The Players in the New Energy System: What Role for the State in the Anthropocene Era?

African Review of Law and Critical Thinking, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2021

56 Pages Posted: 27 Aug 2021 Last revised: 30 Aug 2021

See all articles by Aubin Nzaou-Kongo

Aubin Nzaou-Kongo

Jean Moulin University Lyon 3; University of Houston Law Center

Date Written: April 1, 2021


This article explores the significant role that the state is still expected to play in initiating and implementing the energy transition. In this regard, it is laid out in three parts. Part I focuses on the premise of the role that derives from constitutional law. This role is considered classic, because it is based on different functions of the state, and the legitimate constrain that distinguishes it from other social actors, including non-state actors. Tremendous materials are offered by the analysis either from the perspective of sociology or law studies when it comes to the specific situation of French-speaking African states. The scope of analysis is broadened with the energy law approach. With a focus on African English-speaking countries, the article examines both the way the state is enforcing statutes aiming to design its own transition scheme and exercising its discretionary power through its energy policy. Beyond the functions of the state—deriving from its sovereign power—these elements set out the direction in quest of a specific role the state can play in the energy transition as a process in Part II. As such, the energy transition, if it is to lead to coherent social change, requires strong and dynamic leadership, including clear, nuanced, and forward-looking direction on the broad sections of the overall process, and the environmental justice issues that necessarily cluster around them. For this reason, the role of the state is construed as both a steering role, and an integrative role for environmental, economic and social issues. Part III provides a rationale for the necessary and strong support of international cooperation—to the state—in order to achieve the paradigm shift smoothly. In Part IV, I emphasize the African Union's transition initiatives in the run-up to COP 25, which I hold out as an inducement for states' efforts. In fact, this article seeks to address these issues. Taken together, they could help build a coherent pattern of the role that African states play in the energy transition.

Keywords: energy transition, global energy transition, energy law, climate change, european law, african union, IRENA, ONU, Anthropocene Era, state, new energy system, actors of energy law, players, non-state actors, state and constitutional law, statutory arrangements to energy transition, MARENA policy

JEL Classification: K32, K33, K30, K00, H11, I28, Q01, Q4, Q48, Q54, Q56, Q58

Suggested Citation

Nzaou-Kongo, Aubin and Nzaou-Kongo, Aubin, The Players in the New Energy System: What Role for the State in the Anthropocene Era? (April 1, 2021). African Review of Law and Critical Thinking, Vol. 2, No. 1, 2021, Available at SSRN:

Aubin Nzaou-Kongo (Contact Author)

University of Houston Law Center ( email )

4604 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States
713-743-2100 (Phone)


Jean Moulin University Lyon 3 ( email )

15 Quai Claude Bernard
69007 Lyon
Lyon, 69007
+(33)4 78 78 72 51 (Phone)


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