Political Economy of Centemporary Electricity Development in Tanzania
Electricity expansion is advocated on environmental and humanitarian grounds and is seen as strategic for poverty-reduction in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Yet electricity infrastructure has a deep political and economic history. Moreover, electricity, which reshapes conditions of everyday life, serves as a vehicle for social and political power. I explore the intersection of energy, development, and the environment, seeking to contextualize electricity development within its broader socio-political and economic history. I probe presumptions and precarity embedded in electricity infrastructure in SSA by applying critical social theory, social science methods, and electric power monitoring. I investigate how the advent of the prepaid meter and unreliable electricity affect communities in Unguja, Tanzania, using nuanced theoretical lenses to understand infrastructure in constrained communities vis-à-vis infrastructure building within abundant political economies. My preliminary research shows that while abundant political economis, despite their advantages, were subject to the same precarity, burdens for maintaining the system were distributed differently.