The Energy Politics of South Africa

Baker, Lucy; Burton, Jesse and Trollip, Hilton (2020). The Energy Politics of South Africa. In: Hancock, Kathleen J. and Allison, Juliann Emmons eds. The Oxford Handbook of Energy Politics. Oxford Handbooks. Oxford University Press, pp. 711–729.



This chapter explores key processes within South Africa’s electricity sector that evolved under the presidency of Jacob Zuma from his inauguration in 2009 until he was forced out of office in early 2018. These processes include the introduction of a national planning process for electricity; the implementation of a procurement program for privately generated renewable electricity; and a highly controversial nuclear procurement program, since scrapped following Zuma’s departure. The chapter’s exploration takes place within the context of a decade of “state capture” and corruption. Drawing from a wide range of literature on South Africa’s energy policy, it advances perspectives of the “minerals-energy complex” (Fine and Rustomjee 1996), which has been a dominant framework for the analysis of the country’s political economy and its electricity sector. The chapter concludes with a research agenda that brings together the literature on sociotechnical transitions with that of analyses of the nature of the state.

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