Energy & Environment

Sunday, 24 July 2011 22:26

Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid

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This is a momentous time in the electricity sector in South and southern Africa. Multi-billion dollar projects are planned for the next 20 years, representing the biggest ever expenditure made in electricity on the continent. The consequences will affect the lives of millions of people. But how will this electricity be generated? What will it cost? And who, exactly, will benefit?
Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid, edited by David A McDonald and published by the HSRC Press is in its simplest description, a book about the importance of electricity in Africa. With these questions in mind, the book assesses the development of key electricity restructuring in the region thus far, including the ownership, generation, distribution and consumption of an energy source that is inextricably intertwined with power, policy and politics on the continent.

The book employs the expertise of researchers, energy professionals, academics and activists to shed light on the larger social, economic, ideological and spatial dynamics shaping electricity reforms in southern Africa and the continent. In a far-reaching spread of commentary that ranges from the use of nuclear power to the search for alternative energy sources, the gendered nature of the manufacture and distribution of electricity, the provision of free basic electricity, the building of hydro-electric dams and more, the authors probe the intricacies of the contemporary electricity sector.

On Thursday 16 October 2008, at 6.30pm, the HSRC Press and Constitution Hill Public Programmes will host a discussion in Johannesburg on aspects of this crucial issue. The panel discussion will also serve to launch the collection of essays in Gauteng.

Guest speakers will include:
* David A McDonald (editor of the volume and Co-director of the Municipal Services Project, Queens University);
* Stephen Greenberg (Research Manager at Khanya-African Institute for Community Driven Development), who will provide insights into the repositioning of Eskom in post-apartheid South Africa;
* Richard Worthington (Climate Change Programme Manager for WWF South Africa), who explores issues relating to coal and electricity in South Africa;
* Jackie Dugard (Human rights activist and senior researcher at the Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) at Wits), who provides a rights-based analysis of South Africa’s electricity services; and
* Terri Hathaway (International Rivers’ Africa Programme), who will provide insights into the privatisation of Africa’s rivers.
* Dinga Sikwebu, a former NUM researcher who has written extensively on electricity restructuring, particularly the REDs, will chair the discussion.

On Wednesday evening, 22 October 2008, the HSRC Press will host a discussion at Community House in Salt River on aspects of this crucial issue. The panel discussion will also serve to launch the collection of essays in Cape Town.

Guest speakers will include:
* David A McDonald (editor of the volume and Co-director of the Municipal Services Project, Queens University, Canada);
* Liz McDaid (a scientist, educator and member of The Green Connection), who will provide insights into harnessing the power of renewable energy in Africa;
* Greg Ruiters (Director of the Institute of Social and Economic Research at Rhodes University and Co-director of the Municipal Services Project), who will explore the issues relating to free basic electricity in South Africa;
* Wendy Annecke (an independent researcher) looks at women and gender relations in the electricity sector; and
* David Fig (Research Fellow at Southern Africa Resource Watch), who explores nuclear energy in South Africa.
Roger Ronnie, former Secretary-General of SAMWU, will chair the Cape Town discussion.

Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid highlights the need for more sustainable, democratic and equitable forms of electricity production in South and southern Africa and the continent as a whole. In a region which is the most under-supplied in the world, yet whose economies are utterly dependent on electricity, it is essential to investigate how electricity fits into the larger dynamics of capitalist accumulation and crisis in Africa.

Rigorously researched, covering a broad yet focused range of related topics, the publication makes an impressive and essential contribution to debate and action on the future of the electricity sector on the continent. Join in either of two the discussions this month.

Electric Capitalism: Recolonising Africa on the Power Grid is edited by David A McDonald and is published by the HSRC Press. McDonald is Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Global Development Studies at Queen’s University in Canada. He is also Co-Director of the Municipal Services Project.

Copies of all of HSRC Press published titles are available from leading booksellers nationally, and from the online bookshop at www.hsrcpress.ac.za.

For a review copy of the book, or to make contact with the contributors, contact:

Karen Bruns
Marketing Manager
HSRC Press

Tel: +27 21 466 8022
Fax: +27 21 461 0836
Mobile: 083 231 8326
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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