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Africa has enormous untapped renewable energy potential: it is more than 50 times the global projected demand for electricity in 2040 – and over 1,000 times Africa’s own projected demand for electricity in 2050.

At the same time, Africa has high energy poverty: Nearly 600 million Africans have no access to electricity, an additional 150 million Africans have unreliable electricity access and ~900 million Africans have no access to clean cooking solutions. The regulatory status quo and cash deprived utility companies make power relatively expensive in Africa.

The most climate-friendly scenario to reach universal energy access in Africa is also the most cost-effective, but it does require more upfront investment. Installing renewable energy production (and storage to tackle intermittency) already is cheaper than adding fossil-fuel powered capacity. Africa can provide energy access for all by 2030 with 30% lower costs per kWh, reducing total emissions related to energy generation by ~80%, and emissions per MWh by well over 90%, (all compared to 2040 stated policy), according to the UNFCCC energy pathways report. This does require a new approach to investment. While the overall costs are lower, the green scenario requires 40% higher upfront investment than the current stated policy pathway and 18% higher than the pathway that keeps emissions constant.

Anchor industrial demand can make investment in new renewable power generation bankable, breaking a long-standing deadlock, driving growth and solving energy poverty. Africa’s potential needs to be tapped by investing in renewable power plants. People would invest in those power plants if there was a lot of available industry to use the energy. Available industry would come if energy costs weren’t so high. And energy costs wouldn’t be so high if there was enough demand… a frustrating deadlock! Bringing large industrial demand in as anchor demand, can set in motion a virtuous growth spiral that resolves energy poverty and enables a green industrial transformation. As you can see in the description of the pathways, this is exactly one of the things CAP-A works on.