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Energy is the key component in the mitigation response to combatting climate change. If dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate is to be avoided this century, a worldwide transition to renewable energy sources needs to take place urgently. The African continent is facing a particularly key moment in its development pathway, with a stark choice to be made between either following the same highcarbon path pursued by industrialized countries, or concentrating its growth on low-carbon climate resilient development. Demand for energy is exploding in Africa, as countries develop economically and per capita energy use rises as per capita incomes grow1. The continent has the natural resources required to provide renewable sources of energy, some of which are already being exploited. Global investments in renewable energy grew by 32 per cent between 2009 and 2010, to a record US$211 billion, with countries in Africa posting the highest percentage increase of all developing regions (excluding the emerging economies of Brazil, China and India). However there are still significant obstacles to the large scale and widespread provision of clean energy in Africa and a worrying dependence on fossil fuels remains. To transform the continent, economic growth must be decarbonized, which will require transformation of both energy policies and practices. A paradigm shift is needed, with a new approach that focuses on effective energy governance and the promotion of inclusive and sustainable growth. Choosing this path is essential both for the good of the planet and the development of Africa.

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