Exploring the governance of private finance for the electricity sector in sub-Saharan Africa

Gregory, Julian Andrew (2020) Exploring the governance of private finance for the electricity sector in sub-Saharan Africa. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

My dissertation is a paper style thesis, which contains the following chapters: an introduction; a research design; three chapters, each derived from a different successful peer reviewed policy paper (there were corrections applied to each of the original papers); and a discussion and conclusions section. My thesis aims to answer the following research question: ‘What aspects of governance deter private investors from financing large-scale electricity network infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa?’ My methodology utilises a Hypothetico-deductive approach: which focuses on the impact of risk surrounding the private financing process, when applied to electricity infrastructure development in the sub-Saharan region. My sources for evidence are mixed and multidisciplinary; and my analysis principally applies a governance lens.

This is an important topic, as it is over 20 years since the multilateral development community re-focused its policy surrounding the improvement of electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), to one that places private sector financing at the centre of its strategy (which transpired during the leadership of the World Bank by James Wolfensohn in the 1990s). Yet according to a recently published report by the IEA: ‘despite being home to 17% of the world’s population, Africa currently accounts for just 4% of global power supply investment’ – suggesting a significant policy failure for over twenty years.

With SSA’s population forecast to double by the UN by 2050, it is imperative that the development community understands why such a policy is gaining so little traction. Affordable and reliable energy access is crucial for the economic growth that such a rapid population increase will require. If it is not delivered, excessive environmental damage will otherwise occur, as the enlarging population will have to continue to rely on unsustainably biofuel sources for its energy needs (mostly wood – causing deforestation); and ever increasing social problems will ensue, due to accelerating competition for scarce resources by this ever-growing population.

My first paper has two functions: firstly, to reformulate the relevance of risk within the academic research community as an obstruction to the private financing of new SSA electricity infrastructure development. Secondly, to confirm and classify those risks that can be found in the greater interdisciplinary literature, which would negatively influence a private, financier’s willingness to invest in this type of infrastructure. To do this, I firstly analysed a manageable five-year sample of literature surrounding three African countries with a notable body of academic literature: Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania. To create my sample, I systematically interrogated the two principle academic libraries of Scopus and the Web of Science, using key terms. My secondary analysis then digs deeper, by including further interdisciplinary literature not specific to the first sample, drawing from the Project Management, Finance, and Innovation academic disciplines – to identify and classify all relevant and likely risks.

My second paper is theoretical and utilises three separate perspectives to deliver a holistic and inclusive governance picture, to answer the following research question: ‘What aspects of governance deter private investors from financing large-scale electricity network infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa?’ These perspectives comprise: 1) Financial Investment Governance, the private sector investor’s perspective, which focuses on the rules and institutions (or lack of) that directly influence the financial investment environment in SSA. 2) Political Governance, the political economy perspective, which relate to the negative, indirect investment consequences resulting from the way that SSA governments govern; and 3) Technical System Governance, a ‘systems’ perspective, which encompasses how the standard structure and organisation of the wider electricity delivery system in each country in SSA, negatively impacts such investment.

My third paper focuses on the impact of governance surrounding large-scale electricity infrastructure development (megaprojects), by empirically analysing six case studies located in South Africa. My guide for my fieldwork was the following research question: ‘What aspects of project governance are important, to prevent time delays and cost overruns, when building large scale electricity infrastructure in South Africa?’ This research question is relevant to my thesis’ primary interrogation theme, as the adherence to schedules and budgets are of central importance to successful private financing of such infrastructure.

My discussion and conclusions section commences with an explanation for why the multilateral development community should persevere with their policy of promoting private financing of electricity infrastructure development, in SSA. I do this by first explaining why access to affordable and reliable electricity services in Africa is crucial for promoting the meaningful economic growth in the region. I then discuss why the alternatives to this policy, are less inclusive and more exploitive. I then use this positioning to frame my key findings from my research, which I then clarify. Finally, I discuss policy implications surrounding my findings and possible policy solutions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Keywords: PhD by publication
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD9000 Special industries and trades > HD9502 Energy industries. Energy policy. Fuel trade
H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2020 19:04
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2020 19:04
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/93069

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