This paper provides a longitudinal, critical overview of woodfuel interventions in Kano and northern dryland Nigeria. Woodfuel still accounts for up to two-thirds of energy consumption, yet fuelwood-related issues are often ‘by-products’ of ‘higher priority’ energy–environment–development preoccupations. We suggest that energy policy has historically reflected preoccupations dominated by fossil fuel and new and renewable energy concerns, thereby raising questions about whether and to what extent such interventions reflect a desire to address woodfuel in its own right. The paper adopts a selective critique of some foundational assumptions about the energy–poverty–development nexus, notably in relation to energy transition theory and practice, to explain such outcomes and their practical and policy implications. In doing so, the analysis places particular emphasis on context, to demonstrate why the role of ‘situatedness’ must be better appreciated in energy circles and, equally importantly, acted upon during woodfuel interventions. More meaningful interventions, the paper concludes, should be based less on insights deriving from generic (wood) energy systems, hierarchies and relations, and considerably more on the lessons to be learned from the dynamic and complex realities of actual (wood) energy practices, networks and economies. In this, as in much else, context remains key.
- Energy transition
- Northern Nigeria