Across the world over 1.1 billion people are still without any form of electricity whatsoever. That means that children are being taught in dark unlit schools; citizens are walking the streets after light, raising questions of safety; and, businesses have to close early throughout the winter period as daylight runs out far too quickly.
How is it that as we progress into 2019, over 1.1 billion people in the world still have no access to electricity? That cannot be right.
And of that 1.1 billion, almost 95% of people live in Sub-Saharan Africa and the developing countries in Asia.
That being said, the electrification rate in Africa has increased since 2011, now standing at 43%, but it has struggled to keep up with the population increases found across the continent.
At the turn of the millennium Africa had over 817 million people living across the continent, but fast-forward to 2018 over 1.3 billion people now reside there. However, during the same time, only 200 million Africans were connected to the grid for the first time.
It is clear that there are significant electricity generation advances across Africa but population growth is seriously outstripping electricity generation by a very wide-margin.
There is not just a poor electricity generation rate across Africa, but there is also a disparity between African countries that are very close to universal access to power and those that are so far behind that they won’t achieve that milestone for many decades to come.
Gabon, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are all past the 90% electrification rate, whereas 15 African countries are below the 25% mark. A quarter of all those without power come from Nigeria, Angola, Sudan and Ethiopia- some of the most populous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Naturally, there are difficulties in African nations securing significant sums of money by domestic and international companies to build new and improved power plants, albeit with fossil fuels or renewable energy.
But they should not be left behind!
Every citizen of the world deserves access to electricity and the time to act is now. The only way for countries to secure quick, reliable and uninterruptible power is for governments to prioritise investment in power generation using the cheapest and most widely available technologies – whether that is hydro, gas, coal or renewables.