Global perspective

Let’s widen our horizons by taking a look at the world in which 840 million people still live without electricity. Despite these vast numbers, they are an improvement on the 1 billion without power in 2016, and 1.2 billion in 2010. But by 2030, 650 million people will still be left without access to electricity, nine tenths of whom will be living in sub-Saharan Africa.

A high level report also concluded that ensuring affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030 remains possible but will require more sustained efforts in particularly within some of the world’s poorest populations.

The report Tracking Sustainable Development Goals 7 was produced by the International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency, UN Statistics Division, World Bank and the World Health Organisation.

The Energy Progress Report also shows that great efforts have been made to deploy renewable energy technology for electricity generation and account for 17.5 per cent of global total energy consumption in 2016 versus 16.6 per cent in 2010.

However renewables have made less headway into energy consumption for heat and transport, and a substantial further increase of renewable energy is needed for energy systems to become affordable, reliable and sustainable, focusing on modern uses. 

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are key to sustainable development, enabling energy access, spurring economic growth, creating employment and improving health,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

“We can extend the energy transition to all countries and ensure that the benefits reach the most vulnerable communities. Access to electricity remains the biggest challenge in the most remote areas globally and in sub-Saharan Africa where 573 million people still live in the dark. To connect the poorest and hardest to reach households, off-grid solutions, including solar lighting, solar home systems, and increasingly mini grids, will be crucial.

We still have a great deal of work to do as much of this population lives in the poorest countries and most remote locations, he said.

Over the past five years the World Bank has committed $5 billion to access programs, whether it is on- or off-grid.

“We will continue to scale up,” said Riccardo Puliti, Senior Director for Energy and Extractives at the World Bank. 

“The successes in several countries in Africa and Asia show the way. This report demonstrates the importance of sound planning, integrating grid and off-grid approaches, a focus on affordability and reliability.”