For the first time in ten years the number of people without access to electricity in the world has increased

For the first time in ten years the number of people without access to electricity in the world has increased
For the first time in ten years the number of people without access to electricity in the world has increased

Given current policies, 660 million people will still not have access to electricity in 2030, including 85% in sub-Saharan Africa. This is what a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the UN which has just been published predicts.

The number of people without access to electricity in the world increased in 2022 for the first time in ten years, according to this study produced in collaboration with the World Bank (WB), the international agency for renewable energies (Irena) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Thus, some 685 million people did not have access to electricity in 2022 worldwide, or 10 million more than in 2021. Eighteen of the twenty countries with the largest electricity access deficits are found in sub-Saharan Africa. The first three countries in this ranking, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia, alone account for almost a third of the world deficit. Nigeria, although Africa’s largest economy and leading oil producer, has an electrification rate of only 60%. It is the country with the most people without access to electricity (86 million) in the world. The DRC, despite the enormous hydroelectric potential of its Congo River, only provides electricity to 21% of its population. Despite considerable energy potential, including oil, gas, coal, hydroelectricity and renewable resources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy, in 2022, sub-Saharan Africa would represent, according to this study, 83% of the deficit global access (571 million people out of 685 million), a significant increase compared to 2010 when this figure was 50%. This increase is largely explained by rapid population growth which is outpacing investment efforts in energy infrastructure. In addition, due to instability in the Middle East, the increase in droughts and floods, but also persistent inflation and high interest rates, governments and institutions are struggling to invest in necessary energy infrastructure.

Electrification is one of the sectors with the most disparities in Africa with significant gaps between nations. While some countries like Morocco and Egypt boast 100% electrification rates, South Sudan has an electrification rate of just 5%, hampered by chronic political instability and internal conflict. Other nations rich in oil resources, such as Chad (12%) or Angola (48%), also show disappointing levels of electrification. For comparison, in Central and South Asia, the electricity access gap fell from 414 million people in 2010 to less than 33 million in 2022. At the same time, 2.1 billion people were still dependent in 2022 of cooking systems harmful to health based on coal, manure, wood or agricultural waste, almost as many as the previous year. The fumes from this equipment are the cause of 3.2 million premature deaths each year, according to the study.

Conversely, the report highlights the solid growth of renewable energies, mainly wind and solar. In 2022, their production capacity reached a new record, with 424 watts per capita on average and global consumption of renewable electricity increased by more than 6% compared to 2021, reaching 28.2% of electricity consumption. It must be said that financial aid for low-carbon energies in developing countries jumped in 2022, to 15.4 billion dollars, an increase of 25% compared to 2021, but still far from the 28.5 billion aid of 2016. Although the European Union is one of the most advanced regions in the world in terms of clean energy deployment, despite these efforts, the world is still not able to achieve the objectives of sustainable development in energy by 2030, which plan to triple the production capacity of renewable energy, estimate the authors of the report. However, the agency notes that solar energy, in particular, represents an exceptional opportunity for the continent. With average solar irradiation varying between 4 and 7 kWh/m2/day and reserves estimated at nearly 60 million terawatt hours per year, Africa has one of the greatest solar potentials in the world.

For 2024, investments in solar electricity are on track to exceed those devoted to all other sources of electricity production. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) “ In 2024 the world will spend 2000 billion dollars to equip itself with clean energies, twice as much as the amount for fossil fuels. To ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services in sub-Saharan Africa, concentrated and sustained efforts are required. It is essential to improve data collection and use modern analytical tools to track progress and support decision-making based on reliable data.” The IEA also considers that investment in renewable energies in Africa is particularly risky. Unlike traditional energy plants, renewable energy projects are often smaller, localized and serving consumers with limited ability to pay. “ There are solutions to reverse this negative trend“, assures Guangzhe Chen, responsible within the World Bank, who pleads in particular for “ accelerating the deployment of solar mini-grids and solar home systems. »

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