Transformation of the South African Energy System: Towards Participatory Governance

  • Vain D. B. Jarbandhan
  • Nadejda Komendantova
  • Romao Xavier
  • Elvis Nkoana


Background & Significance of the topic: Approximately 10% of South Africa’s population has no access to electricity. Responding to this need for affordable and sustainable energy requires solutions that are environmentally friendly and not detrimental to human health. It has been demonstrated in countries such as Germany, Denmark, Canada and Wales that public participation contributes to the social acceptance of renewable energy. This study proposes that Arnstein’s Ladder of Citizen Participation can be used to underpin the concept of stakeholder participation in emerging economies like South Africa, and that participation in renewable energy projects is dependent on leadership that is ‘ecologically’ attuned. From the onset, a renewable energy project that is geared for success must include opportunities for the public to participate in decision- making and to feel part of the success of the project. Methodology: A meta-analysis of the literature was conducted. Application/Relevance to systems analysis: This Chapter demonstrates how promoting public participation through applications such as climate modeling; assessment of impacts, vulnerability, mitigation, and adaptation options; and policy analysis can contribute to transforming a country’s energy sector. Policy and/or practice implications: This study has special relevance for policy making in the energy sector in South Africa as it assists with long term projections for good governance and transformation of the energy sector. Incorporating public participation as part of the public policy process is essential to the success of transforming South Africa’s energy system. Additionally, investing in building a cadet of environmental leaders, especially in the public sector, would mitigate environmental degradation and embrace a transition to cleaner energy. Discussion and conclusion: The need to incorporate public participation within the project cycle and institutionalise it as part of the whole process is an important success feature, along with investing in the development of environmental leadership and monitoring and evaluation initiatives.


Participatory governance - Arnstein’s Ladder Clean energy solutions Energy reform Renewable energy  


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vain D. B. Jarbandhan
    • 1
  • Nadejda Komendantova
    • 2
  • Romao Xavier
    • 3
  • Elvis Nkoana
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Public Management and GovernanceUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Risk and Resilience ProgramInternational Institute of Applied Systems AnalysisLaxenburgAustria
  3. 3.University of WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  4. 4.University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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