568mln Africans live without access to electricity

ADDIS ABABA – Africa has remained the least electrified in the world with 568 million of its population living without electricity access, a new global report says. 

The 2022 edition of Tracking SDG 7: The Energy Progress Report shows Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without electricity jumped to 77% in 2020 from 71% in 2018.

The increase comes after most regions saw declines in their share of the access deficits following consistent progress in electrification between 2010 and 2020. 

The report claims that there are still 733 million people who have no access to electricity across the world.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for more than three-quarters of the people (568m) who remained without access in 2020, the report says.

The largest unserved populations are in Nigeria (92m), the DR Congo (72m), and Ethiopia (56m).

It says access growth outpaced population growth in Ethiopia between 2010 and 2020; it did not do so in Nigeria and the DRC, where electrification failed to keep pace with population growth.

According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key factor in slowing progress toward universal energy access.

Its impacts, including lockdowns, disruptions to global supply chains, and diversion of fiscal resources to keep food and fuel prices affordable, have affected the pace of progress toward the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 7) of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030. 

At the current rate of progress, 670 million people will remain without electricity by 2030 – 10 million more than projected last year.

The report finds that despite continued disruptions in economic activity and supply chains, renewable energy was the only energy source to grow through the pandemic. 

However, these positive global and regional trends in renewable energy have left behind many countries most in need of electricity. 

This was aggravated by a decrease in international financial flows for the second year in a row, falling to USD 10.9 billion in 2019.

Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol said big renewable energy financers have failed to support those most in need. 

“International public financing for renewable energy needs to accelerate, especially in the poorest, most vulnerable countries,” he said. “We have failed to support those most in need” 

Despite the immense need, international public financial flows to developing countries in support of clean energy decreased for the second year in a row, falling to USD 10.9 billion in 2019.

“With only eight years left to achieve universal access to affordable and sustainable energy, we need radical actions to accelerate the increase of international public financial flows and distribute them in a more equitable manner, so 733 million people who are currently left behind can enjoy the benefits of clean energy access,” the executive director said.