Award Name

Sophomore Award Winner

Author Information

Jordan Grimaldi, Pomona

Award Date



Rooted largely in colonial histories, Africa is plagued with immense energy poverty and a relative reliance on fossil fuels, especially in Southern Africa. In this paper, Africa is defined as those countries in which there exists a relatively strong democracy and economy. Research has revealed a strong focus on South Africa, in particular. The majority of Sub-Saharan African energy comes from bioenergy (mainly in the residential sector), placing great strain on forest stock and increasing health risks due to poor air quality. Steps must be taken to reduce this dependency and increase diversity of renewable energy options for rural communities. The scaling-up of the renewable energy sector is the only sustainable way to attempt to ensure that the main priorities of social and economic development are met. Africa does not have the same fossil-fuel dependency as many other continents/countries do and, thus, still has the opportunity to skip over a fossil-fuel intensive economy and move towards a renewable economy. Africa has seen recent growth in the renewable energy sector thanks to a variety of domestic and foreign players involved in a variety of models of growth. Foreign involvement in the renewable sector is necessary—at least in the short and medium term—as Africa generally lacks the higher-education infrastructure and competitive, private firms to drive the sector on its own. That being said, any foreign involvement must be held accountable in order to ensure that Africa does not become re-colonized by foreign powers. Therefore, Africa’s future requires not only a mix of renewable energy sources, but also a mix of domestic and foreign players contributing to a variety of models of growth.

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