Sustainable Development Goal 7
Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
The International Energy Agency is at the forefront of global efforts to assess and analyse persistent energy access deficit, providing annual country-by-country data on access to electricity and clean cooking (SDG 7.1) and the main data source for tracking official progress towards SDG targets on renewables (SDG 7.2) and energy efficiency (SDG 7.3).
Access to electricity
Energy access policies are steadily leading to progress, as the number of people without access to electricity fell below 1 billion in 2017. India completed the electrification of all villages in early 2018, and plans to achieve universal access to electricity by the early 2020s. However despite significant steps forward in Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria, 600 million people remain without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Despite success stories, progress on providing electricity access remains uneven. Around three-quarters of the 550 million people who have gained access since 2011 are concentrated in Asia.
That said, over 900 million people have gained access to electricity in developing Asia since 2000, with 91% of the region having access to electricity in 2017 compared with just 67% in 2000. Nearly 60% of this progress has taken place in India, which continues to march steadily towards its target to deliver universal electricity access. Many other Asian countries have also seen significant progress. In Bangladesh, electricity now reaches 80% of the population, up from 20% in 2000. Meanwhile in Indonesia, the electrification rate has now reached nearly 95%.
In contrast, while the number of people without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa continues to decline, it is declining slowly. Over 200 million people have gained access since 2000, but this is less than population growth over the same period. As a result, there remain more than 600 million people without access, despite an increase in the access rate to 43%. Furthermore, recent efforts have been uneven, with around 60% of the progress seen since 2011 concentrated in just four countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Nigeria). These countries together account for only 31% of the population without electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa.
In Kenya, the access rate increased by over 65 percentage points from 2000 to 73% today, and the Last Mile Connectivity Project aims to deliver universal access by 2022. In Ethiopia, electricity now reaches 45% of the population compared with 5% in 2000. The National Electrification Program, launched in 2017, outlines a plan to reach universal access by 2025, aiming to reach 35% of the population with off-grid solutions. In South Africa, the relatively high electrification rate (84%) has been declining since 2014, in large part because electrification in urban areas has not kept pace with migration from rural areas.
Proportion of population with access to electricity, 2017  or
Outlook for electricity access
In the New Policies Scenario, the number of people without access to electricity declines to around 650 million in 2030 and then rises again to 720 million in 2040 (equal to roughly 8% of the global population). Continued progress in developing Asia sees the region reach an electrification rate of 99% by 2030, with universal access by the mid-2020s in India and Indonesia. In sub-Saharan Africa, the population with access to electricity more than doubles from today’s level, but those without access number around 600 million in the face of rapid population growth and uneven progress across the region.
In the Sustainable Development Scenario, universal access to electricity is achieved by 2030, alongside access to clean cooking, in line with SDG 7.1. Given expected strong population growth over that period, particularly in countries where many people still lack access, achieving universal access means a cumulative total of around 1.2 billion new electricity connections to 2030.
Proportion of population with access to electricity, 2000-2030
Under the New Policies Scenario, annual investment averages $30 billion from 2018-30. Cumulative additional capacity for electricity access totals 108 GW, 39% of which takes the form of grid extensions powered through centralised generation. The shift to renewables would continue, accounting for 70% of new electricity connections between now and 2030, nearly half of which are for off- and mini-grid solar PV.
In comparison, realising the Sustainable Development Scenario would require an almost doubling of investment for energy access in order to reach the necessary $51 billion of annual investment. This would be about 2% of the total annual energy sector investment in the SDS from today until 2030, with 82% of the additional investment needed in sub-Saharan Africa. This would allow to increase the global cumulative additional capacity to 183GW, in which the share of grid extension in the cumulative additional capacity would stay at 39%. Nonetheless, renewables would reach 83% of new electricity connections.
The least expensive way to achieve universal electricity access in many areas is with renewable energy sources, thanks to the declining costs of small-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) for off-grid and mini-grid electricity and the increasing use of renewables for grid-connected electricity. This is especially the case in rural areas in African countries.