The new Global Goals for Sustainable Development include an aim not explicitly stated in the earlier Millennium Development Goals: to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

Access to energy – especially from low-polluting and sustainable sources – is recognized as a cornerstone for development, facilitating advances in poverty and hunger reduction, women’s empowerment, and the safeguarding of health.

According to World Bank data, a large number of countries have reached 100% access to electricity since 2010, including China, Iran, Egypt, Thailand and Lebanon. This takes the total number of countries in this category to 86.


Many of the countries that have made the most progress in providing access to electricity since the year 2000 are in Africa. Morocco has seen the biggest increase – 28.9 percentage points, from 71.1% in 2000 to 100% in 2012 – while Congo, Senegal, South Africa and Ghana have all seen increases of around 20 percentage points.

However, other African countries also have the furthest to go to meet the new Global Goal of securing energy access for all. The 26 countries with the lowest access to electricity – from Chad at 3.5% to Gambia with 31% – are all in Africa, with the exception of Papua New Guinea, in 11th place with 14.5%.

Here are the countries that have made the most progress since 2000:


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Have you read?
What is the future of electricity?
Renewable energy is not enough: it needs to be sustainable
Power of Africa: a picture is worth a thousand watts

Author: Sebastian Brixey-Williams is a Digital Content Producer at Formative Content.

Image: Electric pylons are pictured in Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg, March 31, 2015. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko