For use of information media - Not an official record
LDC - The least developed countries report 2017: Facts and Figures

Geneva, Switzerland, 22 November 2017

​The problem
• In the least developed countries, 577 million people, or 62 per cent of the population, do not have access to electricity.
• Of people worldwide without access to electricity, 54 per cent live in the least developed countries, a share that has almost doubled from 30 per cent in 1990.
• In the least developed countries, 82 per cent of people living in rural areas do not have access to electricity.
• Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7 (“Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”) will play a central role in achieving the other Sustainable Development Goals, and its achievement will determine the success or failure of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
• Achieving universal access to electricity by 2030 will require a 350 per cent increase in the number of people in the least developed countries gaining access each year, compared with the last decade. This is a greater expansion in electricity generation than in the period 1990–2014, and in less time.

The challenge
• Although electricity production in the least developed countries more than quadrupled in 1990–2014, with most of the increase occurring in the last decade, electricity production per capita increased by only a factor of 2.5 due to population growth.
• Both generation capacity and production have failed to keep pace with the 460 per cent increase in the number of people with access to electricity since 1991. By 2014, installed capacity per person with access was barely half the 1991 level, while electricity production per person with access was one fifth below the 1991 level.
• Industrial and commercial consumers in the least developed countries, on average, pay twice as much for electricity as their counterparts in other countries.
• Among enterprises in the least developed countries, 42 per cent report that they are constrained by the lack of access to adequate, reliable and affordable energy.
• On average, firms in the least developed countries suffer 10 power outages per month, each lasting around five hours, and this costs 7 per cent of the value of total sales.
• Reaching the minimum threshold for modern society needs in the least developed countries would require an increase in 2014 electricity generation levels by a factor of 13.5.
• Even the highest estimates of the annual energy financing needs of the least developed countries, at $40 billion, do not take into account transformational energy access.
• Several renewable technologies have benefited from significant cost reductions, due to innovation and learning effects. For example, the cost of solar photovoltaic modules has declined by 85 per cent in the last decade. Yet high upfront capital costs and challenges related to technology transfer and adaptation imply that these gains may not fully materialize in a least developed country context.
• The least developed countries traditionally display a dualistic power generation mix reliant on fossil fuels and hydroelectricity.
• The role of non-hydroelectricity renewables in grid-connected generation remains marginal, at less than 1 per cent.
• Less than 1 per cent of historical anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for by the least developed countries.
• It is estimated that attaining universal energy access by 2030 will require 571 million more people in the least developed countries to be connected to grids and 341 million more people to be connected to mini-grids; 114 million more people will require stand-alone systems.
• The deployment of mini-grids in particular need to be scaled up considerably, in order to ensure that some 35 per cent of the population of the least developed countries gains access to electricity.

International cooperation
• Half of least developed country imports of power-generating machinery and 70 per cent of electrical end-use machinery and appliances are from other developing countries.
• In 2015, 1.8 per cent of official development assistance to the least developed countries was directed to their energy sectors.
• Fulfilling internationally agreed targets would increase total official development assistance to the least developed countries fourfold.