China’s role for Africa’s energy transition: a critical review

Many countries in the sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region face multiple challenges in the transition to a modern and sustainable energy system. At the outset, there is a severe shortage of energy supply after a decade of fast-growing economic activity in many SSA countries. 

The SSA region has enormous potential for various traditional and renewable energy resources; the question is: who can work with African governments and the private sector to tap these potentials by overcoming technological and financial barriers? In the past two decades, China has emerged as a major player in Africa’s energy sector, attracting tremendous academic and public attention. 

This paper will review recent literatures to understand the current debates around China’s involvement in and contribution to Africa’s urgently needed energy transition. It tries to provide an answer regarding the ways in which Chinese government actors, investors, financiers, and project developers are shaping the transition pathways in various SSA countries, and helps to identify issue areas that require further investigation.

Wei Shen