Productive uses of energy: The informal food sector in South Africa, Rwanda and Senegal: Scoping study report – 2015

Hans Bressers, Nthabiseng Mohlakoana, Margaret Matinga, Jiska de Groot, Bothwell Batidzirai, Abigail Knox, Yacine Diagne Gueye, Secou Sarr, Robert J. van der Plas

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This report represents the Scoping Phase (Phase 1) of RA2 – Productive uses of Energy, of the Gender and Energy Research Programme, which applies a gender perspective to explore: (i) the energy sources used by micro and small enterprises in the informal food sector; (ii) the changes that may be brought by use of modern energy services (MESs) both within the enterprise itself and at household level; and (iii) how energy changes in enterprises influence economic and social empowerment of both men and women.
Phase 1 of this research employed a mixed methods approach in Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, involving: 1) a literature review covering energy, the informal food sector, gender, and relevant policies; 2) a questionnaire survey of enterprises in the informal food sector; and 3) in-depth interviews with enterprise owners or employees. The key findings of Phase 1 include:

- The literature review, which explored the energy and gender dimension of entrepreneurs in the informal food sector in the study sites and beyond, finding that despite the relatively high number of studies on the informal food sector and particularly on street there is hardly discussion on gendered energy use. In addition, survivalist versus growth-oriented approaches were identified as important concepts for exploring the informal food sector, entrepreneurship and empowerment.
- The questionnaire survey and in-depth interviews, which explored a range of questions regarding enterprises, their production, energy use, and empowerment, established that informal enterprises depend on a wide range energy sources, and are faced with accessibility, and affordability issues.
- The scoping research confirms that energy use at home does contribute to the enterprise in a number of ways – such as use of appliances that were originally intended for household use only.

The final section of the report sets out the proposal for Phase 2 of the research, and incorporates lessons learnt from the Scoping Phase. Phase 2 will consist of a larger–scale survey (450–600 enterprises), combined with in-depth interviews (from 60–90)1. The data analysis framework, and to explore women’s empowerment through energy access, will employ the empowerment framework
with a focus on: economic, social, political and psychological dimensions of empowerment. To measure women’s empowerment, Phase 2 will employ objective and subjective indicators both qualitative and quantitative, to capture both internal and external transformation.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe Hague
Number of pages60
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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