POST Online Media Lite Edition


IEA: 18% of global population lack access to electricity

Staff writer |
This year marks the start of the United Nations Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), the international effort to bring modern and sustainable energy to everyone on the planet.

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IEA data collected over more than a decade have been vital to the push already, establishing the size of the problem and helping determine the resources necessary to allow every woman, man and child to benefit from the security and convenience that most already take for granted.

In the latest edition of its annual publication, World Energy Outlook (WEO), the IEA provides the most recent estimate: nearly 1.3 billion people, or 18% of the world population, lacked access to electricity in 2011. While the number of those without electricity declined by 9 million from the previous year, the global population increased by about 76 million in 2011, according to the United Nations estimates, to top 7 billion.

And the modest decline in those lacking electricity obscured the fact that energy poverty either stagnated or worsened in some countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, as population growth outpaced energy access efforts.

More than 95% of people without access to electricity live in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asia. Over two-thirds of the population in sub-Saharan Africa had no modern energy in 2011, and the number of people without electricity access there will soon overtake the total in developing Asia. Among the far more numerous people in developing Asia, 17% did not have access to electricity in 2011.

As a special focus within its World Energy Outlook 2014 series, the IEA is conducting its most comprehensive analytical study to date of the energy outlook for Africa. Among other topics, the report will examine which policies, investments and infrastructure are required to expand access to reliable and affordable electricity supply on the continent.

The new push by the United Nations for universal access is part of the growing recognition, highlighted in the WEO, that modern energy is crucial to achieving a range of social and economic goals relating to poverty, health, education, equality and environmental sustainability.

About 80 developing countries have signed up to the SE4All initiative, including many with the largest populations of those lacking access to modern energy. In addition, IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven is among the leaders who serve on the Advisory Board to the SE4All initiative.