Powering Africa

Together we can make a difference

Living in the Dark

Access to energy affects all aspects of life, from education and healthcare to economic growth and social development.


Around 1.2 billion people around the World live without access to grid electricity - the lifeline for delivering energy from producers to consumers. Of this number, 600 million live in Africa. 


No or inadequate access to power throughout continents such as Africa is a significant constraint to development. African governments, NGOs and the global donor community have all identified electrification as a priority. The scale of the issue is so pressing that every remaining Sustainable Development Goal can be linked back to energy.

The World Bank has identified 5 key issues in improving access to energy before 2030:

  1. Given current conditions, universal electricity access will not be met by 2030 unless urgent measures are taken. While nearly 1 billion people in Sub Saharan Africa alone may gain electricity access by 2040, due to population growth, an estimated 530 million people in the region will not have electricity access. 

  2. The energy shortfall must be rectified if the international community hopes to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, in light of the linkages between energy and other sustainable development challenges - notably, health, education, food security, gender equality, poverty reduction, and climate change.

  3. In many countries with low levels of electrification access, both grid and off-grid solutions are vital for achieving universal electricity access - but they must be supported by an enabling environment with the right policies, institutions, strategic planning, regulations, and incentives. 

  4. Against a backdrop of climate change, plummeting costs for renewable energy technologies and adequate energy efficiency measures offer a tremendous opportunity for countries to be creative about electricity access expansion - with the emphasis on “clean energy.” 

  5. Emerging and innovative energy service delivery models offer unprecedented opportunities for private sector-driven off-grid electrification and accelerating universal electricity access - but only if countries can create the necessary environment for them to be replicated and scaled up. 


View the full World Bank State of Electricity Access 2017 report here.


What is needed is a coordinated and sustainable programme to use renewable energy sources, typically solar, to accelerate the creation and use of off-grid networks. 

African manufacturing enterprises experience power outages on average 56 days per year. 

In Zambia, only 25% of the urban population and 3% of the rural population currently have access to power. 

The cost to the African economy of load-shedding is equivalent to 2.1% of GDP on average.

70% of the population of sub-Saharan Africa are without power.

Data from World Bank and Power Africa (USAID).

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