Scaling China's Green Energy Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Prospects

Chiyemura, Frangton; Shen, Wei and Chen, Yushi (2021). Scaling China's Green Energy Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and Prospects. The African Climate Foundation.



This report sought to investigate, from both ends, the barriers and potential solutions to scaling China’s engagement with the SSA’s non-hydro renewable energy market. We found that scaling of Chinese wind and solar energy projects in the SSA is constrained by a number of institutional, material and discursive factors. Firstly, the Chinese policy community and institutional arrangements for overseas energy activities are not necessarily suitable for scaling up renewable energy activities, particularly wind and solar projects in Africa. Incoherent policy goals, an inflexible project screening process and a lack of business engagement all contribute to the underrepresentation of wind and solar energy projects in the current project portfolio. Secondly, the lack of a green agenda among the key actors from both ends is deeply rooted in a scepticism about renewable energy, compared to the well-established appreciation of conventional energy sectors and their project development models. Thirdly, the political economy from both supply and demand ends plays a significant role in shaping institutions and ideologies governing the sector. Eskom, Ethiopia ElectricPowerandlargeChinese state-owned enterprises in traditional energy sectors have tremendous influence in pushing or deterring the green agenda. Overall, Chinese involvement in African countries’ renewable energy sector has much to do with the concerns about the host country’s macroeconomic performance, as well as the political climate, particularly when a sovereign guarantee is absent.

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