Energy Academy
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Powering the city in the Global South: Increasing energy access for all in a context of urbanisation and changing urban governance

Heriot Watt is contributing to the Applied Research Programme on Energy and Economic Growth (EEG) as a result of the work of the Energy Academy. This is led by Oxford Policy Management in partnership with the Center for Effective Global Action and the Energy Institute @ Haas at the University of California, Berkeley. The programme is funded by the UK Government, through UK Aid. Over the course of five years, EEG will commission rigorous research exploring the links between energy economic growth, and poverty reduction in low-income countries. This evidence will be specifically geared to meet the needs of decision makers and enable the development of large-scale energy systems that support sustainable, inclusive growth in low income countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Phase 1 of the Programme, OPM commissioned 18 State of Knowledge Papers address gaps in knowledge and data in six critical themes related to energy and economic growth: the links between electricity supply and growth, finance and governance aspects, large scale renewables, sustainable urbanization and energy efficiency, the role of extractives, and design of energy systems.

Harry Smith and Fionn MacKillop, School of Energy Geosciences Infrastructure and Society supported by Marco Lorusso, Centre for Energy Economics Research and Policy were selected to write one of the eighteen papers. Their subject was to address the role of governance of urban areas in shaping energy use in low-income countries (LICs) and middle-income countries (MICs). Focusing on the urban context, it looked at how the poorest and disadvantaged access energy.

"Urban dwellers in LICs and MICs often access electricity through irregular, patchy and informal connections which are frequently considered illegal. This situation is closely linked to how urban areas develop in LICs and MICs, often with weak urban governance and little control, resulting in what is termed‘informal settlements’ and slums. Studies of urban infrastructure in LICs and MICs have tended to concentrate on water and sanitation networks, with comparatively very limited attention being paid to access to electricity. The paper which can be read in full here reviews the literature that exists on access to electricity in urban areas in the Global South, and draws on experiences in other urban infrastructures that may provide lessons towards improving such access for the poorest and disadvantaged.

For more information on the work of this group contact and to learn about working with CEERP, please contact


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