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Configurations électriques, inégalités d’accès et pratiques citadines à Ibadan (Nigéria) et à Cotonou (Bénin)

Abstract : Access to electricity is a crucial issue in the cities of the South. As demand increases, conventional networks are failing, insufficient and sometimes absent, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. To satisfy their various needs, city dwellers turn to other solutions, giving rise to various socio-technical assemblages that vary according to the city, the neighbourhood and the household, depending on the conditions of (dys)functioning of the networked service and the modalities of appropriation of the technologies available locally. At the scale of each city, the result is an urban electrical configuration that is perpetually reshaped by the interactions of its constituent parts, in symbiosis with the urban environment. Borrowing its theoretical frameworks from science and technology studies and the social sciences, the research aims to understand the dynamic stability of the configurations and the implications of their incremental transition on urban functioning, particularly in terms of socio-spatial inequalities. In a multiscalar comparative approach, extensive empirical work was carried out in 2017 and 2018 with 160 households in a selection of neighbourhoods reflecting urban diversity in Ibadan in Nigeria and Cotonou in Benin. Mapping, at the heart of the analysis, reveals the distribution and diversity of accommodations between socio-technical assemblages, inequalities of access and differentiated urban integration.The research shows that urban practices, which are both open to new opportunities for bricolage, constrained by individually mobilisable access mechanisms and shaped by power relations, stabilise regimes of access to electricity and fuel processes of transition through hybridisation that are extremely sensitive to multi-level political and institutional dynamics, to the various channels of market globalisation and to local networks of solidarity and influence. The regularities observed make it possible to define three regimes in these fields: the combination of intermittencies, makeshift bricolage and satisfaction through accumulation. Their analysis shows that the improvement of the quality and continuity of the service depends on ambivalent market and social logics that do not allow the most vulnerable city dwellers to escape from poverty traps and that, in the absence of an overall regulation at the scale of the configuration, the functional interdependencies between different modes of access to electricity generate uncontrolled negative externalities that limit the benefits expected from the generalisation of the conventional network. Finally, this work demonstrates that the urban electricity transition requires going beyond the reference of the single and uniform conventional network, to think about the contours of a socio-technically heterogeneous urban service, articulated to the diversity of urban living conditions
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Mélanie Rateau. Configurations électriques, inégalités d’accès et pratiques citadines à Ibadan (Nigéria) et à Cotonou (Bénin). Géographie. Université Paris-Est, 2021. Français. ⟨NNT : 2021PESC2026⟩. ⟨tel-03523235⟩

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