Off-Grid Cities project hosts session at 5th National Global Change Conference

  • Date of publication: 08 March 2023

From 30 January to 3 February 2023, the 5th National Global Change Conference was held at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein. The Off-grid Cities project hosted a session entitled ‘Off-grid Cities: Considerations for sustainability and justice in South Africa’, which focused on the investments by private households, businesses and factories into alternative sources of water and electricity (e.g., water tanks, boreholes, solar panels, generators). The session probed how hybrid and off-grid infrastructure transitions can be integrated into debates on, and practices of, producing cities that are environmentally sustainable and socially just.

The session began with the following presentations

  1. Mercy Brown-Luthango (African Centre for Cities) - Informality and griddedness: Infrastructure deficits and impacts on social processes – the case of Mossel Bay
  2. Eyong Tarh (University of the Western Cape) – Social justice and the governance of solar energy
  3. Temba Middelmann (University of the Western Cape) - Hybrid infrastructure and the scales of energy transitions and climate change.
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Presenters answering questions from the audience: Mercy Brown-Luthango (Left), Eyong Tarh (Middle) and Temba Middelmann (right).

These presentations were followed by a panel discussion that engaged with the cross-cutting issues of informality across income groups, changing relationships between citizens and the state and the drivers and impacts of hybrid/ off-grid practices at different scales. This panel discussion included the following panelists:

- Fiona Anciano, University of the Western Cape

- Mercy Brown-Luthango

- Christina Culwick Fatti, Gauteng City-Region Observatory

- Charlotte Lemanski, University of Cambridge (virtual)

- Margot Rubin, University of Cardiff (virtual)

The session was well attended and stimulated vibrant engagement and discussion by the audience.

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Off-grid Cities team members at the 5th Annual Global Change Conference: Temba Middelmann, Christina Culwick Fatti, Fiona Anciano and Eyong Tarh (Left to right).


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