One of the most serious developmental issues that many African countries face is a lack of access to energy. Millions of people across Africa live in permanent darkness, unable to get energy for basic household needs such as lighting, charging phones and laptops, and so on.
Manfred Hafner, Simone Tagliapietra, and Lucia de Strasser identified four major barriers to energy access in Africa in their book “The Challenge of Energy Access in Africa,” which include, decades of neglect in building up country-wide infrastructure, a lack of international investment, poor regulatory frameworks, and difficulty surrounding power project bankability.
Bill Lenihan, the CEO of Zola Electric, was questioned in a 2021 interview with Business Insider Africa if Africa’s energy access crisis could ever be solved. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“What I do know is that it can definitely be improved upon. I believe we can also solve the affordability problem with the right energy ecosystem. And the right energy ecosystem is not a centralised ecosystem. It’s not the grid kind of ecosystem. The grid has had its chance to solve this problem for a hundred years and it has not; will not. In my opinion, distributed, digital and renewable energy will solve that affordability problem.”
According to a recent assessment by Wood Mackenzie Ltd, Sub-Saharan African governments will need to invest $350 billion between now and 2030 to significantly increase power generation and distribution in the region.
Meanwhile, you might be interested to know that Africa’s electrical access situation isn’t absolutely hopeless. Indeed, some countries (particularly those in North Africa) are doing rather well. Other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as South Africa and Gabon, have shown promise.
We’ll be focusing on the top 20 African countries with the best energy availability in the near future. But, for the sake of clarity, it’s necessary to define the term “electrical access.”
According to the World Bank, electricity access refers to the percentage of individuals who have consistent access to electricity in a certain location or country. Data for determining energy access is gathered from a variety of sources, including industry and government sources.
It’s important to stress that this list is courtesy of Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report. The source is a global dashboard dedicated to registering progress on energy access across Africa and elsewhere, as part of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7). The dashboard is a collaborative initiative by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank and other partners.
However, it should be noted that the dashboard was last updated in 2019. Therefore, we have used the available stats for 2019 in this report.
See the list below.
- Egypt: 100% energy access.
- Algeria: 100% energy access.
- Morocco: 100% energy access.
- Tunisia: 100% energy access.
- Gabon: 91% energy access.
- South Africa: 85% energy access.
- Ghana: 84% energy access.
- Botswana: 70% energy access.
- Kenya: 70% energy access.
- Senegal: 70% energy access.
- Libya: 69% energy access.
- Ivory Coast: 69% energy access.
- Equatorial Guinea: 67% energy access.
- Cameroon: 63% energy access.
- Nigeria: 55% energy access.
- Namibia: 55% energy access.
- Sudan: 54% energy access.
- Eritrea: 50% energy access.
- Ethiopia: 48% energy access.
- Congo: 48% energy access.
BUSINESS INSIDER AFRICA