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Wind and solar energy in Mexico and Kenya: Corruption risks and drivers

Renewable energy is seen as ‘new energy’, but is prone to ‘old corruption’. Identification of corruption risks and drivers in wind and solar energy markets in Mexico and Kenya reveal an overlap – despite differences in the technologies. Corrupt practices might affect policymaking and regulation, and planning and delivery processes, and impact local communities. To successfully tackle corruption in these processes, the creation of specific measures must be closely followed by their robust implementation.

8 April 2024
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Wind and solar energy in Mexico and Kenya: Corruption risks and drivers

Main points

  • Bypassing regulations or accelerating processes through bribery and facilitation payments, emerge as the most widespread practice in wind and solar energy in Mexico and Kenya. It encompasses land affairs, including acquisition, possession, and use; project development comprising permits, licences, impact assessments, and due diligence; as well as implementation through tender fixing.
  • Given that profit maximisation drives private sector involvement in wind energy, the expansion of the sector suggests that the profit-to-corruption ratio is still favourable to private sector investments.
  • Illegal seizures, physical violence, and human rights violations – such as intimidation or threat behaviour, disappearances, or murders of indigenous and ancestral leaders – have been widely documented in Mexico. It is highly distressing that firms from nations professing a commitment to human rights engage in such actions in non-western settings.
  • Private sector stakeholders have had a significant impact on shaping renewable energy laws with a focus on profit maximisation, such as advocating for corporate social responsibility instead of revenue sharing.
  • New methods for sharing and distributing profits from energy development with local communities could help fund development and decrease corruption and rent-seeking. One such method could involve communities contracting private companies to construct energy infrastructure, with the profits remaining with the local community.

Cite this publication

Ceballos Oviedo, J. ; Sovacool, B. ; Mullard, S. (2024) Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Issue 2024:1)

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About the authors

Juan Camilo Ceballos Oviedo

Juan Camilo Ceballos is a political scientist working on the intersection between governance issues and politics, with a focus on subnational governments and developing countries. Ceballos has served various civil society organisations and academic institutions in the anti-corruption space, including National University of Colombia’s Development Research Center, Transparency International Colombia, Mexico’s Observatorio Nacional Ciudadano, Humboldt University of Berlin, and the International Anti-Corruption Academy. He holds a BA (Hon.) in Politics and International Relations from Nueva Granada Military University, Colombia, and an MA in National and International Administration and Policy from the University of Potsdam, Germany.

Benjamin K. Sovacool

Dr Benjamin K. Sovacool is Professor of Earth and Environment at Boston University, USA, where he is the Founding Director of the Institute for Global Sustainability. He was formerly Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) at the University of Sussex Business School, UK, and Director of the Centre for Energy Technologies at Aarhus University, Denmark. Sovacool also held the position as University Distinguished Professor of Business & Social Sciences at Aarhus University. His field of expertise covers energy policy, energy justice, energy security, climate change mitigation, and climate change adaptation.

Saul Mullard is a senior adviser at the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre and a civil society specialist with a background in historical sociology, development studies, and South Asian studies. His research interests include the relationship between corruption and climate change and the role of local communities and indigenous peoples in addressing corruption and environmental protection. Mullard holds a doctorate and master’s in South and Inner Asian Studies from the University of Oxford, as well as a BA in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.


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This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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