The political economy of energy transitions in Mozambique and South Africa: The role of the Rising Powers

Journal Article

In a world in which rising powers are reconfiguring global development trajectories with significant implications for their sustainability, it becomes increasingly important to understand whether and how low carbon energy transitions might be enabled or frustrated by this new global geography of power. Towards this end, this paper makes the case for bringing together insights from three broad sets of literature on: (1) socio-technical transitions; (2) the rising powers as (re)emerging development donors and; (3) energy geographies. In building bridges between these three bodies of scholarship we seek to develop an alternative analytical framework that attends more effectively to the global and domestic political economy of transitions and whose value is illustrated empirically in relation to the growing involvement of Brazil, India and China in the energy systems of Mozambique and South Africa. We argue that this alternative framework provides a better understanding of how the rising powers are influencing the changing relationships between low carbon and fossil-fuel based energy pathways and of the multiple roles they are playing in the development and transformation of energy systems, through the development of ‘niches’ where innovation can emerge, or in reinforcing or challenging existing ‘regimes’ or dominant ways of providing energy services.

Read more about Lucy Baker and her work at CIED.