STORY Aug 09, 2018

In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than half the population still lack access to electricity

Improvements in electrification have not kept up with population growth in Sub-Saharan Africa. While the percentage of people with access to electricity rose from 16 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2016, over the same period, the region’s population doubled. As a consequence, the number of people without access to electricity rose from about 430 million to 590 million.

Around 31 million of these people without electricity are in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where access rates increased from near zero in 1990 to 17 percent in 2016. This has not been enough to keep up a population that more than doubled from 35 to 79 million over the same period. Conversely in Ghana, where population also doubled over the same period, an aggressive electrification program ensured that 4 out of 5 people had access in 2016, up from 1 in 5 in 1990. As a result, the number of people without electricity has halved to around 6 million people, most of whom live in rural areas. Based on the available data South Africa is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa, apart from Ghana, where the number of people without access to electricity has decreased.