An estimated one-half of violent conflicts that have occurred on the African continent since the mid-1990s have been related to natural resources and energy. This is the so-called ?resource curse? or the ?paradox of plenty? - the idea that natural resource wealth can lead to the outbreak of armed conflict instead of economic development. Now that green, renewable energy projects are increasing substantially across Africa to meet energy needs and combat climate change, how can we prevent a resource curse from occurring in the emerging renewable energy sectors in African countries? Answering this question is an urgent task, given that within the coming decades nearly half of power production in Africa will come from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, and biofuels. This project examines the conditions under which a ?green curse? could emerge in African countries, wherein renewable energy projects and investments trigger violent conflicts. This far in the project we have collected a dataset of renewable energy project in five East Africa countries, we have started the qualitative data collection in Uganda by interviewing various stakeholders related to establishing renewable energy projects. Finally, we have established a blog series related to the project, where we currently have 13 post.
Africa is seeing a rise in the production and use of renewable energy from hydro, solar, and wind power as well as from biomass resources. Yet the continent’s track record in natural resource, energy, and environmental management is poor, with many African countries rich in natural resources having paradoxically suffered from the “resource curse”. Instead of being blessed, resource wealth has instead cursed many Africa countries by bringing about violent conflict, autocratic rule, and entrenched poverty. The enormous increase in renewable energy in Africa in recent years, and the projections for these sectors’ continued growth in the near future as part of poverty alleviation strategies, has not been accompanied by a parallel increase in research on the consequences of this energy revolution. The development of renewable energy projects and sectors pose a set of unique challenges for African states that have not been adequately explored in research, mostly urgently the potential for these sectors and the mineral value chains that support them to trigger violent conflict. We therefore proposed a mixed-method, interdisciplinary project to improve knowledge about 1) the state of renewable energy in Africa; 2) the pathways by which renewable energy conflicts occur; and 3) the types of mechanisms required to prevent and resolve them. We will provide the first cross-continent mapping of knowledge and data on renewable energy sectors and mineral value chains, and of relevant legal and voluntary governance initiatives regulating these sectors. We will generate evidence-based policy recommendations about how to avoid and prevent renewable energy conflicts through a systematic, cross-country analysis of existing evidence as well as through in-depth study of “green curse” dynamics in Uganda. The project will identify paths to violent conflict useful for actors in renewable energy sectors, and propose new violence-preventing institutional solutions in these sectors.