Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at
Journal of Urban Technology
ISSN: (Print) (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cjut20
Off-Grid Electrical Urbanism: Emerging Solar
Energy Geographies in Ordinary Cities
Paul G Munro & Shanil Samarakoon
To cite this article: Paul G Munro & Shanil Samarakoon (2022): Off-Grid Electrical Urbanism:
Emerging Solar Energy Geographies in Ordinary Cities, Journal of Urban Technology, DOI:
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/10630732.2022.2068939
Published online: 12 Jul 2022.
Submit your article to this journal
View related articles
View Crossmark data
Oﬀ-Grid Electrical Urbanism: Emerging Solar Energy
Geographies in Ordinary Cities
Paul G Munro
and Shanil Samarakoon
Faculty of Arts, Design, and Architecture University of New South Wales;
Collaboration on Energy and
Environmental Markets Faculty of Arts, Design, and Architecture, University of New South Wales
Oﬀ-grid solar products, which are typically positioned as a solution
to rural energy poverty, have experienced rapid sales growth in
urban centers across the Global South over the last decade. In this
article, we critically examine the rapidly emerging oﬀ-grid
electrical urbanism in the Global South, with a focus on how oﬀ-
grid solar technologies are reshaping urban energy geographies in
“ordinary cities.”We document how forms of oﬀ-grid electrical
urbanisms have emerged as a response to urban energy poverty,
drawing on case study insights from Gulu (Uganda), Mzuzu
(Malawi), and Luganville (Vanuatu). In doing so, we demonstrate
how the ﬂow of oﬀ-grid solar products are shaped by a range of
diﬀering political economies—including ﬁnancial ﬂows, migration
dynamics, and regional aid programs. We go on to argue that oﬀ-
grid electrical urbanism, in its current form, is largely underpinned
by a marketized model of energy infrastructure disseminating. A
model that tends to reproduce geographies of energy inequality.
cities; oﬀ-grid solar; Vanuatu;
Over the past decade, an oﬀ-grid solar market has rapidly grown across the Global South.
Comprised predominantly of small-scale (pico) photovoltaic products, such as solar lan-
terns and solar home systems (SHS), this market had an initial boom in East Africa, and
is now rapidly spreading to other parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America, and
the South Paciﬁc. A recent report published by the Global Oﬀ-Grid Lighting Association
(GOGLA)—the global association for the oﬀ-grid solar energy industry—has tracked this
rise in some detail, calculating that the sector has grown from around 200,000 solar pro-
ducts being sold in the year 2010 to more than 35 million sold in 2019, making it a “US
$1.75 billion annual market, which remains on a solid growth curve”(GOGLA, 2020: 2).
There has been a “photovoltaic turn”in the Global South, as solar products have shifted
from being an expensive niche technology to being a common item in Global South
markets and shops (Munro, 2020; Cross and Neumark, 2021). Oﬀ-grid solar products
have been commonly framed as a technological solution that addresses rural energy
poverty (Jaglin, 2019). Certainly, oﬀ-grid solar products themselves were designed as a
solution to rural electricity access (Akrich, 1992; Cross, 2013), and many oﬀ-grid solar
© 2022 The Society of Urban Technology
CONTACT Paul Munro email@example.com
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY
enterprises frame their work as oﬀering “last mile distribution”to “cash-constrained
rural oﬀ-grid customers”(GOGLA, 2020). Even the name oﬀ-grid solar implies a geo-
graphical designation that the technologies are to be used in locations where the electrical
grid is absent. Nevertheless, as Jaglin (2019) notes, despite such a rural idiom, oﬀ-grid
solar products will ultimately play a key role in urban electrical futures due to a range
of political and economic dynamics. Indeed, oﬀ-grid solar products are already ubiqui-
tous in Global South urban centers, despite the existing presence of grid electricity
(Jaglin, 2019; Rateau and Jaglin, 2022; Walton and Ford, 2020; Munro, 2020; Samara-
In this article, we critically examine this recent and rapidly emerging oﬀ-grid electrical
urbanism in the Global South, with a focus on how it is reshaping urban energy geogra-
phies. We are interested in how technologies and their socio-natural environments are
co-produced by a combination of heterogeneous factors (Jaglin 2014; Castán Broto,
2019) We focus on the dynamics of oﬀ-grid solar in the context of what Jennifer Robin-
son (2002) frames as “ordinary cities”—and more speciﬁcally small ordinary cities—with
our case study analysis focused on relatively small urban centers that are not metropoles
of political or economic power. As has been noted, small urban spaces have tended to be
neglected in urban studies (Bell and Jayne, 2009; De Boeck, 2010; Hodson and Marvin,
2011; Zérah, and Denis, 2017; Koechlin and Förster, 2018), despite being home to more
than half of the world’s urban population (Massin, 2019). We are, therefore, attentive to
understanding what insights the “ordinary”space of small urban centers in the Global
South can oﬀer in terms of the dynamics of rapidly oﬀ-grid solar markets. And, some-
what inversely we ask: “How does the lens of oﬀ-grid solar technologies oﬀer new
ways for understanding ordinary city energyscapes in the Global South?”Our oﬀ-grid
electrical urbanism framing provides an analytical means from which to reconceptualize
urban energy geographies.
We draw on three urban case studies to animate our analysis, two from sub-Saharan
Africa, and one from the South Paciﬁc: (1) Gulu (Uganda); (2) Mzuzu (Malawi); and (3)
Luganville (Vanuatu). While these may be both “small”and “ordinary”cities, they are
not homogenous, and as will be explored in this article each has its distinct geographies,
histories, and dynamics that shape its urban praxis. Nevertheless, all three cities experi-
ence insuﬃcient grid electricity access and are the sites of rapidly growing oﬀ-grid solar
markets, hence their pertinence as case studies. The data for this article draw from three
separate research projects—one at each of the case study sites—that were conducted
between the years 2017 and 2020. Each of the projects involved ethnographic obser-
vations at the urban sites, which included semi-structured interviews with representa-
tives from the oﬀ-grid solar sector, the broader energy sector (e.g., government
oﬃcials, charity sector) and households. The research relating to Gulu was conducted
in 2017 and 2018 and involved 20 interviews with companies working in the oﬀ-grid
sector. The research in Mzuzu was conducted in 2019 and featured 13 interviews with
a range of oﬀ-grid solar users (households and small businesses) and a senior energy
policy expert, as well as a community discussion group on oﬀ-grid solar use in the
suburb of Msasa with 18 household participants. The research in Luganville was con-
ducted in 2020, and involved eight interviews with stakeholders working in, or engaging
with, the oﬀ-grid electricity sector. Interviews from the three projects were all tran-
scribed, coded, and analyzed. All three projects also involved in-depth reviews of relevant
literature (e.g., academic, policy, newspapers) relating to the case study’s energy
dynamics. All three case study projects had research ethics clearance from the University
of New South Wales [BLINDED FOR PEER-REVIEW] (Ethics approval number:
HC17935). [PLEASE ADD REFERENCES]
In the next section of the article, “Infrastructural Urban Energyscapes,”we develop a
conceptual framing for the article, through a critical review of literature on Global South
urbanism infrastructure, as well as contextualizing the rapidly growing oﬀ-grid solar
market. After that, we provide a narrative of the (oﬀ-grid) electricity geographies in
each of the three case study cities, which is then followed by an analysis of key oﬀ-
grid electrical urban themes. We conclude in a ﬁnal section.
Infrastructural Urban Energyscapes
The belief in a “modern infrastructural ideal,”whereby infrastructure (e.g., electricity,
water, sewerage) is uniformly delivered to urban residents by a centralized network is dis-
rupted by the infrastructural geographies of cities in the Global South (Kooy and Bakker,
2008; Furlong, 2014; Baptista, 2015; Lawhon et al., 2018; Guma, 2020).Electricity, and its
infrastructure, often form a critical part of this urban modernity vision, with grid elec-
tricity infrastructure expansion being a key policy focus of most governments in the
Global South. Nevertheless, while the “network city”is still a powerful and inﬂuential
ideal for urban planning in the Global South, in praxis the service needs of urban resi-
dents are obtained from a range of heterogeneous and/or hybridized infrastructures
and technologies (Jaglin, 2015; Monstadt and Schramm, 2017; Lawhon et al., 2018;
Smith, 2019; Castán Broto, 2019). Alongside conventional utilities, infrastructure pro-
vision is realized through the work of many small-scale operators, involving local
“private”actors such as small ﬁrms, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and Com-
munity-Based Organization and individuals, relying on makeshift low-cost technologies
and informal local institutions (Jaglin, 2014). Socio-technical diversity is thus a deﬁning
feature of Global South infrastructure geographies (Jaglin, 2014). Appreciating these
dynamics allows for a conceptual shift that moves a normative understanding of
Global South urbanism as an unﬁnished modernist project, to an analysis that highlights
the agency of the urban residents in shaping their own infrastructural and service needs
(Castán Broto, 2019). As Lawhon and Truelove (2020) argue, there is a need to situate
urban understandings in rich contexts, thus moving beyond Western-centric under-
standings of what urban space is. This means that more attention should be drawn
toward the creative and dynamic ways that Global South cities actually function
(Lawhon et al., 2014; Castán Broto, 2017,2019,2020; de Bercegol and Monstadt, 2018;
Munro, 2020; Watt, 2020; Robin and Castán Broto, 2021). There is a need for greater situ-
ated understandings of the what,how, and why relating to urban infrastructure
Robinson’s(2002,2006)notionof“ordinary cities,”building on Amin and Graham’s
(1997) terminology, has oﬀered a conceptual entry to rethink the urban. She critiques the
global and world city approaches that have dominated the ﬁeld of urban studies, noting
that “there are a large number of cities around the world which do not register on intellec-
tual maps that chart the rise and fall of global and world cities. They don’tfallintoeitherof
these categories and they probably never will”(Robinson, 2002: 531). Instead, such cities in
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 3
the Global South have tended to be problematically evaluated through the “lens of develop-
mentalism”—a narrow conception of what a city “should”look like. Robinson (2006), in
promoting the idea of “ordinary cities,”asks for urban theory that reﬂects the experiences
of a much wider range of cities, appreciating all their complexity, diversity, and peculiarity.
Although the notion of “ordinary cities”is not a form of urban typology (and includes a
focus on larger non-metropole cities), implicit to Robinson’s argument is that more atten-
tion also needs to be paid to smaller cities (cf., Bryson et al., 2021a,2021b). These smaller
cities are pertinent for studies on infrastructural dynamics because they tend to be situated
at the margin of the state, meaning that their political and economic spheres are more likely
to be shaped by the rhythms of local commerce, trading routes, smuggling networks, and
the vagaries of shifting political alliances (De Boeck et al., 2010). They are spaces worthy
of analytical and empirical attention in urban studies scholarship, not least because these
cities (i.e., cities with less than 500,000 inhabitants) represents just over half of the
world’s urban population (Massin, 2019).
Ensuring universal access to grid electricity is a key infrastructural policy tension
across many small urban centers in the Global South. According to the International
Energy Agency (IEA), in 2018 around 5 percent of the world’s urban population
lacked direct access to (grid) electricity. Sub-Saharan Africa, as a region, was recorded
as having the lowest urban electricity access rates, with an estimated 16 percent of the
urban population living with direct access to electricity. However, there is great variation
within the region. For example, in South Africa less than 5 percent of the country’s urban
population are without direct access to electricity, while in South Sudan it is more than 95
percent (IEA, 2020). In Uganda and Malawi (two of the case studies in this article), only
36.9 percent and 38.5 percent of urban residents are reportedly living with direct access to
the electrical grid (IEA, 2020). Vanuatu has been noted has having one of the highest
levels of acute electricity inaccessibility issues in the South Paciﬁc region (Dornan,
2014), with roughly around 20 percent of urban residents living without direct access
to grid electricity (VNSO, 2016; Munro, 2020). These statistical snapshots, however,
only provide a one-dimensional perspective of electricity access (Munro and Schiﬀer,
2019; Munro et al., 2020). There are great variations in access between diﬀerent urban
centers within each country. Furthermore, infrastructural inequalities can also emerge
within grid electrical networks due to diﬀerent governance and payment strategies
(Pilo 2021), the voltage quality of supply (Jacome et al., 2019), and power outages
(e.g., load shedding) (Ghanem, 2018; Silver, 2015; Munro, 2020; Rateau and Jaglin,
2022). This is something that the Global Oﬀ-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) has
observed in its most recent report, in which it recognizes that “the total potential
market as a result of unreliable grid exceeds one billion people”and indeed how “the
unreliable grid market is increasingly being tapped into by OGS [oﬀ-grid solar] products”
(GOGLA, 2020: 16; emphasis added).
The oﬀ-grid urban and unreliable grid urban population have thus become key target
markets for oﬀ-grid solar products. The diﬀusion of oﬀ-grid solar into markets in the
Global South has tended to take two distinct conﬁgurations (Samarakoon, 2020). The
ﬁrst has been through the work of social enterprise start-ups (Cross, 2019), who are
usually members of GOGLA, an international industry representation body that was set
up in 2012 with support from the World Bank. These companies have been involved in
selling clearly branded products that have been certiﬁed by peak bodies (e.g., Verasol)—
what GOGLA (2020) describes as “aﬃliated products”(see Samarakoon, 2020)—and
operate with sophisticated websites promoting their products, usually with rhetoric
around green technology and solving the issue of energy poverty (Samarakoon et al.,
2020). In addition to oﬀ-grid solar product development, these start-ups are also often
engaged in strategies to ﬁnance and facilitate their distribution. Most prominently, this
has included the development of Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) solar, a remote locking technol-
ogy that allows solar enterprises to render the use of their solar products useless unless
regular payments (usually via mobile money) are made by the purchaser (cf., Rolﬀs
et al., 2015; Barrie and Cruickshank, 2017; Ockwell et al., 2019; Barry and Cretti, 2020).
As Cross and Neumark (2021: 906) note, these products are ultimately “underpinned by
a complex socio-technical apparatus for lending, collecting, and monitoring repayments,
and for producing creditworthy consumers.”These companies have had considerable
success in attracting international funding for their operations, receiving an estimated
US$1.5 billion in (equity and debt) investment between 2012 and 2019 (GOGLA, 2020;
Cross and Neumark, 2021). The debt and equity investments underpinning these “start-
up”oﬀ-grid companies have mainly come from investors in North America and Europe
—some of these companies, for example, have their main oﬃces in San Francisco and
have direct links to the venture capital eco-system of Silicon Valley. Most of the companies
in this part of the sector are not yet proﬁtable, but instead are ﬁnancing their operations
from their debt and equity investments (Munro, 2020; Cross and Neumark, 2021). It is
approximated that these “aﬃliated products”make up around 30 percent of the oﬀ-grid
solar market in the Global South (GOGLA, 2020).
The remainder of the Global South oﬀ-grid solar market (i.e., ∼70 percent share) is a
market that comprises the sale of what GOGLA has described as “generic, copycat, and
counterfeit [photovoltaic] products”(GOGLA, 2018), or more recently with the more
neutral designation “unaﬃliated products”(GOGLA, 2020). Largely imported from
China, these “cheap”products have proliferated alongside the entrepreneurial solar
product distribution chain and are sold by hardware stores, street vendors, and informal
purveyors (Bensch et al., 2018; Jaglin, 2019; Samarakoon, 2020). They are mimetic tech-
nologies, often deriving their designs from branded entrepreneurial solar products, while
being sold at cheaper prices, with their quality and potential warranties being more
ambiguous (Grimm and Peters, 2016; Samarakoon, 2020). Their presence in the
Global South is immense.
The role of oﬀ-grid solar technologies in shaping urban space is mediated by a variety
of actors, knowledges, ideologies, and institutions (Jaglin, 2014). In particular, from this
perspective it is critical to recognize the role that the urban residents themselves play in
shaping their infrastructure geographies (Simone, 2004,2005,2013; Doherty, 2017). That
urban residents ﬁnd creative ways to realize their needs under the constraints of localized
conditions by devising diﬀerent technical and institutional solutions (Jaglin, 2014), what
Castán Broto (2019: 85) elegantly frames as the “daily choreographies of energy use.”
They are bricoleurs, making creative use of whatever materials are at hand to realize
their energy needs (Munro, 2020), working hard “to sustain not only survival in the
city but to bring forth new conditions of possibility”(Silver, 2014: 790). There is thus het-
erogeneity in terms of how urban residents encounter and use diﬀerent infrastructures to
fulﬁl their energy desires (Lawhon et al., 2018; Castán Broto, 2019; Caprotti et al., 2022).
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 5
Nevertheless, despite this heterogeneity, the energy-poor tend to be simply framed as
being customers (or potential customers) (GOGLA, 2020)
in much of the inﬂuential oﬀ-
grid solar market literature. Indeed, what is striking about oﬀ-grid solar markets, with the
aﬃliated products in particular, is how prevalent inﬂuential neoliberal perceptions of
Global South energy poverty are among many enterprises and investors (cf., Cross and
Neumark, 2021). There is a strong belief that the private sector and the market alone
have the power to solve energy poverty (Samarakoon, 2020). Jacobson (2007) and
Cross (2013) have both noted that this is not surprising, given oﬀ-grid solar’s ability to
be able to provide electrical services to individual households or even single appliances,
noting “the photovoltaic solar cell proved enormously compatible with neoliberal policies
that emphasized the role of the market in the delivery of energy services to people living
oﬀthe grid”(Cross, 2013: 372). Recent struggles with last-mile distribution, however, have
mildly tempered some of this neoliberal rhetoric. For example, Koen Peters, GOGLA’s
Executive Director, recently noted that despite earlier ideological rejection of the idea
of “subsidies”due to fears that they would cause a “distortion of the market”(Peters,
2020a) there is now some acceptance within the sector that limited subsidies may be
needed. This has speciﬁcally been framed as “public funding [for] stimulating companies”
(Peters, 2020b) to help them to reach the “poorest of the poor”(GOGLA, 2020).
This marketized framing of the oﬀ-grid solar sector is a relatively new phenomenon.
Solar oﬀ-grid products were certainly not designed with marketization in mind (Akrich,
1992), and earlier eﬀorts to drive their dissemination throughout the Global South was
largely driven by the work of the not-for-proﬁt charity sector (Munro et al., 2016; Bha-
midipati et al., 2019; Cross and Neumark, 2021). Nevertheless, over the past decade,
market-based approaches to provisioning electricity have become hegemonic, increas-
ingly being accepted as being central to the aim of achieving universal access to electricity
in the Global South (Samarakoon, 2020). This has led to numerous “market-friendly
policy orientations (e.g., removing duties on renewable energy products), and a wide
array of ﬁnancial mechanisms oﬀered by institutions (grants and soft loans) that encou-
rage energy businesses”(Samarakoon, 2020: 1). Indeed, aid funding and some not-for-
proﬁt work in the Global South has now been reoriented towards facilitating the
market dissemination of oﬀ-grid solar products (Bhamidipati et al., 2019; Samarakoon,
2020). Oﬀ-grid solar products, and the markets in which they operate, can, therefore,
be understood as exemplars of what Pilo and Jaﬀe(2020) describe as “political material-
ity.”On the one hand they oﬀer the material provision of electrical access; on the other,
they represent a commitment to market-based ideological approaches to addressing
energy poverty that shapes broader praxis within the development sector.
The strong inﬂuence of marketization imperatives within the sector, however, does
not mean the sector necessarily operates with a relatively straightforward for-proﬁt
motive. As Bhamidipati et al. (2019) note, due to heterogeneous organizations driven
by diﬀerent sets of agendas in the energy space with a “varied set of logics [are] not
easily captured by the simplistic notions of ‘proﬁt’in relation to private companies,
and ‘development’with regard to aid organizations.”Indeed, most companies in the
oﬀ-grid solar sector frame themselves as being social enterprises (Munro et al., 2016;
Cross, 2019), with the social objective of alleviating energy poverty arguably being
the key driver of much of their work. The use of a market-based mechanism is the
means to achieve this. What is relevant, however, are the structural imperatives that
have come with the oﬀ-grid market approach, as will be shown in the three case studies
The current emergence of oﬀ-grid electrical urbanism in the Global South is a mani-
festation of these above dynamics. It is the intersection of the material urban space,
characterized by limited and/or unreliable and the emergence of an oﬀ-grid solar
sector driven heavily by market ideals. In this context, the gravitation of conceived
rural oﬀ-grid electricity technologies towards the urban “consumers”is unsurprising.
Urban space tends to have higher economies of scale, access to trade routes, disposal
(and cash) incomes and “customer”credit ratings compared to rural areas. Thus, for
(indebted) start-up companies selling aﬃliated solar products, urban customers are the
most lucrative in their quest for proﬁtably. In terms of unaﬃliated oﬀ-grid solar pro-
ducts, urban centers also tend to be a frequent destination for these products, given
that they are usually bundled into the same trade routes as other electrical (e.g., televi-
sions, speakers) commodities. Oﬀ-grid electrical urbanism is thus, as shown in the
case studies below, a conﬁguration of the ideological with the material, with oﬀ-grid tech-
nologies not necessarily ﬂowing to the those in greatest “need”of electricity, rather
ﬂowing to those with stronger abilities to pay. Urban consumers are thus a “logical”des-
tination for many of these products. Hence the emergence and expansion of an oﬀ-grid
Oﬀ-Grid Electrical Urbanism: Three Case Studies
Gulu is the largest town in northern Uganda and acts as an administrative headquarters for
the region. It was oﬃcially designated as a “city”in July 2020. The city went through a rapid
period of growth during the 1990s and early 2000s when around 90,000 internally displaced
persons (IDPs) from conﬂict-aﬀected areas of northern Uganda made their way to Gulu to
seek sanctuary (Branch, 2013; Büscher et al., 2018), leading to a current-day population of
well over 150,000 residents (UBOS, 2016). Grid electricity arrives into Gulu via a transmission
line from hydroelectric dams on the Nile River in central Uganda. The grid electricity supply
is erratic, with blackouts occurring frequently (Munro, 2020). Like the rest of Uganda, this
electricity distribution is overseen by the fully privatized utility company, Umeme, that
was formed in 2005 as a part of the Ugandan Government’s strategy of liberalizing the coun-
try’senergysector(Gore,2009,2017). The most recent census in 2014 estimated that only
34.1 percent of Gulu’shouseholdswereconnectedtotheelectricalgrid(UBOS,2016).
Oﬀ-grid solar products are prominent in Gulu, both as a commodity sold in markets
and as items used to power households. A household survey conducted in Gulu in 2017 (n
= 190) found that 30.6 percent of households were using some kind of photovoltaic solar
product (Munro and Bartlett, 2019), a percentage that has likely grown, given Uganda’s
overall recorded growth in oﬀ-grid solar sales (GOGLA, 2019). Both “aﬃliated”and
“unaﬃliated”solar products are widely available in Gulu. Unaﬃliated solar products
have a strong visual presence throughout the urban center. Along the city’s main street,
there are more than a dozen shops selling solar products and other electrical items.
Similar products are also available through scatter shops around the rest of the city and
within the Gulu marketplace. These shops sell larger solar modules (See Figure 1), and
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 7
batteries and inverters which are sold separated, although smaller solar lanterns are also
available throughout the markets. There are also numerous informal roadside sellers
selling small solar products on their laid-out blankets. The shop-owners, many of
whom are part of the South Asian diaspora in Uganda (cf., Aiyar, 2017), noted that
solar customers came from urban centers and surrounding rural localities.
Gulu has also been a popular site for oﬀ-grid solar enterprises—selling branded
“aﬃliated”solar products—due to its eﬀective designation as the capital of Uganda’s
northern region. Since 2015, a range of solar start-up enterprises, which have their
main operations run out of Uganda’s capital city Kampala, have set up branches in the
Gulu urban center, including, Solantis,
and MTN’s Easypay Power System (through Fenix International).
them, however, have since closed down their Gulu Branch due to a range of ﬁnancial
and logistical reasons. The solar enterprise Lumi
has its main (and only) operations
Figure 1. Solar modules being sold along the main street of Gulu
oﬃce in Gulu, and has an exclusive focus on the northern Ugandan region. With the
exception of SolarNow, which is focused on large-scale installations, all of the enterprises
have used PAYG solar technology in some form as a means to ﬁnance the sale of their
solar products to customers. All of these start-ups have either European (e.g., Solantis,
Village Power, SunnyMoney, SolarNow) or North American origins (i.e., Fenix Inter-
national, SunKing, Lumi) and usually operate with a head or strategic oﬃce in the
Global North. Complex series of debt and equity funding arrangements underpin the
ﬁnancing of these companies. Greenlight Planet, the owner of Sun King oﬀ-grid solar
products, for example, has managed to source more than US$190 million in investor
funding since its founding in 2006. These companies are part of a nascent global exper-
iment in the ﬁnancialization of Africa’s energy poor (Munro, 2020).
Conversations with PAYG solar enterprises reveal how important the urban Gulu
market is for their business. One company representative noted, “the urban, peri-
urban is really the successful areas for the branded products,”while the theme of “low
hanging fruit of peri-urban sales”emerged in interviews with several other PAYG com-
panies. A fourth observed that “When we try and go outside, try to go more rural, the
daily price [for PAYG repayments] is still just too high.”Although sales to rural custo-
mers still occur, the representatives had found that the Gulu residents were their main
sales market due to higher incomes and proximity. Relatedly, mobile money use and
infrastructure also shaped sales: “the further you go [from urban centers], the harder
it is to ﬁnd mobile money agents, and all the collections for our PAYG are made by
mobile money.”Recent research funded by the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD) supports these observations, with data showing Gulu as
having considerably higher rates of both PAYG solar adoption and active mobile
money users per capita than any of its surrounding rural districts (Jain et al., 2019).
The potential lucrativeness of the urban markets has also been observed on a broader
strategic level, and numerous PAYG companies (e.g., Sunking, Village Power, Fenix Inter-
national) have recently developed small DC-power televisions that are sold alongside
their larger SHS products. Given their cost (overall, and through PAYG repayments)
they are likely to have limited appeal to rural customers. Indeed, one PAYG solar
company representative noted that they were the perfect product for smaller urban
areas and peri-urban settlements as they have “slightly higher income than rural, but
still deep problems with getting access to the grid.”Therefore, although often framing
their operations as oﬀering last-mile distribution for solar products, PAYG solar sales
model and products in Gulu were are arguably orientated toward urban and peri-
urban markets, hence their great success in these locations (cf., Barry and Creti, 2020).
Gulu, thus, could be framed as a key site for pay as PAYG solar urbanism, a reﬂection
of how the “aﬃliated”solar industry has increasingly become focused on middle-class
urban markets. There are broader structural phenomena behind this shift. As noted
earlier, the vast majority of start-up companies working in the Global South oﬀ-grid
solar sector—including those operating in Gulu—are not yet proﬁtable, rather they are
largely running their operations on (equity and loan) investment debt. The need for
proﬁtability is thus a key driving concern within the sector (GOGLA, 2020;Cross and
Neumark, 2021), and as the situation in Gulu shows, this has implications in terms of
how oﬀ-grid companies have chosen to expand their operations. These “aﬃliated”oﬀ-
grid solar products are exemplars of the contrast between actual and intended use
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 9
(Akrich, 1992; Smith, 2019). Although they were designed and promoted as a rural pre-
electriﬁcation solution, in future it is clear that they will play a signiﬁcant role in addres-
sing latent demand for electricity access in urban spaces (Jaglin, 2019). This aligns with
what Cross and Neumark have observed in their recent research of the oﬀ-grid solar
sector. That for many of these (venture-capital backed) companies, “providing oﬀ-grid
energy to precarious populations had lost its shine”and in its place a more engrained
commitment to economic growth, and in particular by “scaling up their operations
beyond the poor”(Cross and Neumark, 2021: 911). It is an ideological commitment to
the market that has meant that the formal oﬀ-grid solar sector’s future is increasingly
more orientated towards (middle-class) urban markets, rather than the rural energy
poor (especially those living in remote areas).
Located on the saddle of the Viphya Mountains in Mzimba District, Mzuzu is Malawi’sthird-
largest urban center. Originally a Tung Oil Estate established in 1947, Mzuzu was declared a
city in 1985 (UN Habitat, 2011) and has since become an important administrative and
business hub in northern Malawi. The city has a population of 221,272 and is currently
Malawi’s fastest-growing urban center with a growth rate of 5.4 percent and a population
density of 1,516 per sq km (NSO, 2019). Much of this growth has been unplanned, and a
lack of adequate infrastructure has resulted in the majority of the population living in
unplanned settlements lacking access to basic services such as water, electricity, and sanitation.
Like other cities in Malawi, Mzuzu’s grid connectivity is concentrated in the city’s
central business district. It is estimated that 125,644 residents (56.78 percent) use grid-
based electricity as their main source of lighting (NSO, 2019), which is supplied by the
Electricity Supply Company of Malawi (ESCOM), a beleaguered parastatal entity that
has been the subject of numerous corruption scandals (Nyasa Times, 2020a) and
reforms (Nyasa Times, 2020b). ESCOM’s supply is notoriously unreliable, with extended
power cuts being part of the daily rhythms of life in the fast-growing city.
While the thrum of diesel generators can be heard across the city during power cuts,
they are typically used by large businesses, government departments, and aﬄuent house-
holds. For the majority of Mzuzu’s residents, oﬀ-grid solar devices are an increasingly
economical option. Indeed, oﬀ-grid solar products have emerged in response to the inade-
quacies of Mzuzu’s centralized grid infrastructure. At a national level, the state hopes that
as much as 50 percent of Malawian households (2.8 million households) will gain access to
electricity through the purchase of home-scale solar devices by 2030 (GoM, 2017). This
has been facilitated by the removal of import duties and value-added tax (VAT) on
imported solar panels and batteries (Samarakoon, 2020). In fact, Malawi’s northern
region appears to be at the forefront of this turn towards oﬀ-grid solar products with
an estimated 12.3 percent of households using a solar device for lighting compared to
6.6 percent nationally (NSO, 2019). Mzuzu’s trading center is ﬁlled with market stalls
and electronics stores that sell a wide array of unaﬃliated solar products that cater to a
range of budgets—from solar lanterns to large solar household systems. While a
handful of aﬃliated solar social enterprises such as Sunny Money,
operate in Malawi and sell PAYG solar systems, their presence
in Mzuzu, and indeed the north more generally, is modest. Their operations are still
10 P. MUNRO
largely clustered around metropolitan Lilongwe (the nation’s capital) in central Malawi.
Recent ethnographic insights from Mzuzu suggest, that the city’s supply of solar products
is dominated by unaﬃliated solar products of varied quality that are sold without warran-
ties (Samarakoon, 2020; Samarakoon et al., 2020). There is also a distinct ethno-geo-
graphic hierarchy at play, as South and East Asian migrants tend to constitute the
majority of importers and large store owners, while local distributors sell cheaper
goods through smaller shops and market stalls (Englund, 2002; Samarakoon et al., 2021).
In addition to the ﬂow of oﬀ-grid solar products traded through stores in Mzuzu,
Malawian diaspora based in South Africa appear to play an important role in this
oﬀ-grid electrical geography. Cultural ties and the search for greater economic oppor-
tunities in South Africa has been accompanied by inﬂows of various appliances, as well
as the means to power them. As an illustrative example, when asked about her house-
hold’s solar system, an interviewee said, “My father lives in South Africa and one time
he came three years ago, and I asked him to buy me a panel.”Systems being purchased
by relatives in South Africa are a common practice in northern cities such as Mzuzu
(see Figure 2) and Mzimba, primarily as products imported into South African are
Figure 2. A solar controller purchased by a household in Mzuzu from South Africa (branded with a
South African ﬂag)
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 11
perceived as being of higher quality. These systems are brought back in person during
visits, or through hired transporters that negotiate customs processes and deliver goods
on their behalf (Samarakoon et al., 2021). This can also involve bringing in second-
hand systems as goods for resale in the Malawian market, further complicating
matters concerning product quality (Samarakoon, 2020). Thus, we can see that
Mzuzu’soﬀ-grid electrical infrastructure is also buttressed by relational networks and
intermediaries who facilitate an informal pathway for solar devices into Malawi from
overseas. This regional connection with diaspora in South Africa may also help
explain why northern Malawi has considerably higher levels of solar adoption when
compared to other regions.
Contrary to their intended purposes as a precursor to grid access, oﬀ-grid solar
systems feature in a range of heterogeneous electric conﬁgurations in urban Mzuzu.
Households that live in the shadow of the city’s limited grid infrastructure, such as
those in the suburb of Masasa, view solar systems as a necessary compromise until
the grid reaches their premises (Samarakoon, 2020). However, in praxis households
do not make a binary choice between an oﬀ-grid solar system and grid-based electricity.
Rather, solar electricity tends to be viewed as a valuable “backup,”less capable but more
aﬀordable and reliable than the electricity supplied by ESCOM. As a city resident
explained, “ESCOM power can help me power big appliances like big audio systems,
while solar can help supplement things when ESCOM is not working.”Layered on
to this are issues of aﬀordability as the tendency is for households to rely on solar
for basic energy services such as lighting and mobile phone charging when their pre-
paid ESCOM units run out. This hybridized use of solar and grid-based power is
increasingly common in Mzuzu and could be described as a pragmatic response that
accounts for the strengths and limitations of each source of electricity. In interviews
with vendors in Mzuzu’s main marketplace, even those who relied on oﬀ-grid solar
systems due to a lack of grid access admitted to periodically relying on friends or
other businesses with grid connections to charge their solar batteries on inclement
days, or when their systems required repair.
Through this case study, we can appreciate how oﬀ-grid solar products have emerged
in response to the inadequacies of Mzuzu’s centralized grid infrastructure. Yet rather
than it being an alternative to centralized infrastructure, oﬀ-grid solar products are
being used in complementary hybrid conﬁgurations. However, as we will expand on
in the ensuing discussion, the attenuation of the grid’s failings through oﬀ-grid solar
devices can generate other forms of injustice. In the case of Mzuzu, a site of rapid urban-
ization, residents face a deepening commitment to a poorly regulated solar market that
they are often ill-equipped to navigate (Samarakoon, 2020; Samarakoon et al., 2021).
While the city of Mzuzu, and indeed Malawi more generally, is at a relatively nascent
stage of its photovoltaic turn in comparison to east African nations such as Uganda,
there are signs that it may experience a similar surge in aﬃliated PAYG oﬀ-grid solar dis-
tribution. USAID’s USD 1.5 million “Solar Home System Kick-Starter Program for
Malawi”(USAID, 2019) and SunFunder providing aﬃliated distributor Yellow with
USD 4 million in debt ﬁnancing (SunFunder, 2021) are reﬂective of the growing attention
to the perceived market potential for oﬀ-grid solar in Malawi. However, as seen through
the case of Gulu, the ﬁnancial incentives at play may mean that this potential is premised
on catering to the urban middle class in cities like Mzuzu; leaving less aﬄuent
12 P. MUNRO
populations to adopt unaﬃliated oﬀ-grid solar products or draw on diaspora networks in
their quest for basic energy services.
Luganville is the second-largest city in Vanuatu and is located on the island of Espiritu Santo
in the north of the Vanuatu archipelago. According to the country’s 2016 mini-census, the
urban center had a population of 16,312, although if the peri-urban surroundings are
included, the population was 27,184 (i.e., including the districts South-East Santo, and
Canal-Fanafo, which are in the Luganville urban grid electricity concession). The current
population (urban and peri-urban), however, is likely to be well over 30,000 as in 2018
the city received an inﬂux of around 6,000 people, who were evacuated from the nearby
Ambae Island due to an imminent volcano eruption (IFRC, 2019). To help aid with the
inﬂux, many chiefs and landowners agreed to provide land (under diﬀerent tenure arrange-
ments) in Luganville and its surroundings for the displaced people of Ambae (RNZ, 2018),
and subsequently many of them have permanently settled in Luganville.
A main street, running on an east/west axis, runs through the middle of Luganville and
contains most of the city’s (and island’s) commercial businesses and shops. The main
street’s western end is bisected by the Sarakata River whose upstream provides much
of the city’s grid electricity supply thanks to a run of river hydropower facility that
was installed by the Japanese Government in 1994/5, with an upgrade in 2009 (Polack
2010; JICA, 2017). The balance of the electricity supply is provided by diesel generators
located near the center of Luganville, and three grid-connected solar arrays installed on
the top of government buildings (Munro, 2021). Luganville (along with the capital city of
Port Vila) is one of only two urban centers in Vanuatu with 24-hour grid electricity,
although microgrids, with various levels of reliability, can be found in various locations
across the archipelago. Since 2010, grid electricity supply in Luganville has been managed
and provided by the private sector company Vanuatu Utilities Infrastructure (VUI)
which is wholly owned by the United States-based Pernix Group. According to the
2016 census, 55 percent of households in Luganville were connected to the electrical
grid: 76 percent of urban residents, and 26 percent of peri-urban residents (VNSO,
2016; See Table 1). These ﬁgures, however, predate the inﬂux of evacuated residents
from Ambae Island, many of whom are living in Luganville without direct electricity
access. Thus, connection percentage ﬁgures have likely decreased, despite an overall
gradual increase in Luganville’s grid network reach (URA, 2018; Munro 2021).
The use of oﬀ-grid solar products has become increasingly common in Vanuatu over
the past decade. As Walton and Ford (2020: 5) recently noted, portable solar lights are
Table 1. Main source of lighting in Luganville, including the districts of Luganville (urban), South-East
Santo, and Canal-Fanafo (peri- urban), sourced from the Vanuatu National Statistics Oﬃce (VNSO)
2016 mini-census. SHS = Solar Home System
SHS (> 50
SHS (< 50
Urban 16,312 3,024 76.2% 0.7% 5.8% 2.0% 13.7% 1.7%
10872 2,176 26.0% 2.4% 21.2% 13.0% 34.3% 3.1%
TOTAL 27,184 5,200 55.2% 1.4% 15.0% 6.6% 22.3% 2.3%
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 13
“prominent in rural [Vanuatu] villages where they are readily visible, found either
hanging on the houses or placed on grassy clearings to gather the sun’s rays.”From a
policy perspective, oﬀ-grid solar products (solar lanterns and SHSs) have been con-
structed as a solution to Vanuatu’srural energy poverty, while extending the grid is
the solution to urban energy issues (UNDP, 2014; GoV, 2016; DoE, 2017a). For
example, in Luganville there are currently plans to expand its hydropower electricity
supply and make major extensions to its grid network to achieve 100 percent urban
grid access by 2030 (GoV, 2016; JICA, 2017). This neat distinction of electricity technol-
ogy geographies, however, has not played out in practice. As Table 1 shows, Vanuatu’s
rural oﬀ-grid solar technologies are popular among Luganville’surban residents. In
the 2016 Vanuatu mini census, 43.9 percent of Luganville’s residents (urban and peri-
urban) use a solar-powered device (either an SHS or a solar lantern) as their main
source of energy for lighting (VNSO, 2016). This percentage has likely grown, as
Vanuatu has experienced a considerable boom in oﬀ-grid solar product sales since
2017 (GOGLA, 2019).
Similar to the sub-Saharan African examples above, “aﬃliated”and “non-aﬃliated”
oﬀ-grid solar products are both sold in shops within Luganville. However, the ways
the oﬀ-grid solar market operates in Luganville (and Vanuatu) is considerably
diﬀerent. Along the main street of Luganville, there are around a dozen variety shops
selling groceries, appliances, and clothing items, which include on their shelves a selec-
tion of “unaﬃliated”oﬀ-grid solar products (see Figure 3). These are known in local ver-
nacular as “Chinese shops”as most of them are owned and run by Chinese diaspora
immigrants (Walton and Ford, 2020). They stock oﬀ-grid products ranging from small
lanterns to modular solar equipment big enough for commercial applications. These
shops do not appear to use distribution networks to sell products, rather they sell the
Figure 3. Generic branded solar home systems for sale within a variety shop in Luganville
14 P. MUNRO
oﬀ-grid products at the point-of-sale (Kelly et al., 2014). This has meant that the network
of their sales has largely been concentrated around the Luganville urban center (Kelly
et al., 2014). They tend to serve an urban market.
The aﬃliated (branded) solar products are predominantly sold by two stores in Lugan-
ville: Power and Communications Solutions (PCS)
and eTech Vanuatu
their main branches in Port Vila). Unlike in sub-Saharan Africa, these companies are
not social enterprise start-ups; rather they are long-established businesses in Vanuatu
that have recently added oﬀ-grid solar products to existing operations. Both companies
were founded in 2002 with existing business operations in the areas of IT equipment
(eTech) and telecommunications infrastructure (PCS) (DoE, 2019). Both companies
are vendors for the Vanuatu Rural Electriﬁcation Program (VREP), a New Zealand Gov-
ernment funded initiative (with World Bank support) that pays a subsidy between 33 to
50 percent on selected oﬀ-grid products (DoE, 2017a). The program commenced in 2016
and is due to ﬁnish its ﬁnal phase in 2023. The products can be bought through outright
purchase, lay-by or ﬁnance schemes, including a PAYG solar option (DoE, 2017b).
However, vendors noted the latter option was not popular and hardly used, likely due
to the low use of mobile money in Vanuatu. While the VREP program—as evidenced
by its name—is targeted at rural electriﬁcation, there are no restrictions on who can
buy the subsidized products. As the VREP catalogue states the “VREP subsidy [is] avail-
able to all households”(DoE, 2017b; emphasis added). Sellers of the product in Lugan-
ville conﬁrmed that the subsidized products were popular with urban customers and
could even be bought by people who already had a connection to the electrical grid.
Luganville’soﬀ-grid urban solar boom has been rapid. From an estimated 0.9 percent of
Luganville residents using oﬀ-grid solar as their main lighting source in 2009 (VSNO, 2009)
to more than 40 percent in 2016 (VSNO, 2016) and likely mass continue growth since
(GOGLA, 2019). Out of the three case studies, Luganville likely has the greatest proportion
of residents using solar. This is despite Vanuatu (and the South Paciﬁc) being relatively per-
ipheral to the global oﬀ-grid lighting sector that has tended to have strong bias towards the
larger Asian and African markets. Indeed, Kelly et al. (2014: 3) have noted how the South
Paciﬁc struggled to important pico-solar products between 2010 and 2013, as “manufactur-
ing capacity was swamped, and supply preference was given to the largest markets in Asia
and Africa,”quite simply “the Paciﬁc was not a priority”(Kelly et al., 2014). Rather than
through social enterprises, more traditional aid development interventions have had to
drive Vanuatu’s and Luganville’soﬀ-grid solar boom, albeit still using the private sector
for delivery. This includes the current New Zealand funded VREP program (2016 to
2023), and an earlier Australian Government-funded Lighting Vanuatu Project (2010 to
2012) (Kelly et al., 2014; Walton and Ford, 2020). Collectively, these two programs have
helped to disseminated around 75,000 oﬀ-grid solar products across Vanuatu’sislands
(Kelly et al., 2014; DoE, 2019). The equivalent of 1.4 oﬀ-grid solar products per house-
In contrast to debates in GOGLA literature and forums, concerns or discussions
about “market distortion”have not featured in the documents and commentaries relating
to the VREP and Lighting Vanuatu programs (Kelly et al., 2014; Walton and Ford, 2020;
DoE, 2019). A diﬀering ideology governs Vanuatu’soﬀ-grid solar sector.
While the boom of urban oﬀ-grid solar products is recent, there has been a longer
history of oﬀ-grid solar products being used in Vanuatu (e.g., UNDP 1982). Indeed,
the archipelago geography of Vanuatu, like other Paciﬁc Island nations and territories,
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 15
make decentralized oﬀ-grid energy technologies appealing (To et al., 2021). The earliest
projects were driven by aid programs, and while the aid sector still plays a key role in
disseminating oﬀ-grid solar products, there is a trend towards the commercialization,
privatization and commodiﬁcation of the sector. The Australian Government funded
Lighting Vanuatu Project (2010 to 2012), for example, used not-for-proﬁtorganizations
in Vanuatu to disseminate oﬀ-grid solar products on a commercial basis. The more
recent New Zealand government funded VREP program (2016 to 2023), uses private
sector companies to sell products, predominantly from their retail outlets in Vanuatu’s
two biggest urban centers (Luganville and the capital city of Port Villa). The ideological
shift from aid projects to commercial distributions has thus also caused a geographical
shift—from implemented rural oﬀ-grid projects to oﬀ-grid product point-of-sales in
urban markets. While the costs of oﬀ-grid products are subsidized with VREP, dissemi-
nation is largely left up to the “market.”Thus, similar to the case studies of Gulu and
Mzuzu, the increased urban sales of oﬀ-grid solar products in Luganville sit in congru-
ence with the increase marketization of the sector.
Oﬀ-Grid Electrical Urbanism: Key Themes
An emerging geography of oﬀ-grid solar urbanism is evident across the case studies, with
conservative ﬁgures of 12 to 42 percent of households in the diﬀerent urban centers using
oﬀ-grid solar products. Percentages that are likely to continue to grow (GOGLA, 2019,
2020). Oﬀ-grid solar products at each urban site, however, represent distinctive socio-
technical conﬁgurations as there have been diﬀerent actors, values, and institutions
shaping their presence and dynamics. Gulu has arisen as an example of oﬀ-grid PAYG
solar urbanism in that it has emerged as a key market for social enterprises that identify
as part of a global oﬀ-grid sector (e.g., members of GOGLA). It is part of a broader
ﬁnancial global experiment to address energy poverty through speculative capital and
ﬁnancial technology (ﬁntech) innovations. This PAYG solar urbanism is yet to reach
Mzuzu on a large-scale (although it is growing in Malawi), rather a major factor in
driving solar uptake has been the diaspora geographies of southern Africa—Malawian
émigrés living in relatively wealthy South Africa supplying funds and oﬀ-grid solar pro-
ducts for their relatives in Mzuzu. While in Luganville it is the aid sector—rather than
speculative capital investments—that has provided key funding support to market and
distribute oﬀ-grid solar products. While programs have been focused on rural electriﬁca-
tion, in their wake a sizeable oﬀ-grid solar population in Luganville has emerged. These
contrasting oﬀ-grid urban geographies reﬂect Lawhon et al.’s observation that infrastruc-
tural artifacts should not be thought of “as individual objects but as parts of geographi-
cally spread out socio-technological conﬁgurations: conﬁgurations which might involve
many diﬀerent kinds of technologies, relations, capacities and operations, entailing
diﬀerent risks and power relationships”(Lawhon et al., 2018: 722). The presence of
oﬀ-grid solar products in each of the three “ordinary cities”case studies is not happen-
stance, rather their presence at each site has been shaped by a range of diﬀering political
economies, including ﬁnancial ﬂows, migration dynamics, and regional aid programs.
Fundamental to oﬀ-grid electrical urbanism is the role of people. Oﬀ-grid solar pro-
ducts—both due to their modular design and market-based dissemination strategies—
rely on formal and informal people networks for their distribution. One theme that
16 P. MUNRO
was common across the three case studies was the role that the Asian diaspora commer-
cial trade networks play in shaping oﬀ-grid solar urban geographies. In Uganda, South
Asian diaspora trading networks; in Vanuatu, East Asian networks; and in Mzuzu,
both, were major distributors of “non-aﬃliated”solar products. These networks are
exemplars of what Choplin and Pliez (2015) describe as “inconspicuous globaliza-
tion”—the globalization of peripheral areas by small players who work at the margins
(Jaglin, 2019). They note that this “inconspicuous globalization”can be perceived by
“examining geopolitical reconﬁgurations, the type of traded goods, the growing role of
economic actors such as entrepreneur-migrants and diasporas, and the changing hierar-
chy among cities”and that it “is structured along rural centers, small towns, and paths
that are not easy to access even for the stakeholders who operate in these regions.”
The presence of these “unaﬃliated”solar oﬀ-grid products is thus the result of capitalized
and more-or-less systemized, but also informal, ﬂexible, and spatially ephemeral diaspora
supply networks (Munro and van der Horst, 2015; Mainet and Racaud, 2015; Racaud,
2015). As a result of these networks, similar, if not the same, generic brand oﬀ-grid
solar products can be found across variety shops in Gulu, Mzuzu, and Luganville.
The oﬀ-grid solar boom has undoubtedly resulted in increased access to electricity
across the Global South. However, there are pernicious issues that have arisen from the
speciﬁc geographies of its spread, as well as asymmetries in power and information that
are inherent to marketized models of dissemination (Samarakoon, 2020; Samarakoon
et al., 2021). Unlike grid electricity infrastructure (which tends to be provided by the
state), the material infrastructure of oﬀ-grid solar products are commodities. This consti-
tutes a break in the social contract of electricity infrastructural provision, from being a
social good being delivered by government, to being a proﬁtable commodity being sold
by enterprise. Through oﬀ-grid solar markets, the energy poor are implicitly reframed
as customers (rather than citizens), while oﬀ-grid social enterprises are governed by
boards of directors and have their praxis shaped by the vagaries of their investors.
There is, thus, a socioeconomic reality that shapes access—oﬀ-grid solar products are
still beyond the reach of the “poorest of the poor”(GOGLA, 2020), and indeed their
popular rise in “ordinary cities”is a reﬂection of this marketized logic. Thus, urban oﬀ-
grid solar products, through the cases of Gulu, Mzuzu, and Luganville can be seen as tem-
porary salves, addressing some of the shortcomings of state-driven grid-access, while
introducing new justice concerns through their deep reliance on market mechanisms.
In this article, we have detailed the emergence of oﬀ-grid electrical urbanism in the
Global South. Speciﬁcally, we have shown how the boom in sales of oﬀ-grid solar pro-
ducts over the last decade—despite being framed as a rural technology—has resulted
in changing urban energy geographies. Across the Global South, urban residents are
increasingly using oﬀ-grid solar systems as an alternative or backup for their electricity
needs. Nevertheless, as we have illustrated through the three case studies, how these oﬀ-
grid solar technologies have emerged in urban contexts varies considerably. The geogra-
phy of oﬀ-grid electrical distribution in urban spaces has been shaped by diﬀerent local
political economies that have included speculative capital investment in ﬁntech solar pro-
ducts (Gulu), southern African migration dynamics (Mzuzu) and aid programs
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 17
(Luganville). Through the changing energy geographies of these “ordinary cities”we can
observe a paradigmatic shift in how electricity is being provisioned, what was exclusively
a state concern is increasingly being left to formal and informal markets. Given the vag-
aries of speculative capital, the ubiquity of unaﬃliated solar products, and the tendency
for markets in the Global South to be poorly regulated, this turn to oﬀ-grid solar products
has numerous implications in terms of who gets access. Indeed, the increasing focus on
marketized dissemination models has meant that oﬀ-grid solar products, initially
designed for rural populations, are gravitating towards urban consumers, as the latter
have relatively higher incomes and are more accessible.
Overall, these trends in oﬀ-grid electrical urbanism have meant that the energyscapes
of cities in the Global South are becoming increasingly complicated. There are messy
conﬁgurations of network and post network electrical infrastructures that are shaped
by a variety of actors, knowledges, ideologies, and institutions (Jaglin, 2014). They demon-
strate an encounter between the “ideals of modernity and orderly growth and the actual
city that produces urban energy landscapes and resists any attempts to control it”(Castán
Broto, 2019:76–77). The forms of Global South oﬀ-grid urbanism presented in this article
—and indeed across ordinary cities in the Global South—have ultimately emerged as a
response to the limits of network electrical infrastructures in ordinary cities. Yet it is
not a panacea, and indeed—given neoliberal inﬂuences in the sector—it has tended to
reproduce existing or yield new dislocations. As such, understanding the (oﬀ-grid) ener-
gyscapes of ordinary cities is necessary to develop a more nuanced understanding of how
(in)justices are entangled in post-network urban responses.
1. For example, the term “customer”is used more than 200 times to reference to Global South
energy users in the most recent GOGLA (2020) report. The terms “citizen,”“resident,”or
“energy poor”are never used.
13. GOGLA (2019) has documented the sale of 73,864 oﬀ-grid solar products in Vanuatu from
January 2017 to June 2019 (a 2.5 period). This number is particularly impressive considering
that the 2016 mini census estimate that there were only 55,527 household in Vanuatu
16. The 2016 Vanuatu mini census estimated that there are 55,527 household in Vanuatu
18 P. MUNRO
Notes on Contributors
Paul Munro is an associate professor in human geography within the Environment and Society
Group at the University of New South Wales in Sydney Australia.
Shanil Samarakoon is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New South Wales in Sydney
Australia. He has 15 years of experience working on projects relating to energy, cooperatives and
agroecology across Malawi and Sri Lanka. His recently completed his PhD which focused on issues
of energy justice in Malawi's oﬀ-grid solar market, while his broader research interests include
issues relating to energy poverty, energy transitions and energy justice in Sub-Saharan African
Paul Munro http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3768-0006
Shanil Samarakoon https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9492-0224
ADB (Asian Development Bank), Luganville Grid-Connected Solar Power Trial, Project Brief
(Manila: ADB, 2019).
M. Akrich, “The De-Scription of Technical Objects,”in W. Bijker and J. Law, eds., Shaping
Technology/Building Society (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992) 205–224.
S. Aiyar, “East Africa and its South Asian Diasporas,”in R. Hedgeand and A. Sahoo, eds., Routledge
Handbook of the Indian Diaspora (London: Routledge, 2017)62–74.
A. Amin and S. Graham, “The Ordinary City,”Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers
22: 4 (1997) 411–429.
I. Baptista, “‘We Live on Estimates’: Everyday Practices of Prepaid Electricity and the Urban
Condition in Maputo, Mozambique,”International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
39: 5 (2015) 1004–1019.
J. Barrie and H. Cruickshank, “Shedding Light on the Last Mile: A Study on the Diﬀusion
of Pay As You Go Solar Home Systems in Central East Africa,”Energy Policy 107 (2017)
M. Barry and A. Creti, “Pay-As-You-Go Contracts for Electricity Access: Bridging the “Last Mile”
Gap? A Case Study in Benin,”Energy Economics 90 (2020) 104843. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.
eneco.2020.104843 Accessed August 20, 2020.
D. Bell and M. Jayne, “Small Cities? Towards a Research Agenda,”International Journal of Urban
and Regional Research 33: 3 (2009) 683–699.
G. Bensch, M. Grimm, M. Huppertz, J. Langbein and J. Peters, “Are Promotion Programs Needed
to Establish Oﬀ-Grid Solar Energy Markets? Evidence from Rural Burkina Faso,”Renewable
and Sustainable Energy Reviews 90 (2018)1060–1068.
P. L. Bhamidipati, U. E. Hansen and J. Haselip, “Agency in Transition: The Role of Transnational
Actors in the Development of the Oﬀ-Grid Solar PV Regime in Uganda,”Environmental
Innovation and Societal Transitions 33 (2019)30–44.
A. Branch, “Gulu in War …and Peace? The Town as Camp in Northern Uganda,”Urban Studies
50: 15 (2013) 3152–3167.
K. Büscher, S. Komujuni and I. Ashaba, “Humanitarian Urbanism in a Post-conﬂict Aid Town:
Aid Agencies and Urbanization in Gulu, Northern Uganda,”Journal of Eastern African
Studies 12: 2 (2018) 348–366.
J. Bryson, R. Kalafsky and V. Vanchan, “Ordinary Cities, Extraordinary Geographies: Parallax
Dimensions, Interpolations and the Scale Question,”in J. Bryson, R. Kalafsky and
V. Vanchan, eds., Ordinary Cities, Extraordinary Geographies.People, Place and Space
(London: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2021a)1–22
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 19
J. Bryson, V.: Vanchan and R. Kalafsky, “Reframing Urban Theory: Smaller Towns and Cities,
Forms of Life, Embedded Plasticity and Variegated Urbanism,”in J. Bryson, R. Kalafsky and
V. Vanchan, eds., Ordinary Cities, Extraordinary Geographies.People, Place and Space
(London: Edward Elgar Publishing 2021b) 212–235.
V. Castán Broto, “Energy Sovereignty and Development Planning: the Case of Maputo,
Mozambique,”International Development Planning Review 39: 3 (2017) 229–248.
V. Castán Broto, Urban Energy Landscapes (Cambridge University Press, 2019).
V. Castán Broto “Climate Change Politics and the Urban Contexts of Messy Governmentalities,”
Territory,: Politics, Governance 8: 2 (2020): 241–258.
F. Caprotti, J. de Groot, K. Bobbins, N. Mathebula, C. Butler, and M. Moorlach, “Rethinking the
Oﬀ-Grid City,”Urban Geography (2022).
A. Choplin and O. Pliez, “The Inconspicuous Spaces of Globalization,”Articulo-Journal of Urban
Research 12 (2015). https://doi.org/10.4000/articulo.2905 Accessed August 20, 2020.
J. Cross, “The 100th Object: Solar lighting Technology and Humanitarian Goods,”Journal of
Material Culture 18: 4 (2013) 367–387.
J. Cross, “The Solar Good: Energy Ethics in Poor Markets,”Journal of the Royal Anthropological
Institute 25: S1 (2019)47–66.
J. Cross and T. Neumark, “Solar Power and its Discontents: Critiquing Oﬀ-grid Infrastructures of
Inclusion in East Africa,”Development and Change 52: 4 (2021) 906–926.
R. De Bercegol and J. Monstadt, “The Kenya Slum Electriﬁcation Program. Local Politics of
Electricity Networks in Kibera,”Energy Research and Social Science 41 (2018): 249–258.
F. De Boeck, A. Cassiman, and S. Van Wolputte, “Recentering the City: An Anthropology of
Secondary Cities in Africa,”in K. Bakker, ed., Proceedings of African Perspectives 2009 The
African Inner City Conference (Pretoria: University of Pretoria, 2010)33–42.
DoE (Department of Energy), Environmental Code of Practice for Solar Home Systems and Solar
Micro-Grid Systems (Used Battery Disposal, Health and Safety and Land Permission) For
Vanuatu Rural Electriﬁcation Project, Vanuatu (Port Vila: DoE, Vanuatu, 2017a).
DoE (Department of Energy), Vanuatu Rural Electriﬁcation Program (VREP): Half Price Subsidies
for “Plug and Play”Solar Home Systems, Product Catalogue.: Issue 3 (Port Vila: DoE, Vanuatu,
DoE (Department of Energy), Vanuatu Rural Electriﬁcation Program (VREP). Presentation. (Port
Vila: DoE, Vanuatu, 2019).
J. Doherty, “Life (and Limb) in The Fast-Lane: Disposable People as Infrastructure in Kampala’s
Boda Industry,”Critical African Studies 9: 2 (2017) 192–209.
M. Dornan, “Access to Electricity in Small Island Developing States of the Paciﬁc: Issues and
Challenges,”Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 31 (2014) 726–735
H. Englund, “Ethnography After Globalism: Migration and Emplacement in Malawi,”American
Ethnologist 29: 2 (2002) 261–286.
K. Furlong, “STS Beyond the “Modern Infrastructure Ideal:”Extending Theory by Engaging with
Infrastructure Challenges in the South,”Technology in Society 38 (2014): 139–147.
D. A. Ghanem, “Energy, the City and Everyday Life: Living with Power Outages in Post-War
Lebanon,”Energy Research and Social Science 36 (2018): 36–43.
GOGLA (Global Oﬀ-Grid Lighting Association), Solar Market Report Semi-Annual Sales and
Impact Data January –June (Utrecht: GOGLA, 2018).
GOGLA (Global Oﬀ-Grid Lighting Association), Solar Market Report Semi Annual Sales and
Impact Data January –June 2019 (Utrecht: GOGLA, 2019).
GOGLA (Global Oﬀ-Grid Lighting Association), Oﬀ-Grid Solar: Market Trends Report 2020
(Utrecht: GOGLA, 2020).
C. Gore, “Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid,”in D. McDonald, ed.,
Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid (London: Earthscan, 2009) 359–399.
C. Gore,: Electricity in Africa: The Politics of Transformation in Uganda.: African Issues series.
(Suﬀolk: James Currey, 2017).
20 P. MUNRO
GoM (Government of Malawi), Malawi Renewable Energy Strategy (Lilongwe: GoM, 2017)https://
tory-tools/61-malawi-renewable-energy-strategy Accessed on April 18, 2019.
GoV (Government of Vanuatu),: Updated Vanuatu National Energy Road Map 2016-2030 (Port
Vila: GoV, 2016).
M. Grimm and J. Peters, “Solar Oﬀ-Grid Markets in Africa. Recent Dynamics and the Role of
Branded Products,”Field Actions Science Reports. The Journal of Field Actions 15 (2016):
P. K. Guma, “Incompleteness of Urban Infrastructures In Transition: Scenarios From the Mobile
Age in Nairobi,”Social Studies of Science 50: 5 (2020) 728–750.
M. Hodson and S. Marvin, “Can Cities Shape Socio-Technical Transition and How Would We
Know if They Were?”in H. Bulkeley, V. Castán Broto, M. Hodson and S. Marvin, eds., Cities
and Low Carbon Transitions (London: Routledge, 2011)54–70.
IEA (International Energy Agency), World Energy Outlook 2019 (Paris: IEA, 2020).
IFRC (The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), Emergency Plan of
Action Final Report Vanuatu: Ambae Volcanic Eruption 2018 (Geneva: IFRC, 2019).
A. Jacobson, “Connective Power: Solar Electriﬁcation and Social Change in Kenya,”World
Development 35: 1 (2007) 144–162.
V. Jacome, N. Klugman, C. Wolfram, B. Grunfeld, D. Callaway and I. Ray, “Power Quality and
Modern Energy for All,”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 116: 33 (2019)
S. Jaglin, “Regulating Service Delivery in Southern Cities: Rethinking Urban Heterogeneity,”in S.
Parnell and S. Oldﬁeld, eds., The Routledge Handbook on Cities of the Global South (London:
Routledge, 2014) 434–447.
S. Jaglin, “Is the Network Challenged by the Pragmatic Turn in African Cities? Urban Transition
and Hybrid Delivery Conﬁgurations.”in O.: Coutard and J. Rutherford, eds., Beyond the
Networked City: Infrastructure Reconﬁgurations and Urban Change in the North and South
(London: Routledge, 2015) 200–221.
S. Jaglin, “Electricity Autonomy and Power Grids in Africa: From Rural Experiments to Urban
Hybridizations,”in F. Lopez, M. Pellegrino and O. Coutard, eds., Local Energy Autonomy:
Spaces, Scales, Politics (London: Wiley, 2019) 291–310.
M. Jain, R.: Gravesteijn, A. Jacobson, E. Gamble and N. Scarrone, Digital Finance for Energy Access
in Uganda: Putting Mobile Money Big Data Analytics to Work (United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development, 2019).
JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency),: Data Collection Survey on Power Sector in
Espiritu Santo in Republic of Vanuatu Final Report (Tokyo: JICA, 2017).
D. Kelly, A. Doering, R. Ford, C. Gabriel and S. Walton, Independent Completion Report Lighting
Vanuatu (Canberra: DFAT Australian Aid, 2014).
Koechlin L and T Förster, “Secondary Cities and the Formation of Political Space in West and East
Africa,”in I. Pardo and G. Prato eds., The Palgrave Handbook of Urban Ethnography (Palgrave
MacMillan, 2018) 351–368.
M. Kooy and K. Bakker, “Splintered Networks: The Colonial and Contemporary Waters of
Jakarta,”Geoforum 39: 6 (2008) 1843–1858.
M. Lawhon, H. Ernstson and J. Silver, “Provincializing Urban Political Ecology: Towards a
Situated UPE Through African Urbanism,”Antipode 46: 2 (2014): 497–516.
M. Lawhon, D. Nilsson, J. Silver, H. Ernstson and S. Lwasa, “Thinking Through Heterogeneous
Infrastructure Conﬁgurations,”Urban Studies 55: 4 (2018) 720–732.
M. Lawhon and Y. Truelove “Disambiguating the Southern Urban Critique: Propositions,:
Pathways and Possibilities for a More Global Urban Studies,”Urban Studies 57: 1 (2020)3–20.
H. Mainet and S. Racaud. “Secondary Towns in Globalization: Lessons from East Africa,”Articulo-
Journal of Urban Research 12 (2015). https://doi.org/10.4000/articulo.2880 Accessed August 20,
T. Massin, “Small Cities/Transitional Cities,”in A. Orum, ed., The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of
Urban and Regional Studies (London: Wiley, 2019): 1–6.
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 21
J. Monstadt and S. Schramm, “Toward the Networked City? Translating Technological Ideals and
Planning Models in Water and Sanitation Systems in Dar es Salaam,”International Journal of
Urban and Regional Research 41: 1 (2017) 104–125
P. Munro, “On, Oﬀ, Below and Beyond The Urban Electrical Grid: The Energy Bricoleurs Of Gulu
Town,”Urban Geography 41: 3 (2020) 428–447.
P. Munro,: “Energy Political Ecologies in the South Paciﬁc: The Politics of Energy Transitions in
Vanuatu,”Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society 14: 2 (2021) 361–378.
P. Munro and A. Bartlett, “Energy Bricolage in Northern Uganda: Rethinking Energy Geographies
in Sub-Saharan Africa,”Energy Research and Social Science 55 (2019)71–81.
P. Munro and A. Schiﬀer, “Ethnographies of Electricity Scarcity: Mobile Phone Charging
Spaces and the Recrafting of Energy Poverty In Africa,”Energy and Buildings 188 (2019):
P. Munro and G. van der Horst, “Breaks with the Past: Conﬂict, Displacement, Resettlement and the
Evolution of Forest Socio-Ecologies in Sierra Leone,”in J. Lahai and T. Lyons, eds., African
Frontiers: Insurgency, Governance and Peacebuilding in Postcolonial States (London: Ashgate,
P. Munro, G. van der Horst, S. Willans, P. Kemeny, A. Christiansen, and N. Schiavone, “Social
Enterprise Development and Renewable Energy Dissemination in Africa: The Experience of
the Community Charging Station Model in Sierra Leone,”Progress in Development Studies
16: 1 (2016)24–38.
P. Munro, S. Samarakoon and G. van der Horst “African Energy Poverty: A Moving Target,”
Environmental Research Letters 15 (2020) 104059. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/abaf1a
Accessed August 20, 2020.
NSO (National Statistics Oﬃce), “2018 Malawi Population and Housing: Census Main Report”
(Lilongwe: NSO, May 2019)http://www.nsomalawi.mw/images/stories/data_on_line/demogra
%20Report.pdfAccessed August 16, 2020.
Nyasa Times (2020a), “HRDC Exposes Escom Corruption on Matters,”https://www.nyasatimes.com/
hrdc-exposes-escom-corruption-on-meters-acb-moves-in-to-investigate/ AccessedAugust 18, 2020.
Nyasa Times (2020b), “Malawi Govt Split ESCOM Again to Form Power Market Limited,”https://
August 18, 2020.
D. Ockwell, J. Atela, K. Mbeva, V. Chengo, R. Byrne, R. Durrant, V. Kasprowic, and A. Ely “Can
Pay-As-You-Go,: Digitally Enabled Business Models Support Sustainability Transformations In
Developing Countries? Outstanding Questions and a Theoretical Basis for Future Research,”
Sustainability 11: 7 (2019): https://doi.org/10.3390/su11072105 Accessed August 20, 2020.
K. Peters, “Partnerships are Important for the Success of the Oﬀ-Grid Solar Industry,”Global Oﬀ-
Grid Lighting Association,February 28 2020a:https://www.gogla.org/about-us/blogs/partne
rships-are-important-for-the-success-of-the-oﬀ-grid-solar-industry Accessed August 5, 2020.
K. Peters, “Oﬀ-Grid Solar Is Entering a New Era of Growth: GOGLA’sOﬀ-Grid Solar Forum
Explores Why,”Next Billion,January 29, 2020b:https://nextbillion.net/gogla-oﬀ-grid-solar-
forum-2020/ Accessed August 5, 2020.
F. Pilo, “Negotiating Networked Infrastructural Inequalities: Governance, Electricity Access, and
Space in Rio De Janeiro,”Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space: 39: 2 (2021) 265–281.
F. Pilo and R. Jaﬀe,: “Introduction: The Political Materiality of Cities”City and Society 32: 1
A. Polack, Drivers and Barriers Of Renewable Energy in the Electriﬁcation Of Vanuatu, MSc Thesis
(Perth: Murdoch University, 2010).
S. Racaud. “Chasing a Pair of Chinese Sandals: Markets and Trade Routes in Cameroon,”Articulo-
Journal of Urban Research 12 (2015). https://doi.org/10.4000/articulo.2899 Accessed August 20,
M. Rateau and S. Jaglin “Co-Production of Access and Hybridisation of Conﬁgurations: A Socio-
Technical Approach to Urban Electricity in Cotonou and Ibadan,”International Journal of
22 P. MUNRO
Urban Sustainable Development (2020) early online: https://doi.org/10.1080/19463138.2020.
1780241 Accessed August 20, 2020.
RNZ (Radio New Zealand),: “Not Enough Schools to Accommodate Relocated Ambae Children,”
Radio New Zealand,28 August, 2018:https://www.rnz.co.nz/international/paciﬁc-news/36444
8/not-enough-schools-to-accommodate-relocated-ambae-children Accessed August 7, 2020.
E. Robin and V. Castán Broto. “Towards a Postcolonial Perspective on Climate Urbanism,”
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 45: 5 (2021) 869–878.
J. Robinson, “Global and World Cities: A View From Oﬀthe Map,”International Journal of Urban
and Regional Research 26 (2002) 531–554.
J. Robinson, Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development (London: Routledge, 2006).
P. Rolﬀs, D. Ockwell and R. Byrne, “Beyond Technology and Finance: Pay-As-You-Go Sustainable
Energy Access and Theories of Social Change,”Environment and Planning A 47 (2015): 26–27.
S. Samarakoon, “The Troubled Path to Ending Darkness: Energy Injustice Encounters in Malawi’s
Oﬀ-Grid Solar Market,”Energy Research and Social Science 69 (2020) 101712. https://doi.org/
10.1016/j.erss.2020.101712 Accessed August 20 , 2020.
S. Samarakoon, A. Bartlett and P. Munro, “Somewhat Original: Energy Ethics in Malawi’sOﬀ-Grid
Solar Market,”Environmental Sociology 7: 3 (2020) 361–378.
S. Samarakoon, A. Bartlett and P. Munro, “Somewhat original: energy ethics in Malawi’soﬀ-grid
solar market,”Environmental Sociology 7: 3 (2021) 164–175.
J. Silver, “Incremental Infrastructures: Material Improvisation and Social Collaboration Across
Post-Colonial Accra,”Urban Geography 35: 6 (2014) 788–804.
J. Silver, “Disrupted Infrastructures: An Urban Political Ecology of Interrupted Electricity in
Accra,”International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39: 5 (2015) 984–1003.
A. Simone, “People as Infrastructure: Intersecting Fragments in Johannesburg,”Public Culture 16:
A. Simone, “Urban Circulation and the Everyday Politics of African Urban Youth: The Case Of
Douala, Cameroon,”International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 29: 3 (2005)516–532.
A. Simone, “Cities of Uncertainty: Jakarta, The Urban Majority, and Inventive Political
Technologies,”Theory, Culture and Society 30: 7 (2013): 243–263.
S. Smith, “Hybrid Networks, Everyday Life and Social Control: Electricity Access in Urban Kenya,”
Urban Studies 56: 6 (2019) 1250–1266.
SunFunder, “New $4 million Investment in Yellow in Malawi”[Online], https://www.sunfunder.
com/post/yellow-malawi Accessed October 12, 2021.
L. S. To, A. Bruce, P. Munro, E. Santagata, I. MacGill, M. Rawali and A. Raturi, “A Research and
Innovation Agenda For Energy Resilience in Paciﬁc Island Countries and Territories,”Nature
Energy 6(2021): 1098–1103.
UBOS (Uganda Bureau of Statistics),: Uganda Bureau of Statistics, National Population and
Housing Census 2014–Main report (Kampala: UBOS, 2016).
USAID, Southern Africa Energy Program (SAEP): Market Entry Information Pack,January 2019.
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), Paciﬁc Energy Programme Mission Report:
Vanuatu (New York: UNDP, 1982).
UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), NAMA Study Rural Electriﬁcation in Vanuatu
(New York: UNDP, 2014).
UN Habitat, Malawi: Mzuzu Urban Proﬁle (UN Habitat: Nairobi, 2011).
URA (Utilities Regulatory Authority), Electricity Fact Sheet 2012–2017 (Port Vila: URA December
VNSO (Vanuatu National Statistics Oﬃce), 2009 National Population and Housing Census.: Basic
Tables Report Volume 1 (Port Vila: VNSO, 2009)
VNSO (Vanuatu National Statistics Oﬃce), 2016 Post-TC Pam Mini-Census Report (Port Vila:
S. Walton and R. Ford, “Easy or Arduous? Practices, Perceptions and Networks Driving Lighting
Transitions from Kerosene to Solar in Vanuatu,”Energy Research and Social Science 65 (2020):
JOURNAL OF URBAN TECHNOLOGY 23
L. Watt, “Fijian Infrastructural Citizenship: Spaces of Electricity Sharing and Informal Power
Grids in an Informal Settlement,”Cogent Social Sciences 6: 1 (2020) 1719568. https://doi.org/
10.1080/23311886.2020.1719568 Accessed August 20, 2020.
M.-H. Zérah and E. Denis, “Introduction: Reclaiming Small Towns”in E. Denis and M.-H. Zérah,
eds., Subaltern Urbanisation in India: An Introduction to the Dynamics of Ordinary Towns
24 P. MUNRO