Ideology Matters: Political machinations, modernism, and myopia in Rwanda’s electricity boom

Barnaby Dye

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Africa is experiencing a boom in electricity infrastructure, particularly in energy generation. However, this trend is under-researched and deserves greater attention as to why and how it is happening. This article builds understandings of this trend theoretically and empirically. It asserts the relevance of ideology as an analytical lens that helps uncover the rationales behind justifications and policymaking processes in nationwide power-generation policies. The article asserts a particular approach to analysing ideology that allows for complex, nuanced explanations that combine ideational, path dependent and strategic factors. The article uses a case study of Rwanda to demonstrate the importance of this approach. This country is exemplary of the power boom, having undertaken a ten-fold increase in installed megawatt generation that is ambitious and yet somewhat shortsighted. The article details the policies involved in this notable trajectory, using the ideology of high modernism to explain why such policies were pursued and why politicians and planners overlooked their negative consequences.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnergy Research & Social Science
Early online date22 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Energy
  • Global inequalities
  • Policy@Manchester
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Global Development Institute


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