Kweku Koranteng, PhD candidate at the CST, recently represented us at an international conference in Accra, Ghana which took place from 19 – 20 June 2017. He is a member of the RE4T research group, and presented his paper titled “Transition Management in Energy Transition among Informal Settlements in Ghana and South Africa”.

The International Research Conference was jointly hosted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana and University College London – Energy Institute. The theme was “Strategies for sustainable energy transitions in Urban Sub-Saharan Africa” and the conference is part of a project called “Supporting Sub-Saharan African Municipalities with Sustainable Energy Transitions” (SAMSET) funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC) and the Engineering & Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC).

The paper explores Transition Management (TM) in energy transition in an informal settlement in Ghana and South Africa, adopting a Transdisciplinary (TD) research approach as a sustainable research process and a response to TM criticism. This is also complemented with the case studies of energy transition in two contextually distinct and mutually re-enforcing cases of technocentric innovation on one hand to social innovation and learning on the other, departing from the longstanding techno-centric lead innovation paradigm, which is the prevailing and predominant norm to social co-design, learning and innovation as emerging norm. This shift, however, requires a re-thinking of how social systems are envisaged or perceived, since established research, modeled on singular, multi or inter-disciplines have not been able to address the persistent challenging plaguing our modern societies. This paper offers a practical solution on how TM complemented with TD should be envisioned and made relevant especially within developing countries’ context. The paper proposes a radical shift from the highly patronized, paternalist, elitist outlook on how research is done in the global south, to a more intentionally embedded process of inquiry, one that places social actors at the center, diffuses power dynamics and engenders social empowerment as its hallmark. To view the presentation, please click here.