September 27, 2023
|        WORKING PAPER #
Sean Sweeney

This document is a position paper on energy poverty and energy transition developed by trade unions in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) active in the TUED South network. 

Because of its pivotal role in shaping and directing energy policy for many decades, the paper is primarily concerned with the policies of the World Bank (hereafter, the Bank). The paper explains why the Bank’s current approach to energy poverty and energy transition is not working and why it needs to change. 

The goal of the position paper is to arm the international trade union movement and its allies with the facts. These facts lay bare a policy failure of immense proportions. 

This position paper makes two broad proposals for change: 

1. The Bank must recognise that creating an “enabling environment” for the private sector, and the so-called “de-risking” of private investment, is not going to “unlock” the levels of private sector investment needed to address energy poverty in SSA or to put the region on course for low-carbon economic development. This so-called “blended finance” is simply not working. The “billions to trillions” investment scenario the Bank offered in 2015 has not transpired.

2. The Bank should pursue policies that “reclaim and restore” public energy systems as part of a public pathway approach to addressing energy poverty. The Bank should cease promoting policies that were designed to constrain, disrupt, and disable public power sector utilities. The evidence of the past three decades is clear: the current policy is making a very bad situation worse. There is a pressing need to pivot towards grant-based finance directed at public utilities. 

Download full paper here