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Cross-Scale Linkages of Centralized Electricity Generation: Geothermal Development and Investor–Community Relations in Kenya

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Cross-Scale Linkages of Centralized Electricity Generation: Geothermal Development and Investor–Community Relations in Kenya

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Based on a study of Kenya’s geothermal-energy development in Baringo-Silali, we explore how and with whom government actors and local communities in rural and peripheral areas interact when planning and implementing large-scale power plants. Starting from a comparison of decentralized and centralized energy systems, we demonstrate that the development of this large-scale infrastructure project and the associated investor-community relations are governed by various cross-scale linkages. To this end, we adapt the concept of cross-scale linkages from the literature on natural-resource governance to explore actors, rules, and practices at local, regional, national, and international levels.
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Politics and Governance (ISSN: 2183–2463)
2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222
DOI: 10.17645/pag.v8i3.2981
Article
Cross-Scale Linkages of Centralized Electricity Generation: Geothermal
Development and Investor–Community Relations in Kenya
Britta Klagge 1,*, Clemens Greiner 2, David Greven 3and Chigozie Nweke-Eze 1
1Department of Geography, University of Bonn, 53115 Bonn, Germany; E-Mail: klagge@uni-bonn.de (B.K.),
cne@uni-bonn.de (C.N-E.)
2Global South Studies Center, University of Cologne, 50931 Cologne, Germany; E-Mail: clemens.greiner@uni-koeln.de
3Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne, 50923 Cologne, Germany;
E-Mail: david.greven@uni-koeln.de
* Corresponding author
Submitted: 3 March 2020 | Accepted: 13 April 2020 | Published: 11 September 2020
Abstract
Based on a study of Kenya’s geothermal-energy development in Baringo-Silali, we explore how and with whom government
actors and local communities in rural and peripheral areas interact when planning and implementing large-scale power
plants. Starting from a comparison of decentralized and centralized energy systems, we demonstrate that the develop-
ment of this large-scale infrastructure project and the associated investor-community relations are governed by various
cross-scale linkages. To this end, we adapt the concept of cross-scale linkages from the literature on natural-resource gov-
ernance to explore actors, rules, and practices at local, regional, national, and international levels.
Keywords
Baringo; centralized electricity generation; corporate social responsibility; cross-scale linkages; geothermal development;
governance; infrastructure; investor–community relations; Kenya
Issue
This article is part of the issue “Politics and (Self-)Organisation of Electricity System Transitions in a Global North–South
Perspective” edited by Eberhard Rothfuß (University of Bayreuth, Germany) and Festus Boamah (University of Bayreuth,
Germany).
© 2020 by the authors; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribu-
tion 4.0 International License (CC BY).
1. Introduction
Centralized electricity generation, with large-scale power
plants feeding into national grids, is mainly associated
with top-down planning, centralized control and nega-
tive, often unsustainable local impacts at the generation
facilities’ sites. In this contribution, we question this dom-
inant narrative. We argue that cross-scale linkages in the
implementation and governance of large-scale electric-
ity generation and associated investor-community rela-
tions need to be taken into account in order to under-
stand the local impacts of centralized energy systems.
Based on preliminary results from an ongoing qualita-
tive study of geothermal-energy development in Kenya’s
semi-arid north, we show that there are various cross-
scale linkages at work that govern the relations between
local, county, and national, as well as international ac-
tors, rules, and institutions. In our article, we will ex-
plore how different types of cross-scale linkages shape
the implementation and governance of geothermal de-
velopment and what potential for local development
they (might) entail. The expansion of geothermal-energy
provision in Kenya provides an interesting case to study
such linkages in centralized electricity generation be-
cause it has become the most important source of grid-
connected electricity in the country and has a great
deal of potential. It is, therefore, one of the main pil-
lars of Kenya’s ambitious development strategy, Vision
2030, with far-reaching implications for economic and so-
cial development in the country’s (semi-)arid and periph-
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 211
eral North where future geothermal development will
take place.
Our approach is inspired by recent research on large
infrastructure projects which demonstrates that such
projects are the result of combining technology with
diverse actors, rules, and practices (Harvey, Jensen, &
Morita, 2017; Sovacool & Cooper, 2013). Such complex,
multilayered, and heterogeneous structures do not fol-
low clear plans and cannot be implemented and gov-
erned in a straight-forward and top-down manner. Rather,
we follow Li (2005), who, in response to Scott’s (1998)
seminal work on high-modernist, state-planned schemes,
has argued that “(r)ather than emerging fully formed
from a single source, many improvement schemes are
formed through an assemblage of objectives, knowl-
edges, techniques, and practices of diverse provenance”
(Li, 2005, p. 386). Infrastructure projects, such as geother-
mal power projects, thus can rather be understood as
open-textured, large-scale social experiments (Wynne,
1988). This is not to say that power relations do not mat-
ter. Yet, to understand how power is exercised within
such large-scale projects, we need to take into account
the uncertainties and contingencies which can result
from the multi-layered nature of their governance.
In the following, we first explore the specifici-
ties and governance implications of decentralized ver-
sus centralized electricity generation. After situating
geothermal development in Kenya’s electricity sector
and introducing our study region and methodology, we
present our empirical results. This will be followed by
our conclusions.
2. Governance and Cross-Scale Linkages in Electricity
Provision
Governance structures in the electricity sector can take
various forms but are usually subject to national legis-
lation and policies. This is due not only to the fact that
electricity is regarded as critical infrastructure and a pre-
requisite for most other activities but also to the elec-
tricity sector’s network character and its socio-technical
nature. These latter characteristics require coordination
between different levels and places as well as between
technological and social elements to function smoothly
(Hughes, 1983). Nonetheless, there is a great diversity of
generation technologies, grid architectures, and result-
ing geographies. An important distinction is made be-
tween centralized and decentralized electricity systems
and generation facilities. Apart from technical and geo-
graphical differences, they also differ in their ownership
and financing, thus resulting in specific governance struc-
tures and cross-scale linkages (Table 1).
Table 1. Comparison of decentralized and centralized electricity systems from a technology, geography and governance
perspective for rural global south contexts.
Decentralized Centralized
Stand-alone Mini-grid (National) utility
Grid connection Off-grid Isolated (local) network National grid
Generation facilities’ Small-scale local Medium-scale local Large-scale centralized
size and geography Production-site =Production-sites close to Production-sites far away
consumption-site consumption-sites from consumption-sites
Power-availability Low electricity volumes Frequent outages
challenges
Local technology Repair and maintenance Maintenance, protection against
challenges power theft and sabotage
Ownership Private household or firm, National or other National providers (plus
often local government and/or independent power
private firm producers [IPPs])
Financing Owners, often with Owners, often with The national state, local-
international donor/ international donor/ DFI connection charge often paid
Development Finance and/or national-state for by the consumer,
Institution (DFI) and/or support sometimes international
national-state support DFI support
Local governance dimension Strong, with cross-scale linkages to national and Small, apart from (possibly)
international actors at power-generation sites
Source: Authors’ own compilation based on various sources.
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 212
In much of the Global South, public electrical infras-
tructure has until recently mainly been provided in the
form of large-scale generation facilities, mostly hydro-
and coal-powered, feeding into national grids. Rural and
peripheral regions, however, are often not connected to
such centralized infrastructure, and electricity can only
be provided in a decentralized way. This includes small-
scale off-grid electricity infrastructure such as diesel gen-
erators and, more recently, solar home systems as well
as mini-grids, which have emerged as another alterna-
tive in recent years (Alstone, Gershenson, & Kammen,
2015), often donor-driven and provided by non-state ac-
tors. Because of the close connection between power-
generating facilities and consumers, as well as its flex-
ibility and scalability, decentralized electricity provision
is often regarded as advantageous from both a local-
development perspective as well as in terms of sustain-
ability (Boliko & Ialnazov, 2019; Bouffard & Kirschen,
2008; Kirubi, Jacobson, Kammen, & Mills, 2009). In con-
trast, centralized electricity generation is mainly associ-
ated with inflexibility, centralized control, and negative lo-
cal impacts at the power-plant locations (Alanne & Saari,
2006; Boamah, 2020). These often include environmen-
tal damage, large-scale population resettlement and the
general deterioration of local livelihoods. As connecting
people to national grids in peripheral areas is expensive,
large-scale power plants might not even provide electric-
ity access to neighbouring, hitherto unserved local com-
munities (Alstone et al., 2015). In sum, decentralized elec-
tricity systems are regarded as supporting local develop-
ment, whereas centralized electricity-generation facilities
are not, or are thought to do so to a much lesser degree.
While the governance of decentralized electricity
systems has a strong local dimension, the governance
of centralized electricity generation is overwhelmingly
shaped by cross-scale interactions. Power plants are usu-
ally implemented and operated from a distance either
directly by national power companies or by government-
commissioned IPPs since the electricity has to be
transported via national grids to where it is required.
Decisions on the location of large-scale plants follow fac-
tors such as, in the case of renewable electricity genera-
tion, the availability of natural resources (water, wind, so-
lar radiation, geothermal reservoirs). Such power plants
are therefore often located far from economic and pop-
ulation centers and entail cross-scale linkages in the
realms of planning, development, financing, ownership,
and management. These linkages encompass national-
and often also international-level investors and local-
level communities, they are complex, and bring with
them challenges which need careful consideration.
2.1. Cross-Scale Linkages and Multilevel Governance
With reference to Berkes (2002, p. 293), we define
cross-scale linkages as interactions of different actors,
institutions, and rules “both horizontally (across space)
and vertically (across levels of organization).” Scale chal-
lenges and cross-scale linkages play an important role
in the literature on human-environment relations and
common-pool resources (Cash et al., 2006; Ostrom,
2005). These ideas help conceptualize cross-scale link-
ages in the investor-community relations of electricity-
generation facilities. Generally, addressing scale issues
is seen as important for sustainable resource manage-
ment (Cash et al., 2006), where top-down approaches
have proved to be “too blunt and insensitive to local
const[r]aints and opportunities…[whereas] bottom-up
approaches…are too insensitive to the contribution of lo-
cal actions to larger problems.” Instead, Cash et al. (2006)
propose “a middle path that addresses the complexities
of multiple scales” and distinguishes between three “re-
sponses to problems of scale and cross-scale interactions:
institutional interplay, co-management, and bridging or-
ganizations,” all of which play a role in our case study.
Institutional interplay means the vertical interplay of
governments and administrations at different levels. In
Kenya, this includes, for example, royalty-sharing from
natural-resource exploitation and the distribution of gov-
ernment functions as a result of devolution. The cre-
ation and empowerment of legislative and executive ac-
tors at the county level have increased the options for
institutional interplay and, more generally, added com-
plexity to a political system which has been character-
ized by corruption, patronage, and inter-ethnic compe-
tition (Mwangi, 2008). Institutional interplay can range
from highly asymmetric to relatively balanced relations.
The latter comes close to what Cash et al. (2006) call co-
management, i.e., “a continuum of arrangements that
rely on various degrees of power- and responsibility-
sharing between governments and local communities.
We adapt this notion of co-management to denote coop-
eration between local communities and other actors, as
for example in the management of water points associ-
ated with geothermal development.
The establishment of bridging organizations as the
third response to scale challenges goes beyond in-
tergovernmental or government-community activities.
Bridging organizations are deliberately designed to act
across (administrative) scales, thereby sidelining admin-
istrative hierarchies to some extent. They are similar to
what Hooghe and Marks (2003) call Type II multilevel gov-
ernance. Whereas Type I multilevel governance refers to
general-purpose jurisdiction at a limited number of lev-
els as part of a systemwide architecture—thus reflect-
ing traditional government levels and interactions—Type
II multilevel governance is characterized by task-specific
jurisdiction with intersecting memberships. Its main ad-
vantage is that it can respond flexibly to newly emerging
or changing stakeholder preferences. In our case study,
the Geothermal Development Corporation (GDC) acts as
such a bridging organization.
The three forms of multilevel governance organiza-
tion revolve mainly around the interaction of admin-
istrative government levels within a country. However,
the role of international actors and communities, as
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 213
both active participants in and detractors of such gover-
nance, needs closer consideration. The concept of con-
text shaping put forward by Hay (1997) helps better un-
derstand their roles in the multilevel governance of large-
scale power generation projects. We will demonstrate
later that local communities have—to some extent—
the power to re-define what is possible for the investor
and “alter the parameters of subsequent action” (Hay,
1997, p. 51).
3. Study Context and Methodology
Kenya, with its ambition to achieve universal electric-
ity access by 2022, now pursues a national-government
strategy to combine centralized and decentralized elec-
tricity provision. While, on the one hand, grid access is
to be expanded along and through extending and den-
sifying existing grids, the remaining areas, on the other
hand, are supported through the development of off-
grid and mini-grid systems (Ministry of Energy [MoE],
2018). The comprehensive electrification effort is part of
the Vision 2030, which aspires to make Kenya a middle-
income industrializing country by 2030 (Government of
Kenya [GoK], 2007). It also aims to improve livelihoods in
hitherto unserved rural and peripheral areas.
3.1. Overview of Kenya’s Power Sector and the Role of
Geothermal Electricity
The recent development in the Kenyan power sec-
tor is characterized by an impressive growth of grid-
connected electricity generation and a transition from
hydropower and fossil-fuel to geothermal electricity
(Table 2). Geothermal resources have been used for
electricity generation in Kenya since 1981 when the
first geothermal power station started operation south
of Lake Naivasha. Today, there are four geothermal
power stations in operation (Olkaria I–IV), all located
in Hells Gate National Park, which was created in 1984
(Hughes & Rogei, 2020). Two more are under construc-
tion (Olkaria V) or planned (Olkaria VI). The development
of Olkaria steamfields has become infamous for the in-
voluntary resettlement and eviction of local Maasai and
other communities. Attempts at mediation have been un-
satisfying so far and local activists are in contact with the
World Bank, the major international funder, regarding
their grievances (Hughes & Rogei, 2020; Koissaba, 2018;
Schade, 2017; but also see Mariita, 2002).
The further tapping of its rich geothermal resources
is Kenya’s most important strategy for increasing cen-
tralized electricity generation. In 2008, the Kenyan gov-
ernment incorporated the GDC, a parastatal under the
auspices of the MoE, to fast-track the exploitation of
geothermal energy with the ambitious aim of achieving
a geothermal capacity of 5,000 MW by the year 2030
(Eberhard, Gratwick, Morella, & Antmann, 2016). The
GDC was established due to the high upfront costs and
risks involved in geothermal development, which makes
it unattractive to private investors (Klagge & Nweke-Eze,
2020). These include the costs for establishing the nec-
essary ancillary infrastructure, such as roads and water
provision, and the risk of not reaching the anticipated
steam capacity. The GDC covers these risks and costs,
supported by loans and grants from foreign donors and
development partners, with the aim of selling the steam
generated either to the national power-generation com-
pany KenGen or to private IPPs.
The GDC has taken responsibility for the devel-
opment of geothermal energy production from Lake
Naivasha northward along the Rift Valley, starting in 2011
with Menengai, a caldera bordering the northern side
of the city of Nakuru (Figure 1). It has an estimated to-
tal potential of 1,600 MW, of which 170 MW are real-
ized (GDC, n.d.a). Currently, the so-called Baringo-Silali
Block with an estimated total potential of 3,000 MW
is being developed. The first three phases will develop
100 MW each with funding from the GoK and the
German Development Bank (KfW; GDC, n.d.b). Detailed
surface studies were concluded in 2013 at three ex-
ploration sites―Korosi, Paka, and Silali. In December
2018, drilling started after a first rig was transported
from Menengai to Baringo-Silali, and in September 2019
steam was hit in Paka (GDC, 2019).
3.2. Study Region and Methodology
Baringo is part of Kenya’s Central Rift Valley. It is a semi-
arid acacia-bush savanna with high inter-annual varia-
Table 2. Grid-connected electricity generation by sources in Kenya in 1995, 2005, and 2015.
1995 2005 2015
Energy sources GWh GWh GWh
Oil 416 10.2% 1645 28.3% 1206 12.4%
Biofuels 122 3.0% 131 2.3% 122 1.3%
Hydro 3163 77.3% 3026 52.0% 3787 39.1%
Geothermal 390 9.5% 1003 17.2% 4479 46.2%
Solar PV 13 0.2% 37 0.4%
Wind 57 0.6%
Total 4091 100% 5818 100% 9688 100%
Source: International Energy Agency (2020).
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 214
Figure 1. Map of geothermal areas and power generation in Kenya. Source: Authors’ illustration based on interview infor-
mation and Mangi (2017, p. 4).
tions in rainfall and recurrent droughts. Lake Baringo,
one of two freshwater lakes in the Rift Valley, is the
only perennial water source. The largest part of the
Baringo-Silali complex falls into Baringo County, which
is inhabited almost exclusively by Nilotic-speaking Pokot.
The Pokot in Baringo have practiced semi-nomadic pas-
toralism for much of the past 200 years and constituted
a close-knit, egalitarian, and rather inward-looking com-
munity (Anderson & Bollig, 2016; Bollig, 2016). Since
about the 2000s, however, an increasing number of
households have started to diversify their livelihoods,
settling down more permanently and starting rain-fed
cultivation. This has caused conflict regarding ownership
and usage of the land, which had been almost exclu-
sively used as communal rangelands before, as well as
increasing fragmentation of the Pokot into territorially-
based communities (Greiner, 2017). The area is remote
and has been marginalized in the past with high illiteracy
rates (Baringo County Government, 2014), a poor road
network, and strong population growth rates. Frequent
outbreaks of violence and cattle raids between the
Pokot and their neighbours have worsened the situation
(Greiner, 2013).
Our findings on geothermal development in Baringo
are based on ongoing ethnographic fieldwork in the
area (Bollig, Greiner, & Österle, 2014; Greiner, 2020),
which includes a multitude of informal interviews with
community members and representatives conducted
between 2009 and 2020. These are complemented
by expert interviews, the analysis of relevant invest-
ment and policy documents, and site visits to the
Baringo-Silali, Menengai, and Olkaria geothermal fields
(2017–2020). We conducted interviews with key ex-
perts involved in the development of geothermal en-
ergy in Kenya, working at different government levels
(MoE, National Treasury, County Commission, County
Government), in energy-related and other state agen-
cies (Energy Regulatory Commission [ERC], GDC, KenGen,
National Land Commission [NLC]), and in DFIs (African
Development Bank, KfW). As many of the interviews
were granted on the condition of anonymity, we do not
provide further details of the interviewees.
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 215
4. Results
In the following paragraphs, we will focus on the actors,
rules, and practices in the context of the implementation
of infrastructure for geothermal development. Starting
with the parastatal GDC and other important actors, we
then highlight the most important formal rules and reg-
ulations that govern the local and community aspects
of infrastructure implementation. Following this, we il-
lustrate some of the practices and institutions that have
emerged in the negotiations of the investor (GDC), local
communities, and other stakeholders with a focus on cor-
porate social responsibility (CSR) measures, community
responses, and local practices.
4.1. The GDC as a Bridging Organization, Its Partners,
and Stakeholders
The most important actor in geothermal development
in Baringo-Silali is the GDC, headquartered in Nairobi.
Incorporated by the GoK in 2008, the GDC performs the
function of a bridging organization. Its tasks include ex-
ploration and drilling in promising geothermal sites, de-
velopment and management of steamfields, associated
legal processes, and community engagement. The GDC
has become a specialist in these activities—even acting
as an advisor in neighbouring countries—and involves
various partners and stakeholders (Table 3). Partners and
stakeholders include public-government actors at the
national level, such as ministries and agencies. Private
national- or even international-level actors include con-
sultants, contractors and, at a later stage, power-plant
developers and operators.
Most important for cross-scale linkages are inter-
national as well as local- and county-level actors and
stakeholders. International actors include financing in-
stitutions, in Baringo the KfW and the GRMF of the
African Union Commission (Klagge & Nweke-Eze, 2020).
While the financing contract is negotiated and admin-
istered by the MoE and the Treasury on behalf of the
GDC, KfW is also involved in the project itself and has
its own guidelines on environmental, social, and climate
standards (KfW Development Bank, 2019), which follow
World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC;
IFC as part of the World Bank Group) standards and
which the GDC must meet to continue to receive funding.
Interestingly, there are, to our knowledge as of March
2020, no international, national, or local NGOs or CSOs
(Civil Society Organizations) active in Baringo. This stands
in contrast to other large renewable-energy projects
in the wider region, such as the Bujagali Hydropower
project in Uganda (Linaweaver, 2003), Lake Turkana Wind
Park in northern Kenya (Enns, 2016), and the geothermal
development in Naivasha in southern Kenya (Hughes &
Rogei, 2020). The reason for this is related to the low level
of international investment until now (Klagge & Nweke-
Eze, 2020), the history of the Pokot people, and the
marginalization of the region (see Section 3.2). The rep-
resentation and inclusion of local and community inter-
ests in the Baringo geothermal development, therefore,
hinges on formal and informal engagement activities by
the GDC and government actors as well as on community
responses and local practices beyond these activities.
At the regional and local level, the county govern-
ment and the communities have to grant land-access
rights and participate in the ESIA. The local population
is involved in community engagement as part of ESIA
and the development and implementation of related CSR
measures. They also provide labour, mostly unskilled and
casual, to GDC and its contractors. This happened pri-
marily in the early implementation stage through locally-
based SACCOs as important intermediaries between the
Table 3. GDC tasks, important partners, and stakeholders.
Tasks Important partners and stakeholders
Sensitization of local communities and Local populations, community representatives (especially elders), Savings and
management of community relations Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs)
Obtain land-access rights County governments, local communities, and (other) landowners, NLC
Environmental and Social Impact National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), local communities,
Assessment (ESIA) county governments, DFIs, consultancies
Other regulatory issues Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA, successor of ERC), MoE,
other ministries plus various others
Financing MoE, Ministry of Finance/National Treasury, external funders (in Baringo-Silali:
KfW, Geothermal Risk Mitigation Facility [GRMF])
Exploration and drilling Consultants (geology, engineering), contractors (construction, catering,
guarding), SACCOs, and local labour
Management of steamfields Power-plant developers and operators (KenGen, IPPs)
Source: Authors’ own compilation.
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 216
GDC and contractors on the one hand and the local pop-
ulation on the other hand. Furthermore, once electric-
ity is generated, the county and the communities will re-
ceive a share of the royalties according to the new Energy
Act (from 2019), which stipulates that 75% remain with
the national government, while 20% and 5% go to the
county and the community respectively, the latter to “be
payable through a trust fund managed by a board of
trustees established by the local community” (Republic
of Kenya, 2019, p. 69). So far, the communities are rep-
resented by their informally constituted elders, who fre-
quently meet in the council of elders. These community
representatives act as a major contact point for the GDC
and the county government and, in turn, communicate
community grievances to the GDC.
The importance of interaction with local- and county-
level actors is highlighted by the fact that the GDC has
community-relations officers and a regional administra-
tor for Baringo-Silali. Furthermore, the GDC’s depart-
ments for Environment Management and Community
Engagement are located in Nakuru, close to both
Menengai and Baringo-Silali (Figure 1). The rationale be-
hind this is that the GDC staff members in these depart-
ments are able to reach the project sites more easily. In
contrast, corporate planning, financing, and dealing with
national and international partners are done from the
headquarters in Nairobi. The relationships between the
GDC and its partners and stakeholders are mainly gov-
erned by national legislation or regulations.
4.2. Formal Rules and Regulations Governing GDC’s
Activities in Baringo
The geothermal development process in Baringo is sub-
ject to a variety of laws and other types of regulation,
which govern important aspects of investor-community
relations such as land access, environmental issues, and
community engagement. Negotiation over these issues
takes place between different actors, representing an
interplay among different levels of formal administra-
tions and agencies as well as between formal and tradi-
tional authorities.
4.2.1. Access to Land
Land acquisitions for geothermal operations are com-
plex. To access the resource, pastureland had to be
provided for establishing local infrastructure including
well pads, water systems, storage facilities and workers’
camps. Ownership- and use-rights had to be negotiated
with the traditional authorities and in some cases private
owners. The construction of the local road network was
started 2014 by a local contractor, followed by the lev-
elling of terrain for the well pads, i.e., the actual drilling
sites. During all these construction processes, the GDC
and contractors were involved in negotiations with com-
munity representatives. If, for example, livestock trails
were affected by road construction, or the levelling of
a well pad required cutting down ritual trees, a nego-
tiation between the parties was facilitated by the GDC
community-relations officers to explore changes in route
or possible compensation.
Land acquisition happened in a phase of profound
legal transformation. The Community Land Act only be-
came effective in 2016. With this act, former community
trust land was replaced by community land, which is ad-
judicated to the respective community. The Community
Land Act protects the community land rights, defines
the role of counties in land matters, and provides rules
for compensation in cases of compulsory acquisition by
the state. The process of land adjudication, however,
whereby local communities have to be registered as
rightful owners of the land, had not yet occurred in Paka,
Silali, or Korosi when the GDC started their operations. In
this opaque situation, the GDC proceeded to negotiate
only where necessary on an informal basis with commu-
nity representatives and postponed such negotiations
where possible.
4.2.2. ESIA and Community Engagement
An ESIA, officially referred to as an Environmental Impact
Assessment (EIA), is:
[A] critical examination of the effects of a project
on the environment. An EIA identifies both negative
and positive impacts of any development activity or
project, how it affects people, their property and the
environment. EIA also identifies measures to mitigate
the negative impacts, while maximizing on the posi-
tive ones. (NEMA, 2020)
The Environmental Management and Co-Ordination
Act (from 1999, amended in 2015) regulates that
geothermal-energy projects have to undergo EIAs and
that there are additional Environmental (Impact Assess-
ment and Audit) Regulations on its scope and proce-
dure, with NEMA as the supervising government agency.
Viewed in the light of multilevel governance, ESIA repre-
sents an institution imposed on project developers in a
top-down manner, thereby constituting cross-scale link-
ages and requiring institutional interplay of actors at dif-
ferent levels (Table 3). In Baringo-Silali, this includes KfW
as a major international funder with its own guidelines,
and we were told that the ESIA for Baringo-Silali had to
be updated in 2016–2017 due to request by KfW. As the
ESIA for Baringo-Silali has not been made available so
far, the following information on community-related ac-
tivities is drawn from other sources, mainly our inter-
view material.
The first ESIA report was submitted to NEMA in 2012
and approved in 2013, which marked the official start of
the project. It was followed by the acquisition of land,
the construction of roads and other facilities as well as
the establishment of a community-engagement frame-
work, which includes, according to GDC representatives,
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 217
12 community public meetings per year as open forums
where usually around 50–150 people participate. The
GDC representatives both in Nakuru and Nairobi regard
community engagement as an important and critical part
of GDC activities. They say it is important to involve local
people from the early stage and step-by-step so that ev-
erybody is carried along. This is reiterated by an MoE in-
terview partner who stresses that it is the GDC’s responsi-
bility to make sure that they have the buy-in of the com-
munities, which he sees as a critical success factor: To
achieve “community buy-in,” the GDC has to integrate
with the communities in the project operations, ranging
from providing local jobs to investing in social infrastruc-
ture. Here lies the rationale for various CSR measures im-
plemented by the GDC. It remains unclear, however, to
what extent CSR measures are (also) required by NEMA
as part of the ESIA process or by KfW as a major interna-
tional funder.
4.3. Water Points and Other CSR Measures
From 2016 onward, the GDC started with the construc-
tion of the water infrastructure to supply water for
drilling, including water basins for contaminated water.
The water is pumped at high pressure from Lake Baringo
into four basins on the volcano tops. From there it is re-
leased by gravity to the drilling sites. Additionally, the
GDC (2019) has started building a “robust community wa-
ter supply program with 20 watering points for domestic
and livestock use,” which includes treatment plants to fil-
ter water for human consumption.
The 20 community water points (CWPs) are planned
as freely accessible infrastructure, which—according to
the NLC county coordinator for Baringo—are one form
of CSR by the GDC. This view, however, is not shared
by representatives of the local communities, who under-
stand the CWPs as part and parcel of the initial agree-
ment with the GDC. According to GDC representatives, it
was community representatives who initially demanded
access to water. This request was then taken up by GDC
headquarters, where water provision was identified not
only as major leverage to buy-in the community but also
as a key development factor. This apparently convinced
KfW to approve the water-supply program to safeguard
the project in the future.
The actual sites of the CWPs were determined by
the communities. To manage the CWPs, the GDC has
encouraged them to form a committee for each water
point. These committees are meant to regulate water
access and to prevent sabotage through unplanned us-
age, which came to be a major problem in some areas.
Since repair of leakage and damage caused by illegal tap-
ping is carried out by the GDC or a contractor, these
water point committees can be classified as institutions
of co-management.
CSR-related institutions and regulations were also in-
troduced to facilitate the recruitment and payment of
the temporary workforce of the communities by the GDC
and contractors. To this end, the communities were en-
couraged to form SACCOs to ensure fair distribution of
jobs and decide on the usage of an overhead paid to the
communities. Another labour-related CSR measure, not
as yet realized, is an agreement between the GDC and
Baringo County government for the vocational training
of 400 youth for equipment maintenance, thereby facil-
itating a form of human capital investment. Further CSR
measures mentioned in the interviews were the dona-
tion of two “medical outreach vehicles,” classroom ren-
ovations, a sponsorship program for students, the estab-
lishment of Early Childhood Development Centers, food
donations to local schools, and water-trucking during ex-
tremely dry seasons.
Overall, there is no public or clear information on
CSR measures in Baringo-Silali or on their implementa-
tion status. Meanwhile, the local communities have de-
veloped their own ways to deal with the challenges and
opportunities provided by the GDC.
4.4. Community Responses and Local Practices
As with much of Northern Kenya, Baringo is a difficult
area for investors, not only due to the lack of basic in-
frastructure but also for security reasons (Lind, 2017).
For decades, the area has been conflict-ridden, with au-
tomatic weapons being widely available (Mkutu, 2007).
Disguised as traditional cattle raids, assaults on neigh-
bouring communities are increasingly used to achieve po-
litical goals, and more recently the police and army have
also become involved and suffered losses (Greiner, 2013).
Since the Kenyan state never managed to establish its
monopoly on violence in the area, the GDC—like other
investors—is vulnerable and has to negotiate their pres-
ence with care (Greiner, 2020).
To express their grievances to the GDC, local commu-
nities have resorted to roadblocks. Often symbolic in na-
ture, these consist of a few stones or branches, but in the
context of the general insecurity, they have proved an
effective means to enter into negotiation over the non-
payment of salaries by contractors or the lack of water
in CWPs. As roadblocks can become a serious problem
for work schedules and sometimes also for the workers’
safety, the GDC is usually keen on dealing with these is-
sues quickly, though solutions are often short-term or
postponed nonetheless (especially regarding payments
from contractors). There are also cases in which GDC ve-
hicles simply take alternative routes to the project sites
to avoid such roadblocks. Roadblocks can be initiated by
individuals (mostly regarding non-payment), but also to-
gether with elders (especially regarding lack of water at
schools) or youths (regarding lack of employment). There
are also other cases of ‘ad-hoc negotiation’ during con-
struction, e.g., welders were forced to weld holes in pipes
so that a leak could occur through which locals could
get water (information provided in this and the follow-
ing paragraph was gathered and cross-checked in several
community and expert interviews, 2018–2020).
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 218
While the GDC and the water point committees try
to sensitize communities about the intended use of wa-
ter, unauthorized usage and consumption of unfiltered
water are a major problem. Leakages and breakages of
pipelines are common and people tend to use the closest
water source available, sometimes waiting hours to have
water pumped at frequent leakage points. Vandalism,
e.g., tampering with pressure-relief valves or cutting the
five-inch community pipelines, frequently happens along
remote pipelines. Since maintenance by contractors or
GDC staff can be slow, people also try to fix community
pipelines with ropes or stones, although such makeshift
fixes usually cannot handle the pressure for long and have
even been destroyed by baboons looking for water (inter-
views and observation in February 2020). Apart from hu-
man and animal consumption, leakage and overflows of
livestock water points are also used for farming activities.
Despite the implementation of CWPs, the local popu-
lation still perceives water as a significant issue and com-
plains, for example, that livestock water points are in-
sufficient for the number of livestock in the area. Apart
from more water points, the communities also demand
greater employment opportunities and other benefits.
Whether the recent striking of steam in Paka will lead
to more CSR measures is an open question right now.
Notwithstanding, and partly due to the threat of armed
violence and resistance, community responses figure
highly in the GDC’s strategy. This provides a good ex-
ample of how local communities can—to some extent—
“alter the parameters of subsequent action” (Hay, 1997,
p. 51) and influence the investor and its strategies. As has
been shown, KfW as the international funder is also a
player in this context, and is trying to protect its rep-
utation by ensuring adequate consideration of and ad-
herence to environmental and social standards. This
demonstrates the importance of cross-scale linkages in
geothermal development and the associated investor-
community relations.
5. Summary and Conclusion
Geothermal development for centralized electricity gen-
eration is still in the exploration and drilling stage in
Baringo-Silali. Even in this early stage, its implementa-
tion and governance are much more complex than top-
down, with various cross-scale linkages ranging from the
local community shaping context conditions for GDC ac-
tivities on the ground to the international funder KfW
with its impact on ESIA and CSR measures. The result-
ing types of multilevel governance in geothermal de-
velopment in Kenya include institutional interplay, co-
management, and the GDC as bridging organization. Our
case study also shows that centralized electricity genera-
tion can, as with de-centralized electricity systems, have
strong local impacts, with local communities playing an
active part.
The legal situation in Kenya with its progressive
new constitution and environmental legislation, the new
Community Land Act and royalty-sharing rules, as well as
recent devolution, play an important role in enabling and
enforcing cross-scale linkages and multilevel governance.
As of now, the county level seems to be less important
in geothermal development in Baringo-Silali. This, how-
ever, might change with the ongoing implementation of
devolution and the progress of geothermal development.
While there is evidence that devolution did not disman-
tle, but rather restructured patronage and rent-seeking
in Kenya (D’Arcy & Cornell, 2016), it would be premature
to draw conclusions about the county’s role regarding
geothermal energy infrastructure. This also due to the
fact that the regulating Energy Act has only recently been
issued (in 2019) and the project is still in its infancy. Most
significant, however, is the fact that no royalties have
yet been distributed, which could lead to irregularities
and conflicting claims. As soon as centralized electricity
generation is established in Baringo-Silali, the county re-
ceives 20% of the royalties, which could, for example, be
used to provide connections to the national grid. Starting
electricity generation will also involve new actors such
as IPPs and climate finance organizations, thereby mak-
ing governance structures more complex and interna-
tional and strengthening cross-scale linkages through fur-
ther requirements regarding sustainability and commu-
nity benefits.
Regarding sustainability and local impacts, how—and
whether—geothermal development in Baringo-Silali will
benefit the local population will depend to a certain
extent on the GDC and its management of investor-
community relations. So far, it is hard to say whether
community engagement and impact assessments are
“more about improving legitimacy rather than bene-
fitting local communities” (Sovacool & Cooper, 2013,
p. 241). The community in Baringo, however, is not a
passive recipient of benefits; rather it actively engages
in negotiations as well as in acts of resistance and sabo-
tage if important demands are not met or GDC activities
are regarded as unfair. Community action and responses,
therefore, have the potential to disrupt project advance-
ment, not only in technical terms, e.g., through road-
blocks, but also through legal and political action along
cross-scale linkages, as has already happened in Olkaria.
Up to now, we could not observe interventions by NGOs
and CSOs in these matters. Therefore, the extent to
which greater private, international, and civil-society par-
ticipation would benefit the community remains an open
question. This is one among many questions that cer-
tainly require further research into the future develop-
ment of geothermal development in Baringo.
In conclusion, this case study has demonstrated that
cross-scale linkages need to be considered to understand
how power relations impact the implementation and
governance of large-scale electricity generation and in
associated investor-community relations. To analyze ac-
tor and governance constellations, we applied a concept
of cross-scale linkages from research on socio-ecological
systems. While the original concept mainly refers to the
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 219
interactions between state actors and communities, we
have adapted and used it for a wider group of actors,
also including parastatals, companies, and international
agencies. This has revealed the limits of this approach
with its focus on institutional interplay, co-management,
and bridging organizations, which can only partly re-
flect the complexities of large-scale energy projects with
a multitude of state, community, private, and interna-
tional actors, as well as their various competing interests
and accountabilities.
Acknowledgments
We thank our interviewees for sharing their knowledge
and experiences with us. We are also grateful to the ed-
itors of this thematic issue and to two anonymous re-
viewers who pointed to critical issues and helped to ex-
pand the scope of the article. This research was sup-
ported by the German Research Foundation through
funding for the project “Energy futures” as part of
the Collaborative Research Center “Future Rural Africa”
(Project-ID 328966760—TRR 228).
Conflict of Interests
The authors declare no conflict of interests.
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About the Authors
Britta Klagge is Professor of Geography and Head of the Department of Geosciences at the University
of Bonn, Germany. Her current research focuses on economic geography with a special interest in
energy research, finance, globalization, and governance. Together with Clemens Greiner, she leads
the “Energy Futures” project on geothermal development in Baringo, which is part of the Collaborative
Research Center “Future Rural Africa” (www.crc228.de).
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 221
Clemens Greiner is a Social and Cultural Anthropologist and the Academic Coordinator of the Global
South Studies Center at the University of Cologne. His research focuses on political ecology, translocal-
ity, infrastructure, and the transformation of pastoralism in Eastern and Southern Africa. Together with
Britta Klagge, he leads the “Energy Futures” project on geothermal development in Baringo, which is
part of the Collaborative Research Center “Future Rural Africa” (www.crc228.de).
David Greven is currently doing a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Cologne. His research focus
is on the impacts of large-scale development projects on pastoral livelihoods in Kenya. He is also part of
the “Energy Futures” project on geothermal development in Baringo, which is part of the Collaborative
Research Center “Future Rural Africa” (www.crc228.de).
Chigozie Nweke-Eze is a PhD Student at the Institute of Geography, University of Bonn. For his doc-
toral thesis, he is researching the financing, governance, and infrastructure of large-scale renewable
energy projects in the Kenyan peripheries. He is a Research Associate in the “Energy Futures” project,
which is part of the Collaborative Research Center “Future Rural Africa” (www.crc228.de).
Politics and Governance, 2020, Volume 8, Issue 3, Pages 211–222 222
... When or even if these mega projects, which are often cornerstones of national development plans, will eventually be realized, however, remains in question (De Boeck 2011;Müller-Mahn 2019). Recent developments in the gas and oil industry in Africa, but also the massive investments into solar , geothermal , wind and hydro-based energies appear to be more tangible, as they also bring massive infrastructural investments into previously marginalized areas, such as roads, water pipelines, boreholes, or telecommunication boosters (Klagge et al. 2020). ...
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Zusammenfassung Der zunehmende Einsatz erneuerbarer Energien geht mit einer grundlegenden Transformation bestehender Energiesysteme einher. Die damit verbundenen Umstrukturierungen an den Kraftwerkstandorten sind häufig konflikthaft, bergen aber auch Chancen für die Regionalentwicklung vor Ort. Dies gilt nicht nur für Deutschland, sondern auch in Kenia und allgemeiner Subsahara-Afrika. Besonders spannend sind in dieser Region aktuell Geothermie-Großprojekte, da sie neben der Stromerzeugung für das nationale Netz auch Möglichkeiten der direkten Nutzung ( direct use ) von Dampf bzw. heißem Wasser vor Ort bieten. Ein wichtiges Pionierland dafür ist Island, wo außer Gebäudeheizungen auch gewerbliche Prozesse mit geothermischer Wärme bzw. Dampf betrieben werden. Hierzu gehören neben Gemüseanbau in Gewächshäusern und Fischzucht in Aquakulturteichen die Produktion von Bier, Speiseeis und Algen sowie weitere gewerbliche Prozesse. Für Kenia ist Island ein wichtiges Referenzland, da viele kenianische Geothermie-Expert:innen dort aus- und weitergebildet werden. Tatsächlich werden in Kenia bereits verschiedene Formen direkter geothermischer Nutzung erprobt. Neben dem bereits länger etablierten Blumenanbau und einem Spa sind dies Pilotprojekte mit Milch-Pasteurisierung, Gemüseanbau in Gewächshäusern, einer Wäscherei, Aquakulturteichen und Getreidetrocknung. Diese sowie weitere angedachte Nutzungen könnten insbesondere für Kenias ländlich-peripheren Norden, wo in großem Maßstab geothermische Ressourcen erschlossen werden (sollen), Chancen zur wirtschaftlichen Entwicklung bieten. Bisher sind dort viele Haushalte nicht ans nationale Stromnetz angeschlossen, und außerhalb der wenigen Städte leben die Menschen oft von mobiler Viehhaltung, ergänzt durch marginalen Ackerbau. Vor diesem Hintergrund und mit Fokus auf die Entwicklung der kenianischen Stromerzeugung und Geothermie-Projekte in Menengai und Baringo-Silali diskutiert der Beitrag die sich daraus ergebenden Chancen und Herausforderungen für die lokale wirtschaftliche Entwicklung.
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Several studies have questioned investors’ adequate consideration of the three pillars of sustainable development in the construction of development projects in the Global South. Other studies have proposed and developed frameworks for fostering their adoption and application in the planning and construction of such projects. However, relatively little attention has been directed to understanding the intricate processes and dynamics involved in investors’ adherence to these sustainability triad. This paper explores these sustainability adherence processes, and their associated challenges and imponderability in the context of large-scale geothermal projects development in Kenya. We argue that investors’ commitment to the sustainability framework in the development of such projects is characterized by sustainability tensions, reflected in conflicting interests, dilemmas, and power struggles that investors face as they attempt to simultaneously apply the three principles of sustainable development in delivering their projects. In order for investors to manage these tensions, the study shows that they engage in strategic selectivity, whereby the extent of adherence to certain components of the sustainability principles are based on winning interests, priorities and convenience. These processes are explored by drawing on perspectives from sustainable development, Triple-Bottom-Line and corporate sustainability discourses. Expert and informal interviews, document analyses, ethnographic fieldwork and field visits are used to track and illustrate these processes, using the case of large-scale geothermal project developments in Olkaria, Kenya.
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Universities are often seen as drivers of change in their regions of operation through research, teaching, engagement and enterprise activities. This is significant in Africa where several universities are state owned, rely on government subsidies, and possess a mission to promote the sustainable development of the nation. Whilest the UN sustainable development goals provide an opportunity for Africa to achieve its development targets, we examined the role of the university. More specifically, we considered the significance of Indigenous knowledge to a university’s mission towards development. This is pivotal, as Africans and their institutions provide leadership to the transformation of their nations, not just in terms of knowledge production but also integration. We adopted a multiple case-study design that recruited participants from Zambia (N = 50) and The Gambia (N = 40) comprising academics, university managers and community members. Participants took part in relational dialogues that address the intersection between Indigenous knowledge, the university’s mission and sustainable development. Findings from a comprehensive data analysis posit the need for the university in Africa to re-envision its teaching and research architectures for sustainable development. The chapter underscores that Indigenous knowledge holders should be provided space to contribute to the curricula if the teaching mission of the university would result in graduates who are suited to contribute to the continent’s development with sustainable outcomes. Similarly, it is argued that Indigenous people can be co-researchers, who can identify and provide indigenised methodological insights into the investigation of complex development challenges faced by their communities.
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The current population dynamics is projected to increase yearly, and expected to challenge the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in relation to food and nutrition security. While the demand for agricultural food products is increasing, the availability of cultivable land is either stable or decreasing due to various environmental factors such as drought, floods and climate change effects. Considering that sustainability can only be achieved when a system is resource conserving, socio-culturally supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally friendly, urban and peri-urban snail (Achatina fulica or Archachatina marginata) farming systems could represent viable sources of essential dietary nutrients and income for many families in Africa. Snail farming is profitable, with minimal capital and land demands, and limited risks. Snails are handpicked in the forest and easily farmed in gardens, backyards, basins, or cages. They are omnivores and environmentally friendly without odorous wastes (unlike pigs and poultry). Snails have high protein content, low in fat and cholesterol, and they are cheaper than other meat products. In addition, their by-products are inputs for other industries such as cosmetics and medicines. However, the current rate of snail farming in Cameroon barely satisfies 25% of the national demand. Hence, this study aims to encourage snail farming by evaluating the profitability of snail business as a valuable urban and peri-urban livestock alternative for sustainable development in Cameroon. Data were collected between March–May 2018 with the use of questionnaires administered to 60 urban and peri-urban snail farming households in the Buea Municipality, South West Region of Cameroon. Farm budgeting analysis enabled investigations of performance from farmers while semi-log functions enabled the evaluation of factors affecting the level of snail production in the study area. The descriptive statistics and gross margin results from farm budgeting and profit revealed a total production costs of only US$0.4 per kg, which produced fivefold return on investment and a profit of US$2 per kg of snail sold. Considering the environmental friendliness, profitability of snail business, and health value of snails in relation to food and nutrition security, urban and peri-urban snail farming is highly recommended within the scope of sustainable development in Cameroon.
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This article examines how rural roads relate to differences in livelihood patterns, attitudes toward social change, and land disputes in Baringo, Kenya. Although their direct use is limited for many residents, roads have a highly differentiating impact. While some households orientate themselves toward roads, those relying more on (agro-)pastoralist livelihoods avoid their proximity. Our findings suggest that better-off households are not the only ones that tend to live closer to roads, but that poorer households do as well. Rather than by socio-economic status, households living closer to roads can be characterized by higher degrees of formal education and also appear to be more open to economic and social change. Our data also highlight dynamics of land disputes in the face of ongoing large-scale infrastructural investments in Kenya’s previously marginal northern drylands.
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Communication with investors is an important component in the activities of SMEs and large companies. Facing the new changes (development of digital technologies, COVID-19, smart specialization) the search for optimal tools of communication with investors becomes a priority for all key stakeholders of the investment process (business, academia, civil society, local authorities). The aim of the article is to identify effective communication tools for business and develop recommendations for their use in the context of smart specialization. Subject of research: investor relations of large, medium and small companies in the context of smart specialization. The main research methods are systemic (to build a system of investor relations tools) and analytical (to determine the IR tools among the studied companies; to analyze the tools of investor relations by using social media). As a result of the study, it is determined that the promotion of the Ukrainian companies through social networks is inactive (Facebook – 13%, Instagram and Twitter – 4%, YouTube – 5% and LinkedIn – 1%). More than half of the surveyed companies indicate that the most common investor relations tools are news releases and presentations (71.4%), answers to questions (61.1%) and annual reports (52.7%). In this article, smart specialization is considered as a common tool for communication between key stakeholders. It was determined that in the conditions of COVID-19, they used the following tools: online dialogues, online conferences, online sessions, online workshops, online presentations, world cafes, annual lectures, online consultations, webinars (partner webinars). This study set out to explore investor relations tools in the context of smart specialization. In addition, such global tendencies were revealed as: IR boosting startups’ transformation into large companies; increasing both the investors’ interest to the companies and the requirements to corporate transparency promote using of IR tools; investor meetings via online platforms; impact of regional specifics on choosing IR tools of different companies. The results of the investigation show that Ukrainian companies have different IR politics. The main reasons why they use IR tools actively are their own internal requirements to the quality management and the need in external funding. Moreover, new legislation demands to the super advisory boards of public companies are reflected in using IR tools.
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As energy transitions are progressing and economies of scale are kicking in, renewable-electricity generation begins to include, and be dominated by, large-scale operations. This shift is accompanied by far-reaching changes in the ownership and financing structures of renewable-energy projects, involving connections and (inter)dependencies between international and domestic investors and policies. With growing sizes and maturity, renewable-energy projects are also increasingly taken to capital markets and have become subject to financialization. Until recently these processes have only been observed in the Global North but not in the Global South. So far there has been little research on renewable-energy financialization in the Global South, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. In our paper we address this gap by exploring the international connections and (possible) financialization of two large-scale renewable-energy projects in Kenya. Based on case study analyses of geothermal and wind projects in Kenya, we argue that due to their complex risk structure, public investment and support, both from domestic sources and development finance institutions (DFIs), are and will remain key to facilitate or even enable such projects. In contrast to Baker’s (2015) case-study on South Africa, we neither see nor expect financialization of large-scale renewable-energy projects in Kenya and most other Sub-Saharan African countries any time soon.
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Until recently, the Pokot in the highlands of the Baringo area in Kenya have practised semi-nomadic pastoralism. Today they are rapidly sedentarizing and in many areas suitable for farming, they are adopting rain-fed agriculture. As a result of these dynamics, claims to individual property on de facto communal rangelands have arisen, and to such an extent that they seriously threaten the peace of the community. This article explores the conflicts that emerge in the transition from common property to private tenure. Using locally prominent land disputes as exemplary cases, it focuses on the role of traditional gerontocratic authorities in the attempt to resolve a growing number of land disputes; on the emerging power of patrilineal clans and local elites in the enforcement of access to land; and on the incompetence of government agencies to intervene. The failure of customary institutions to ensure land tenure security leads to a situation in which women and marginalized actors in particular are threatened with displacement, and in which most local actors want the state to intervene and establish formal property rights.
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Geothermal development in Kenya’s Rift Valley will reap enormous energy benefits for the nation as a whole. But its impacts upon local communities, in this case in the Ol Karia area of Nakuru County, are often negative, and geothermal expansion has led to many divisions and conflicts over equitable resource use, environmental degradation, health impacts on humans and animals, forced resettlement, access to benefits including jobs, houses and profit sharing, human and land rights, and community representation vis-á-vis the geothermal companies. Many questions have been raised about the role of the state and international financial institutions (IFIs). Accusations abound at grassroots level of nepotism, corruption and discrimination, and some indigenous residents accuse the majority Maasai of doubly marginalising them in the scramble for rights and benefits. Against a background of historical continuities, land injustices, and global struggles for indigenous and marginalised peoples’ rights, this article examines the conflicts and complexities surrounding geothermal development at Ol Karia and its environs, and describes how people on the ground see the prospects for future peaceful co-existence with extractive industry on their lands.
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After decades of terrible ecological impacts, inefficiencies, corruption, and spatial injustices associated with dependencies on both centralised power generation and distribution in Africa, decentralised solar photovoltaic (PV) electrification is presented in the literature as an ‘irresistible’ alternative or complement necessary for a just, development-oriented and low-carbon energy transition. Affordable decentralised solar energy systems, however, currently have restrictive usage whereas systems with a larger capacity are accessible to a few richer social groups. The massive promotion of decentralised solar electrification does not even guarantee energy justice for all. This is due to contested notions of entitlements to and use of grid-based and off-grid electricity, relative spatial advantages or disadvantages, practical constraints linked to the pursuit of low-carbon energy solutions – particularly in situations where people/governments do not feel (morally) obliged to make commitments to climate change mitigation, and monopolistic tendencies of electricity distributors/suppliers. Furthermore, many electricity users in Africa lack the technical know-how and financial resources required for efficient self-organisation of decentralised solar PV electrification. Meanwhile, paradoxically, global north actors championing low-carbon energy technologies in Africa are sustaining their economies via massive use of fossil fuels – a behaviour referred to as ‘energy bullying’. Nonetheless, these quandaries should not be taken to imply ‘throwing away the baby with the bathwater’. Evidence presented from four idiographic cases suggests even that though context/country-specific conditions are decisive of the desirability of decentralised solar energy systems, certain general conditions necessary for the wider development of the technology in Africa are still discernible.
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Based on extensive original research, this book explores the technical, social, political, and economic dimensions of four Asian energy megaprojects: a regional natural gas pipeline network in Southeast Asia, a series of hydroelectric dams on the island of Borneo, an oil pipeline linking Europe with the Caspian Sea, and a very large solar energy array in the Gobi desert. © Benjamin K. Sovacool and Christopher J. Cooper 2013. All rights reserved.
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This article examines changing patterns of governance characterised by devolution as well as other developments associated with shifting centre-periphery relationships and their influences on conflict in northern Kenya. Kenya's 2010 constitutional reforms laid the ground for political devolution as a way to stem national-level political conflict as well as redress regional inequalities and historic marginalisation, particularly of the country's north. Counties in northern Kenya have benefitted from a windfall of public resources under devolution, coinciding with an influx of national and global investment in the region's infrastructure and resources. These parallel dynamics have raised the political stakes at the county-level as well as the spectre of a whole host of new tensions arising from people's expectations for jobs, contracts and greater economic opportunities. Focussing on Turkana County, the article finds that while levels of conflict have increased in northern Kenya since 2010, devolution enmeshes with other factors that define the region's changing relationship with the centre, including resource and infrastructural development as well as Al-Shabaab violence. These result in place-specific dynamics, creating a patchwork topography of conflict, confounding assumptions that there is a clear and unambiguous relationship between devolution, inter-communal relations and conflict.