Chinese green energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa: Are there co-benefits?

Padmasai Lakshmi Bhamidipati, Cecilia Gregersen, Ulrich Elmer Hansen, Julian Kirchherr, Rasmus Lema, Rasmus Lema, Margrethe Holm Andersen (Editor), Rebecca Hanlin, Charles Nzila

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Investments in renewable energy are increasing rapidly in sub-Saharan Africa. An interesting trend to note is the rapid increase and likely future growth of Chinese involvement in large-scale renewable-energy infrastructure projects. Our focus in this chapter is to determine the extent of co-benefits created when renewable-energy projects are developed by Chinese investors. For this, we undertake an in-depth micro-level analysis of three Chinese renewable-energy investment projects in hydro (Ghana), wind (Ethiopia), and solar photovoltaic (PV) (Kenya), based on primary data. Overall, we find evidence of ‘bounded benefits'. On the one hand, we can identify some newly created jobs, linkages generated with actors in local systems of production, and training activities involving local staff. On the other hand, the extent of these benefits is very limited. The results suggest that policymakers should be wary of overly optimistic expectations when it comes to assessing the co-benefits of renewable energy projects in the context of scarce pre-existing capabilities. However, the adoption of pro-active strategies and the implementation of carefully designed policies can increase the local economic co-benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication Building Innovation Capabilities for Sustainable Industrialisation
Number of pages19
PublisherTaylor and Francis Group
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
SeriesBuilding Innovation Capabilities for Sustainable Industrialisation


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