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The Energy Change Lab is designed to create space for dangerous thinking, to explore complex ideas, and to search for innovative solutions in the energy domain.

Our work will combine the knowledge and experience of a wide range of stakeholders by means of research, experimentation and practice. Founding partners Hivos and IIED bring expertise in action, advocacy and research:

Hivos has a history of financing and implementing projects on the ground, together with policy influencing. Hivos also invests in knowledge that promotes practitioner-academic collaboration on issues for civil society organisations and the wider development sector.

IIED is an established research organisation, generating robust evidence in the ‘green domain’. IIED’s work is informed by a practical perspective acquired via hands-on research with grassroots partners.

Our projects will combine these approaches, as we take an iterative — and sometimes experimental — approach, allowing current projects to inform future interventions.

The Energy Change Lab is based in Tanzania and will focus on the challenges of this particular country, both in rural and urban areas. What we learn will be shared worldwide, and conversely, global research will be undertaken on concepts such as ‘citizen-centred energy systems’ – the results of which can feed into the local Tanzanian context.

Tanzania: a dynamic but fragmented energy context

Tanzania’s energy landscape is undergoing major changes. Change is being spurred by policy and institutional reforms, the expansion of the grid, the growth of green and decentralized sources of supply, as well as major gas finds.

How can this transition deliver tangible benefits for the majority of Tanzanians in the form of better and reliable energy services, new employment and enterprise opportunities, sound investment of gas revenues for the public good, and protection of vital natural resources?

How can it avoid reinforcing existing inequalities and elite capture?  What will be the roles of citizens? These questions lie at the heart of the ‘change lab’ innovation process.

We are working with Tanzanian organisations to design the change lab. Our approach builds on experience from change labs elsewhere [LINK to Resources/links] including labs that foster learning and change through social enterprise incubators, leadership programs, seed funds, open-innovation competitions, scenario planning, co-working spaces and other approaches.

While lab development in Tanzania will require its own approach, IIED and Hivos will bring learning from other examples both inside and outside of the energy sector [LINK to resources section], and we work with the likes of Natural Innovation, who have significant ‘lab’ experience across other contexts.

In speaking to a wide range of Tanzanian stakeholders, we have identified three critical thematic areas for the lab: distributed energy; energy and jobs; and accountability of energy services. 

Lab activities this year include:

  • research in to ‘productive uses’ of energy for job creation
  • exploring existing and potential new feedback mechanisms from consumers to utilities and government in order to improve service delivery
  • an ‘energy safari’ [LINK], aimed at young Tanzanian leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs and employees from across disciplines and sectors

Find out more, and learn how you can JOIN US [LINK] in shaping the lab.