UrbanHIT – Urban Heterogeneity and Infrastructure Transitions


New article out now on Practicing urban resilience to electricity service disruption

Practicing urban resilience to electricity service disruption in Accra, Ghana

Electricity is essential for the functioning of contemporary cities. However, despite its overarching criticality, residents of Southern cities like Accra are challenged by splintered access and limited reliability of electricity services. To maintain access, and creatively maneuver blackout situations, residents in Southern cities employ many alternative socio-technical configurations and adaptive strategies. Using the lenses of urban resilience, vulnerability, and social practice theory, we explore the everyday energy practices of residents and businesses in different settlements across Accra, particularly in response to electricity service disruptions. Here, we interrogate electricity as an enabler of practices as well as the consequences of electricity disruption, and the technologies and adaptive strategies employed to maintain those practices. Our goal is to assess the potential for ensuring urban resilience in the face of electricity blackouts through adaptive energy access and user practices. Empirically, we employ primary data gathered from expert interviews with utility providers and local government officials, neighborhood visits, observations, interviews with urban residents and businesses, and document analyses. By examining the everyday energy practices of urban residents, we argue that we can better understand urban/critical infrastructure resilience and the alternative pathways to it. We further contend that the relationship between resilience and practices is predicated on—and necessitated by—systemic socio-economic and socio-spatial inequalities. We therefore advocate for a stronger engagement with electricity user perspectives and everyday energy practices in mainstream resilience and vulnerability discourses related to critical infrastructure disruption.

To this open access article.