Decentralized electrification in contexts with widespread corruption: challenges and how to handle them
Research Project , 2019 – 2020

The purpose of the project is to investigate how corruption creates vulnerability in decentralized electricity provision in rural Tanzania, and to suggest strategies for sustainable service delivery. There is urgent need to address the current knowledge gap in how to successfully build organizations and sustain public service delivery in contexts with widespread poverty, prevalent corruption and low level of generalized trust. I pay particular attention to the role of local participation as development strategy. It is commonly argued that projects should adopt an approach of local influence and ownership in order to be successful and produce lasting outcomes. However, empirical evidence suggests that in difficult contexts, participation tends to benefit primarily local elites and increase the risk for project failure. In difficult contexts, local participation is not a sufficient strategy but needs to be combined with strong enforcement. In this two-year project, I will develop theoretical explanations for how corruption undermines the sustainability of local electricity provision, and test them in comparative study of three cases. Also, I identify possibilities to combine multiple strategies in order to enhance the short-term resilience and long-term robustness of local utilities in the face of corruption. The data collection will include a substantial number of interviews, project documentation, participatory observation and group discussions for validating findings.


Helene Ahlborg (contact)

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Environmental Systems Analysis



Project ID: FS-2019/0009
Funding Chalmers participation during 2019–2020

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