Sustainable Development Goal 7

Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all

The International Energy Agency is at the forefront of global efforts to assess and analyse persistent energy access deficit, providing annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1) and the main data source for tracking official progress towards SDG targets on renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3).

Access to electricity

Energy access policies continue to bear fruit, with 2018 data showing promising signs. The number of people without access to electricity dropped from almost 1 billion in 2017 to 860 million, a record in recent years. India continued to make unprecedented progress, with almost 100 million people gaining access in 2018 alone. Despite significant steps forward in Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda, close to 600 million people are still without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Our latest country-by-country assessment shows that in 2018, the number of people without electricity access had dropped to 860 million, a record in recent years. However, progress remains uneven, with 80% of the 800 million people who have gained access since 2010 concentrated in Asia.

Almost 1 billion people have gained access to electricity in developing Asia since 2000, with 94% of the region having access to electricity in 2018 compared with 67% in 2000. Nearly two-third of this progress has occurred in India, which continues to make unprecedented progress towards universal electricity access, as a strong push from the government resulted in almost 100 million people gaining access to electricity in 2018. In March 2019, the government announced that it had provided access to all willing households after connecting 26 million households since October 2017 through the Saubhagya scheme, with 99% of them through the grid. While the government is now targeting a 24/7 supply of electricity, such accelerated progress can serve as a case in point to inspire efforts in other areas of the world.

As our latest analyses in the Africa Energy Outlook 2019 show, in Africa the number of people gaining access to electricity doubled from 9 million a year between 2000 and 2013 to 20 million people between 2014 and 2018, outpacing population growth. As a result, the number of people without access to electricity, which peaked at 610 million in 2013, declined slowly to around 595 million in 2018. Much of this recent dynamism has been in East Africa, as Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania accounted for more than 50% of those gaining access. In Kenya the access rate rose from 25% in 2013 to 75% in 2018. The majority of progress over the past decade in Africa has been made as a result of grid connections, but a rapid rise has been seen in access via solar home systems. Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia accounted for around half of the 5 million people gaining access through new solar home systems according to our latest estimations in 2018 (up from only 2 million in 2016).

However, sub-Saharan Africa’s electrification rate of 45% in 2018 remains very low compared with other parts of the world. The 600 million people still without access to electricity there represents more than two-thirds of the global total. About half of the sub-Saharan African population without access to electricity live in five countries: Nigeria, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.

Proportion of population with access to electricity, 2018


Outlook for electricity access

In the scenario where today’s current and announced policies continue (what we call the Stated Policies Scenario), the number of people without access to electricity in the world declines to around 620 million by 2030 and then increases to 740 million by 2050 (roughly 8% of the global population).

Continued progress in developing Asia sees the region reach an electrification rate of 99% by 2030. In sub-Saharan Africa, the population with access to electricity in 2030 almost doubles from today’s level, while the share of the population with access rises from 45% today to nearly 65%. Many countries on the continent are putting in place policies which, if effectively implemented, will allow around 20 million people to gain access to electricity each year by 2030, a rate similar to what the region has witnessed since 2013. However, those without access number around 530 million in 2030 and more than 700 million in 2050 in the face of rapid population growth and uneven progress across the region. In 2030, around 50% of the population without access in the Stated Policies Scenario live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Uganda, Niger, and Sudan: scaling up efforts in these countries is particularly important.

In the Sustainable Development Scenario, we consider that universal access to electricity is achieved by 2030, alongside access to clean cooking, in line with SDG 7.1. Given expected strong population growth over that period, particularly in countries where many people still lack access, achieving universal access means a cumulative total of more than 1 billion people connected to electricity to 2030. In sub-Saharan Africa, reaching universal access target by 2030 would require tripling the current rate of annual connections to attain over 60 million people on average each year.

Proportion of population with access to electricity, 2000-2030

The least expensive way to achieve universal electricity access in many areas appears to be renewable energy sources: in addition to increasing grid-connected electricity generation from renewables, declining costs of small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) for stand-alone systems and mini-grids is key in helping deliver affordable electricity access to millions. This is especially the case in remote rural areas in African countries, home to many of the people still deprived of electricity access. Decentralised solutions as a whole are the least-cost way to provide power to more than half of the population gaining access by 2030 according to our Sustainable Development Scenario.

Achieving full access by 2030 around the world would require an average investment of $40 billion per year. This is more than double the level in the Stated Policies Scenario, with two-thirds of the additional investment in sub-Saharan Africa alone. However, this sum represents less than 2% of the total energy sector investment in the Sustainable Development Scenario from today until 2030. 

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