Initiatives like the UN's Sustainable Energy for All initiative are trying to unite two of the thorniest challenges of the international community in recent years - poverty reduction and the transition from a high-carbon world to a low-carbon world. In Africa, this challenge is particularly acute.

The challenge is that renewable energy may not be able to supply the energy levels that Africa needs at a price that people can afford. By contrast, an "all of the above" energy policy has much to commend it from a development perspective, but it comes with a big downside: locking-in yet more high-carbon development.

For renewable energy advocates, the race is on, not just to power Africa, but to do it fast and cheaply.