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Jude T. Nuru, Ph.D., is a 2020 graduate of the Ph.D. Program in Environmental Studies at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Jason L. Rhoades, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • James S. Gruber, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Benjamin K. Sovacool, Ph.D., Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

2020

Abstract

Researchers, policy makers, and development partners are increasingly concerned about the challenges of climate change and lack of energy access facing countries in sub-Saharan Africa. While the majority of people in sub-Saharan African countries lack livelihood diversification skills and are vulnerable to climate change, energy poverty is also widespread, particularly in the rural areas where it is difficult and expensive to extend grid electricity. In the face of these two challenges, it has been envisaged that since sub-Saharan Africa is endowed with variety of renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, and biomass, their deployment could help address both climate change and energy access in the region. While the deployment of renewable energy could offer benefits for rural populations in the region, barriers to their deployment are inevitable. There has been limited research on co-benefits and barriers to renewable energy deployment in sub-Saharan Africa. This dissertation combines climate compatible development and social construction of technology theoretical frameworks as the analytical framework alongside mixed methods including surveys, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, and direct observations to identify the benefits and barriers to the deployment of solar mini grids in Ghanaian rural island communities. The island communities were created in 1965 as a result of the construction of Ghana’s largest hydro-electric dam and they have remained so until 2015 when the World Bank Group funded the provision of solar mini grids in five communities. Major benefits that emerged include adaptation benefits such as creation of jobs and business opportunities; mitigation benefits such as replacement of kerosene use and reduction in deforestation; and development benefits such as improvement in healthcare delivery and school performance. Key barriers identified include infrastructural, socio-cultural, and technical barriers. Based on the findings, the study concluded that solar mini grids could address both climate change and energy access in the region and as such, more resources should be channeled towards their deployment, while steps are also taken to address both the technical and socio-cultural barriers. Given that the Ghanaian islands share many similarities with other sub-Saharan African rural contexts, the results are transferable to other rural areas in the region.

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Jude T. Nuru

ORCID Scholar ID# 0000-0002-0285-0987

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