World falling far short of delivering SDG 7 for electricity access

There will still be hundreds of millions of people with no access to electricity in a decade if current trends continue, representing a failure to deliver one of the UN’s key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The warning was published yesterday in a report from five collaborating international agencies, and forecasts 650 million people to be without electricity access by 2030. Nine out of 10 will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

Counties like India, Bangladesh and Kenya are among those to have made good progress in recent years, with the number of people without electricity falling from 1.2 billion to 840 million since 2010.

However, the report explains that “more sustained and stepped-up action” is needed to deliver SDG 7, and that off-grid solutions based around renewable energy will be crucial.

"Despite the advancements towards SDG 7, progress is insufficient to meet the 2030 energy-related goals targets," said Francesco La Camera, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency, which co-produced the report.

"This is especially true for developing countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states."

The report was also co-produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the UN Statistics Division, the World Bank and the World Health Organization using comprehensive global data.

It highlights how the global electrification rate has reached 89%, with 153 million people gaining access to electricity each year over the last decade.

And in 2017 alone, at least 34 million people gained access to basic electricity services through off-grid technologies like solar lighting, solar home systems and mini grids.

The report also shows that great efforts have been made to deploy renewable energy technology for electricity generation and to improve energy efficiency across the world.

Nonetheless, access to clean cooking solutions and the use of renewable energy in heat generation and transport are still lagging far behind the SDG goals.

The researchers said further progress would require stronger political commitment, long-term energy planning, increased private financing and adequate policy and fiscal incentives. 

“The IEA will continue to cooperate with countries and organisations to make sure that successful solutions are efficiently deployed so that the sustainable energy revolution leaves no one behind,” executive director, Dr Fatih Birol, said.


Image credit | iStock

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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