Global electricity access grows — but it’s still not on track for the SDGs

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More people on the planet have access to electricity than ever before, however, the world is on pace to fall short on the goal of affordable and sustainable energy for all by 2030, according to an international report on the state of international energy.

Meeting that goal, which was set as part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, will require innovative solutions —  such as solar lighting and full-home systems, as well as mini-grids — to serve the poorest and hardest to reach people, the authors wrote.

The Energy Progress Report released today found about 840 million people (about 11 percent of the people on the planet) now live without electricity, which is down from 1 billion in 2016, and 1.2 billion in 2010. Most of the progress over the past few years in connecting people was made in India, Bangladesh and Kenya.

Despite this progress, there is still a rural-urban divide: with the rural access rate at 79 percent, compared to 97 percent in urban areas.

A bulk of those without electricity — 573 million — are in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to the 20 countries with the lowest rates of electricity.

“I am particularly concerned by the dramatic lack of access to reliable, modern and sustainable energy in certain parts of the world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, a region where we need to really concentrate our efforts,” Fatih Birol, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, said in a statement. The report is authored by the International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency, United Nations, World Bank and World Health Organization.

Each year between 2015 and 2017 about 153 million people gained access to electricity. If this rate continued, the 2030 UN goal of universal electricity would be reached, according to the report, however, “connecting the last of the unserved populations may be more challenging than past electrification efforts,” the authors wrote.

They added: “Given the many challenges facing access-deficit countries, the latest projection places the access rate in 2030 at 92 percent, leaving 650 million people around the world without access to electricity.”

About 90 percent of those projected to be without electricity in 2030 would be in Sub-Saharan Africa. (…)

Brian Beinkowski

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