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Sub-Saharan Africa's energy transition - A choice between growing sustainably and sustained growth?

28 May 2021 Anna Shpitsberg Daniel Berkove Natznet Tesfay Rebekah Bostan

As calls grow louder for an energy transition that prioritizes the rapid decarbonization of energy systems worldwide, the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) have a more complicated set of priorities. Not only do most countries already feature energy systems that are largely decarbonized, but, as a region, SSA generates the lowest carbon emissions in the world both in terms of overall volume and on a per capita basis. Yet many of the continent's largest economies are dependent on hydrocarbons, while the region also suffers from profound energy and economic poverty. Consequently, for SSA's policymakers, "sustained growth" through accelerated economic developmentand electrification takes immediate priority, even as "growing sustainably" remains a fundamental imperative. However, striking this balance will be a tremendous challenge as 600 million Africans currently lack access to energy, and efforts to extend energy access must also address how to absorb an additional 1.3 billion people into the energy economy by 2050 through population growth.

Our team identifies and assesses the various factors that drive SSA's energy transition and offers a view for how it will resolve in the future. For additional insights, download the full whitepaper.

Posted 28 May 2021


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