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.
While Africa’s rapid economic growth holds promise, sub-Saharan Africa lags behind the world, and particularly the rest of the developing world, in terms of basic indicators like infant morality, maternal mortality, literacy, and access to health care. The major constraint to making deeper inroads into poverty, said Asafu-Adjaye, is a lack of energy access.