridization to socio-technical studies, the research proposes to study these emerging alternatives for electricity supply and to evaluate their impact on the future of the electricity system, assuming they represent an emerging but unstudied form of energy transition. The 4-year research will empirically study these emerging configurations by surveying the actors and the technologies of the market, the geographical, urban and social conditions that make them possible and the regulation practices, specifically with regard to the interplay of alternative and conventional socio-technical solutions. They will reflect on the way this enrich the usual understandings of the energy transition at a global level.

More specifically, the project addresses three objectives:

  • To empirically analyse how electrical transformations meet urban concentration and changing lifestyles
  • To examine the relation between these electrical transformations in urban environment of the South and the internationally promoted goals for a sustainable energy transition (ie decarbonisation and energy efficiency in context of low growth)
  • To learn from these results in developing cities to enrich the dominant conceptualization of energy transition, which appears insufficient or too simplistic to integrate the diversity of situations observed. We propose to develop an approach to change that is less hierarchical and linear, to mirror the multipolarity of places that impulse change and the plurality of change trajectories.

The team studies on seven fieldworks in Africa and Asia, including the Western Cape Province in South Africa. However, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, to date the project missions in South Africa have not taken place yet.


Scientific coordination: Eric Verdeil (FNSP)

South Africa



French National Research Agency (ANR)