Globally, 733 million people, including more than 570 million in sub-Saharan Africa, lack access to electricity, says a new World Bank report, which highlights that the COVID-19 pandemic has largely contributed to slowing progress towards universal access to energy.
At the current rate, 670 million people will still be without electricity by 2030, 10 million more than last year’s estimate, says the 2022 edition of the Development Goal Progress Monitoring Report durable no. 7.
The report highlights the impact that the pandemic, with its lockdowns, disruptions to global supply chains and the reallocation of fiscal resources to limit rising food and fuel prices, has had on the pace of achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7), which is to ensure access for all to reliable, sustainable and modern energy services at an affordable cost by 2030. “These are the countries that are the most vulnerable and those who were already lagging behind in access to energy who have been most affected,” the Washington-based financial institution said, noting that nearly 90 million people in Asia and Africa for whom the access to electricity had become a reality, find themselves unable to pay for their basic energy consumption.
To the effects of the COVID-19 crisis on energy has been added, in recent months, the war between Ukraine and Russia, a source of uncertainty on the world oil and gas markets, and therefore of a spike in energy prices. Africa, where 568 million inhabitants do not have access to electricity, is the least electrified continent, deplores the Bretton Woods institution.
Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 71% of the world’s population without electricity in 2018, and 77% in 2020. In most other regions, however, the access deficit has decreased. “While globally, 70 million more people can now cook with clean fuels and technologies, but this is insufficient progress given population growth, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Saharan”, notes the same source.
“The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have reversed recent progress toward universal access to electricity and clean cooking, and slowed vital improvements in energy efficiency, even as renewables have shown encouraging resilience,” said Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, quoted in the report.
According to the World Bank document, the share of the world’s population with access to electricity has increased from 83% in 2010 to 91% in 2020, an increase of 1.3 billion people worldwide. The number of people without access to electricity worldwide has fallen from 1.2 billion in 2010 to 733 million in 2020.
However, the pace of progress in electrification has slowed in recent years, no doubt because it is increasingly difficult to reach unserved, more remote and poorer populations, but also because of the precedent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we explain. To achieve the objective set for 2030, 100 million new connections must be made per year. At the current rate of progress, the global electrification rate will be only 92% in 2030.