A Focus Issue on Energy Transformations in Africa

Those of you who know me, know that I care deeply about amplifying the voices of fellow young southern scholars. So as soon as I was invited to sit on the founding editorial board of my first academic journal, Environmental Research: Infrastructure and Sustainability from the powerhouse IOP Publishing, I set out to create a focus issue on Energy Transformation in Africa, that would create a completely free platform for scholars to publish their work and have their voices heard. The overflow of submissions received shows what a need there is for spaces like this.
Each of the papers went through rigorous double-blind peer-review, and the final collection that came through on the other end was well worth the wait. Almost every paper is a direct response to the now clear message of need for home-grown, country-level analyses and tools in designing energy pathways. Interestingly, the running theme throughout was addressing the high costs of delivering clean energy transformation to a continent starting with such a low base of energy users and with such limited affordability. Each paper draws out how the solutions to delivering low-cost, high-quality energy service lie in leveraging direct linkages across key sectors also undergoing major transformation, like agriculture.
In the Special Issue there are unique perspectives on methods for more inclusive pricing, for higher resolution subsidy allocation, or for more productive business modelling, and even deeply thoughtful pieces that unpack the very meaning of “Just Transitions” for Africa. There is lots more work to do to deepen and widen our base of scholars and critical thinkers, but this simple collection of papers is a small and important proof that the capacity is here. It deserves to be supported, resourced, and grown.
Putting this focus issue together was a long labor of love. What made it extra special was that some of my former students and researchers made the effort to prepare their work, submit to the journal, push through peer-review, and now have publications to their names that will serve them well as budding scholars! This shows me that every quiet encouragement we give to each other in the classroom, in the hallway, or at the study table, plants a seed.
The Issue is officially launched! We hosted a webinar this past Monday to hear directly from these brilliant issue authors. We talked specifically about their work and perspectives on building Africa’s clean energy future. Have a watch of the recording here and read my short synopsis of the entire Special Issue here.