Developing sustainable product-service system business models for energy provision in South African urban informal settlements

Cronje, George Frederick (2020-03)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Deep socio-economic inequalities are still a reality in spite of South Africa being regarded as an upper-middle-income country. Informal settlements, in particular, reflect these inequalities. It is estimated that 10 per cent of the population live in rural or urban informal settlements. Urban informal settlements are the fastest-growing household sector in South African cities, accommodating more than 4 million people. Although these dwellers might have secured a living space in urban society, they are still excluded from city amenities and suffer tremendous hardships. Providing sustainable energy services to these communities is a complex and challenging undertaking. Blanket, national grid electrification policies are incapable of adequately serving the various types of informal settlements, each offering unique challenges. A singular inflexible technology supply response does not consider the dynamic and highly unpredictable nature of the urban informal community fraught with challenges and market barriers. To address this challenge, both governmental and non-governmental enterprises started operating in this space by providing energy through alternative means than that of the grid. Product-service system business models offer a promising solution to the market barriers existing in the informal context, due to the consideration of sustainability, multi-stakeholder collaboration and end-user desirability. This study set out to develop a tool to consider the multiple trade-offs in the urban informal context for developing a sustainable product-service system business model. A framework (manifesting as a tool) was developed using an adapted grounded theory methodology – the conceptual framework analysis technique. The usefulness of the developed tool was tested during a focus group with experts in the energy sector. Within the focus group environment, the tool successfully achieved the development of a sustainable product-service system business models by allowing the experts to visually map out the various trade-offs. Considered among the multiple trade-offs were the energy needs and desires of an informal community. The information was gathered by distributing a questionnaire to 100 participants living in an urban informal settlement. These were collected using a questionnaire administrated by three field researchers. A post-focus group evaluation survey revealed experts see much potential in the developed framework. Thus, using the framework developed in this study, new and existing energy provision enterprises can be assisted to provide sustainable energy services to the urban poor.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hoewel Suid-Afrika as ʼn boonste middel-inkomste land beskou word, is daar steeds diep sosio-ekonomiese ongelykhede tussen verskillende groepe mense. Informele nedersettings, spesifiek, reflekteer hierdie ongelykhede. Na raming leef ongeveer 10 persent van die bevolking in haglike omstandighede in informele landelike of stedelike nedersettings. Stedelike informele nedersettings is die vinnigste groeiende huishoudingsektor in Suid-Afrikaanse stede met ongeveer 4 miljoen inwoners. Hoewel hierdie groep mense nou wel deel is van die stedelike samelewing, is hulle nog uitgesluit van die stedelike voordele en is blootgestel aan erge ontberinge. Die verskaffing van volhoubare energie dienste aan hierdie stedelike gemeenskappe is kompleks en vol uitdagings. Die historiese gebruik van ʼn nasionale elektrisiteitsvoorsieninsprogram vir beidie formele en informele energie verskaffing is nie in staat om die verskillende tipes nedersettings, met unieke omstandighede, voldoende te voorsien nie. So ʼn onbuigbare energie voorsieningsbeleid hou nie die dinamiese en onvoorspelbare karakter van die informele stedelike gemeenskap in gedagte nie. Regerings en nie-regerings organisasies het nou dus reeds begin om alternatiewe energievoorsieningsmoontlikhede te ondersoek. Deur die oorwgeging van volhoubaarheid, die samewerking met verskillende belangwekkende rolspelers, asook die eindgebruiker se behoeftes, verskaf produk-diens sisteem besigheidsmodelle ʼn belowende oplossing vir die hindernisse van die informele konteks. Die doel van hierdie studie was om ʼn instrument te ontwikkel wat die veelvuldige kompromieë in die informele stedelike konteks in aanmerking neem vir die ontwikkeling van ʼn volhoubare produk-diens sisteem besigheidsmodel. Die raamwerk, wat manifesteer as ‘n instrument, was ontwikkel met die hulp van ‘n aangepasde gegronde teorie metode – die konseptuele raamwerk analise tegniek. Die bruikbaarheid van die ontwikkelde instrument is gedurende ʼn fokusgroep getoets met kenners in die energie bedryf. Die instrument was suksesvol om die kenners by te staan om ‘n volhoubare produk-diens sisteem besigheidsmodel te ontwikkel deur die verskillende kompromieë visueel uit te beeld. Die energie behoeftes en begeertes van die informele gemeenskap was onder andere in ag geneem tydens die bespreking van die verskeie kompromieë. Die inligting rakende die gemeenskap se energie behoeftes en begeertes was ingesamel deur die verspreiding van ʼn vraelys aan 100 huishoudings met die hulp van drie veldwerkers. ʼn Evaluasie vraelys na afloop van die fokusgroep het getoon dat kenners in die energie bedryf baie potensiaal in die ontwikkelde raamwerk sien. Die gevolgtrekking is dus dat die raamwerk wat in die studie ontwikkel is, kan help om nuwe en opwindende volhoubare energiedienste aan die stedelike armes beskikbaar te stel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/107800
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