1. bookVolume 16 (2022): Edition 1 (June 2022)
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Magazine
eISSN
1646-7752
Première parution
16 Jun 2016
Périodicité
2 fois par an
Langues
Anglais
access type Accès libre

Resilience from Below: Technicians, Repair and Maintenance Works in Post-socialist Dar es Salaam, 1985-2020

Publié en ligne: 24 Jun 2022
Volume & Edition: Volume 16 (2022) - Edition 1 (June 2022)
Pages: 73 - 98
Détails du magazine
License
Format
Magazine
eISSN
1646-7752
Première parution
16 Jun 2016
Périodicité
2 fois par an
Langues
Anglais
Abstract

Since its establishment by the German East Africa Railway Company in 1906, Dar es Salaam’s electricity infrastructure has been functioning precariously. Tanzania’s national power company (Tanesco) collaborated with donors to ameliorate these problems, but to no avail. Tanzania’s cities continued to experience both cascading and rolling blackouts, and such breakdowns of infrastructure became critical, especially from the 1980s onward, making electricity consumers vulnerable. This article illustrates that the failure of Tanesco’s systems does not mean that inhabitants in the city have remained passively exposed to the consequences of power breakdowns. Based on interviews, a literature review, and archival material, it demonstrates that electricians have become part and parcel of a socio-technical landscape that has enhanced household resilience—the ability to survive in a country partly plagued by failing critical infrastructure. The article reveals the active role played by formally and informally trained electricians (mafundi) in forging alternative solutions, increasing electricity users’ ability to cope with power outages. Employing innovative skills to repair electrical appliances and tinker with Tanesco’s infrastructure, street electricians increased the resilience of residential electricity users in the face of recurrent power failures. The author argues that urban resilience studies in African cities like Dar es Salaam need to consider street technicians to gain a full understanding of households’ responses to vulnerable electric infrastructure.

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