UCL Energy Institute


Supporting African Municipalities in Sustainable Energy Transitions

21 November 2013

The UCL Energy Institute is leading a £1.7 million research collaboration to facilitate the implementation of an effective sustainable energy transition in Africa's Sub-Saharan urban areas.


UCL-Energy Research Associate Xavier Lemaire is leading 'Supporting African Municipalities in Sustainable Energy Transitions' (SAMSET), which seeks to design, test, and evaluate a knowledge exchange framework to facilitate the implementation of an effective sustainable energy transition in Africa's Sub-Saharan urban areas.

The project, launched in October 2013, includes a strong action research component which involves close partnering with six cities in three African countries (Ghana, Uganda and South Africa) to foster a deeper understanding of the dynamics and constraints that policy and strategy implementation faces in Sub-Saharan African cities.

Urbanisation rates in Africa are the highest in the world and in most Sub-Saharan countries energy service delivery is inadequate to keep up with the needs. The main project objectives are to:

  • Identify the relevance, transferability and adaptation of the existing body of knowledge on sustainable energy transitions to the Sub-Saharan African urban situation
  • Understand the specific and contextual issues involved in effective implementation of policies relevant to energy transitions in the African urban context
  • Clarify how best to facilitate policy and strategy development and implementation through active engagement and support for six partner cities in three Sub-Saharan African countries to enable detailed understanding of the complex set of constraints and dynamics in these cities
  • Explore knowledge exchange methodologies via inter-city and inter-country network exchanges, specialist inputs and practical lesson exchanges
  • Develop knowledge exchange methodologies for facilitating more effective interactions between researchers and practitioners to improve implementation of policy objectives at the city level

The project, funded by Dfid, DECC and EPSRC, brings together the UCL researchers, Xavier Lemaire, Daniel Kerr and Gabrial Anandarajah with African partners Sustainable Energy Africa - an NGO that has 15 years of experience supporting cities with sustainable energy transitions, University of Ghana, Uganda Martyrs University, University of Cape Town and in the UK: Durham University and consultancy company Gamos.


The second project is a three-year research project of 0.7 million pounds named ‘Sustainable Thermal Energy Service Partnerships’ (STEPs), which seeks to develop a sustainable pro-poor public private partnership model for delivering clean and safe thermal energy services.

It is projected that more than 2.6 billion people could remain without access to modern thermal energy services in 2030. The project aims to make a significant contribution to the area of rural thermal energy services - an area of research which is underdeveloped compared to research on rural electrification services. It will develop a business model based on a fee-for service approach which could provide the poorest affordable access to modern thermal energy services for cooking, hot water and heating.

UCL-Energy Research Associate Xavier Lemaire is co-leading both projects with partners in developing countries.

Contact: x.lemaire@ucl.ac.uk

Image © Todd Huffman / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-2.0.