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China is Financing an Electric Power Building Boom in Africa

Aerial photo of the new 50mw Chinese financed and constructed solar power plant in the northeastern Kenyan city of Garissa that will allow the region to connect to the national grid for the first time.

African policymakers up and down the continent will all tell you that one issue, more than any other, stands apart as the key priority in 2020: electricity. Without additional electric power capacity, both generation and distribution, none of their ambitious industrialization plans will be possible. Industries need power to operate and right now most African countries do not have enough, presenting a major barrier to attracting new international investment that is essential to employ the hundreds of millions of young people across the continent who will become increasingly restless without meaningful jobs.

Failing to provide sufficient, reliable electric power can also lead to serious political problems as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is learning firsthand from the Eskom fiasco that has led to rolling blackouts across the country due to load shedding.

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