Disrupted Infrastructures: An Urban Political Ecology of Interrupted Electricity in Accra


Cities in the global South are often considered to be in the midst of infrastructural breakdown, and characterized as either lacking networked services or as suffering from ongoing disruption and sometimes failure. This article focuses on the electricity network of Accra to examine the series of socio-natural processes that produce this ongoing disruption and to explore the power relations of networked systems in the city. It focuses on the production of disruption through the analytical lens of urban political ecology, in order to show how such a framework can be utilized to interrogate energy geographies. The article begins by describing what happens when the lights go out and the flow of electricity is interrupted across Accra in order to connect a series of socio-natural processes that contribute to the ongoing network disruption and interruption. The article establishes the effect of historical infrastructural governance, greenhouse gas emissions, flows of international capital, water and drought in northern Ghana, as well as urban sprawl, slum urbanism and rising energy demand in the city, to illustrate the fundamentally unequal and politicized socio-natures of these disrupted infrastructural processes.