In 2014, approximately 62.5 percent of the 1.06 billion people living without access to electricity resided in Sub-Sahara Africa. This represented 6 out of 10 people or about 609 million people; more than any other region of the world. Nearly 80% of those lacking access to electricity across sub-Saharan Africa live in rural communities.

The United Nations (UN), Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, “Affordable and Clean Energy,” was established to ensure widespread access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy. Since the inception of the SDGs in 2015, sub-Saharan African has made significant progress in accelerating access to electricity in the region. The report, Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report 2018finds that the African electricity deficit has fallen by 3% since 2015. East Africa is leading this transition with new investments in hydro and renewable energy sources in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania.

Despite this progress, the African continent still plays hosts to the largest share of people without electricity, estimated at 588 million people in 2017. Africa faces three main constraints: underinvestment in energy infrastructure, low penetration of renewable energy technology, and growing population. To address this problem, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has decided to allocate US$ 3 billion over the next 5 years in the form of investment loans, reforms, advisory, and guarantees to selected countries. The bank is also encouraging other initiatives including the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa, Partial Risk Guarantee (RPG) and unlocking private financing sources for African Energy Projects. If these plans are rolled out successfully, sub-Saharan Africa may be a prime destination for investments in renewable and other forms of alternative energy infrastructure over the next decade.

The Bassiouni Group

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