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Towards a renewable energy framework for poverty reduction in South African townships: a case of south-west township (Soweto)

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Poverty is one of the world’s most fundamental issues negatively impacting livelihoods, with South Africa experiencing high poverty levels. Central to addressing basic human needs towards poverty eradication lies the provision of renewable energy. Poverty can be addressed through access to energy sources that are modern, clean, and affordable. Therefore, energy is necessary for meeting basic human needs and a prerequisite for economic development. The study investigated the ways and extent to which a move towards cheap and clean renewable energy for poor communities contributed towards poverty reduction in an urban context. The purpose of the study was to develop a renewable energy framework for poverty reduction in South African townships, focusing on the Soweto township as a case study. The study employed a mixed research design that included quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative data was gathered from a stratified random sample size of 384 respondents selected from a target population of Soweto residents at Dobsonville neighbourhood. Questionnaires were distributed through electronic mail and self-administered questionnaire. Qualitative data was gathered through interviews from a sample of 15 purposively selected participants. Interviews were analysed using conversational analysis and the data collected from the interviews were merged with the questionnaire data, seeking depth as well as breadth. The thematic analysis was the process used to identify patterns or themes within qualitative data. Data collected from respondents was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistical techniques. The tool utilised to analyse quantitative data was the latest Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The study findings revealed that the implementation of renewable energy technologies in South Africa will help alleviate poverty, improve the socio-economic status of citizens, enhance economic growth and save the environment. The study recommended a framework for clean and affordable renewable energy as a poverty reduction strategy in Soweto township. Further recommendations were that the South African government should provide the citizens with affordable renewable energy equipment, such as solar panels to those that are regarded as poor and provide incentives to those that install solar panels in their household.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.