Assessing African Energy Transitions: Renewable Energy Policies, Energy Justice, and SDG 7

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Assessing African Energy Transitions: Renewable Energy Policies, Energy Justice, and SDG 7


  • Franziska Müller Department of Social Sciences, University of Hamburg, Germany
  • Manuel Neumann Department of Social Sciences, University of Kassel, Germany
  • Carsten Elsner Department of Social Sciences, University of Kassel, Germany
  • Simone Claar Department of Social Sciences, University of Kassel, Germany


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Abstract:  Renewable energy has made significant inroads in addressing growing energy demands on the African continent. However, progress towards SDG 7 is still limited and difficult to trace. Furthermore, the results-oriented rationale of the SDGs means that both policy change and the dimension of environmental justice are not covered properly. We argue that the energy justice concept may provide a powerful tool to offset looming trade-offs and enhance the co-benefits of SDG 7 within broader transition endeavours. In doing so, we assess African energy transition processes based on a comparative mapping of African renewable energy policies in 34 countries. We investigate the scope of policy frameworks in order to analyse their contribution to greater energy justice along different justice dimensions. We then identify four transition scenarios, which reflect the challenges of integrating the justice dimension into renewable energy policies. In comparing these scenarios, we argue that SDG 7 tracking needs to consider the justice dimension to arrive at a more holistic implementation that is in line with socio-ecological justice and takes account of people’s energy needs.

Keywords:  Africa; energy governance; energy justice; energy transition; policy analysis; renewable energy; Sustainable Development Goals

Published:   26 February 2021


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/pag.v9i1.3615


© Franziska Müller, Simone Claar, Manuel Neumann, Carsten Elsner. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.