The Global Energy Feed-in-Tariff's influence on Uganda's energy transition
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Achieving green energy transitions in developing countries through neo liberal interventions requires trade-offs of risks that may negatively impact energy access and electricity development. The aim of this study is to conduct a critical policy analysis on one of these neo liberal interventions, the Global Energy Feed-in-Tariff (GET FiT), to examine the role and influence of the program on Uganda’s energy transition. This program was chosen because it exults the ‘niche-building’ strategies ubiquitous throughout the transition literature. However, these strategies were formulated through studies on energy transitions in developed countries, leaving gaps in the models as they pertain to the developing world. Considering the ongoing threats of climate change and the need to provide access to the currently 759 million people without electricity, understanding how to effectively conceptualize and design green interventions is key. A critical policy analysis was conducted to identify the neo liberal processes and outcomes of GET FiT. Data was gathered through qualitative semi-structured interviews, GET FiT literature, and second sources. Through qualitative analysis, this study determined that the neo liberal assumptions and design of GET FiT resulted in trade-offs of risks, which negatively impacted Uganda’s electricity development. First, GET FiT relied heavily on assumptions of growing electricity demand that did not manifest, in part, because of the raised consumer electricity tariffs, which were implemented to attract investment. Second, by ensuring that investors would yield return on their investments through guaranteed generation payments by the GoU, regardless of consumption, the sustainability of Uganda’s electricity sector is now threatened by public debt. Third, by not integrating considerations of how electricity consumer tariff prices affect energy access, the rising costs of electricity resulting, in part, from these guaranteed payments may now be limiting energy access. GET FiT’s role in Uganda’s energy transition manifested as a means for transnational actors to promote a neo liberal energy transition model, prominent in the literature, which resulted in negative outcomes. This indicates that transition models must be reconceptualized in developing country contexts for green interventions to be effective.