By Stefan Bouzarovski
At the beginning of April I visited Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo as part of an initial research and networking trip on the EVALUATE project. The trip highlighted some of the infrastructural issues faced by these countries in the process of post-socialist transition, which, however, vary widely according to local context. While in Macedonia (and to a certain extent, Kosovo) there are major difficulties in providing energy to households with lower incomes (which encompass a very significant part of the population – Macedonia has one of the highest Gini coefficients in Europe), in Albania such issues are compounded by the nature of the underlying socio-technical assemblage supporting the energy sector. Decades of under-investment resulted in a lack of electricity supply during periods of high domestic demand and low production (albeit this was recently alleviated thanks to the construction of a high tension line with Montenegro), while creating situations where basic safety standards were not met (see the images below). In addition, energy efficiency is a key issue in all three countries.