Multiple transitions to sustainable energy systems in Senegal - An analysis of driving forces, institutional settings, regional capabilities, local embedding, and path creation processes

DSpace Repository


Dokumentart: Dissertation
Date: 2022-11-23
Language: English
Faculty: 7 Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Department: Geographie, Geoökologie, Geowissenschaft
Advisor: Kinder, Sebastian (Prof. Dr.)
Day of Oral Examination: 2022-10-20
DDC Classifikation: 550 - Earth sciences
Keywords: Energie , Wirtschaftsgeografie , Subsaharisches Afrika , Erneuerbare Energien
Other Keywords:
renewable energy
economic geography
sub-Saharan Africa
License: Publishing license excluding print on demand
Show full item record


There is great potential for renewable energy (RE) in Senegal. Like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Senegal needs a reliable and affordable energy supply to fuel its growing energy needs (IRENA, 2020a) and has abundant natural resources for renewable energy (IRENA, 2020b). Developing RE could promote energy independence, reduce energy costs, enable a robust energy supply, create new jobs, provide access to unserved rural areas, and, above all, contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (Apfel and Herbes, 2021). But the country still relies heavily on imported fossil fuels, and the factors in a transition to renewable energy are little understood (Apfel et al., 2021). Complex political, economic, and social systems interact in Senegal to influence the transition processes, and the research reported in this thesis was undertaken to better understand both these systems and their interactions. Two overarching questions drive the research: First, what leads small- and medium-sized entrepreneurial enterprises (SMEs) – nearly all the businesses in Senegal – to participate, or not, in the transition of the energy sector towards renewable energy? Second, what social, economic and political dynamics are behind the creation of emerging energy paths in Senegal? Three intersecting approaches were taken to these questions. First, a systematic literature review of RE research in the Global South was done. Quantitative models, especially energy models, are found to dominate the discourse. Political and social processes are surprisingly under-researched. Established concepts and approaches appear inadequate to understand sustainable energy transitions in the Global South. To find more viable concepts, I derive five avenues for future research: sociotechnical energy imaginaries, power in energy systems, social innovations, business factors and spatial dimensions (Apfel et al., 2021). The second line of inquiry explores entrepreneurship in Senegal, specifically the factors influencing RE adoption by Senegalese entrepreneurs. Using an extended UTAUT 2 model to analyze interviews with 23 SMEs and 13 energy experts, I find effort expectancy is generally underestimated, usually due to inadequate knowledge about RE. Performance expectancy can be high and may have a positive impact on the adoption process, while social influence does not seem to play a role. Paramount among facilitating conditions is the support of the government, although the cost of RE technologies is also an influencing factor. The factors motivating RE adoption associated with prosumerism in the West cannot be assumed in Senegal. The third approach to understanding the energy transition in Senegal comes out of Evolutionary Economic Geography, where the framework of regional path creation processes of MacKinnon et al. (2019) is used to analyze interview data from 17 Senegalese energy experts. In this way, I identify three parallel emerging energy paths – path transplantation, indigenous path creation and path upgrading. Each is evolving in a different sector of the energy system and at its own pace and scale. Each differs greatly in its underlying legitimation and the support from institutions for its development. Dominant structures along each path are identified and future opportunities to address Senegal’s energy futures are highlighted (Apfel, 2022). In addition to contributing to researchers in the field, the results reported herein can inform and encourage professionals of development agencies, regional institutions, NGOs and private firms in shaping a sustainable energy system in Senegal.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)