Energy Transition

Only 40% of Africans enjoy a reliable electricity supply, report finds

A man works at his desk in rural Nigeria.

New research has highlighted the work needed to provide electricity for all. Image: REUTERS

Yomi Kazeem
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Energy Transition?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Energy Transition is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Energy Transition

Africa’s electricity problems continue to limit the continent with only 40% of Africans enjoying reliable power supply, claims a new report.

Access—defined as living within the range of an electrical grid—remains a major mitigating factor among some countries. While the average percentage for access to electric grids across the continent stands at 66% for the 36 African countries surveyed by Afrobarometer, 13 countries still have 50% or less of their populations with any access to electricity.

African countries with a majority living without electricity access.
Image: Quartz

As expected, the continent’s bigger economies such as Nigeria (90%) and South Africa (95%) recorded high percentages for access to grids. Only two countries, Mauritius and Egypt, recorded 100% access. Regionally, North and East Africa stand out albeit for contrasting reasons. North Africa enjoys the continent’s highest rates for access to electricity while East Africa lags behind the rest of the continent.

North Africa has the highest rate of access to electricity in Africa.
Image: Quartz

While access to electricity grids is one thing, being connected is quite another. In the same vein, being connected to the grids is also not a guarantee of reliable power supply. Predictably, countries like Mauritius with high connection rates show high levels of reliable supply while Burundi with low connection rates show low levels of reliable supply. But it is not entirely straightforward across the board.

For example, Nigeria has an access rate of 90% and a connection rate of 96% but a low reliable power supply rate of only 18%. Similarly, Tanzania with only 23% of the population connected to electric grids, they enjoy a high 54% of reliable power supply. This disparity is perhaps the single biggest evidence that while the continent might share similar problems, a one-size-fits-all solution will not provide remedy.

The disparity in connections and reliable power supply in Africa.
Image: Quartz

There is an upside to the huge gap in electricity infrastructure as it is opening up opportunities and rams home the need for affordable renewable energy. For example, East Africa’s electricity shortfalls are resulting in an increased presence of alternatives as more people now turn to solar technology in the region. Start-ups like M-Kopa, with low-cost pay-as-you-go solar power solutions, now provide some viable options for Africans without access to grids or reliable power supply. Backed by $19 million in funding, M-Kopa plans to provide power to a million homes on the continent by 2017. M-Kopa is not a sole example. Renewable energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa have attracted over $25 billion in investment and the African Union has also announced plans to invest $20 billion to develop renewable energy on the continent.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Energy TransitionGeographies in Depth
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

AI and energy: Will AI help reduce emissions or increase demand? Here's what to know

Eleni Kemene, Bart Valkhof and Thapelo Tladi

July 22, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum