Commodities at a glance: Special issue on access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa

Access to energy is defined in many ways, but most definitions include having reliable and affordable access to both cooking facilities and electricity that can be scaled up over time.

Access to a reliable and quality energy supply is vital to the economic development of any country (Bhatia and Angelou, 2015). It drives industrialization, boosts productivity and economic growth, spurs human development, and is crucial to achieve almost all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Globally, 733 million people, or about 9.1 per cent of the world’s population, lack access to electricity (World Bank, 2020a). In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 600 million people, or approximately 53 per cent of the region’s population, live without access to electricity. Hundreds of millions more have only limited or unreliable electricity.

This report aims to provide information on the state of energy access in sub-Saharan Africa and identify policies that may contribute to enhancing access to modern energy services there while moving towards a successful transition to zero-emission fuels in a bid to align with global efforts to mitigate climate change.

This report has five chapters following this introductory chapter.

Chapter 2 examines the evolution of energy trends and their influence on the composition of the energy mix. It also highlights the advantages and disadvantages of renewable and non-renewable energy resources.

Chapter 3 discusses access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa, barriers to access, and the progress made between 2000 and 2020 in improving access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, as well as to electricity.

Chapter 4 examines the prospects for improving access to clean cooking fuels and electricity using different energy resources. It also looks at different strategies that can be employed to improve access to energy.

Chapter 5 explores financing options to develop the production capacity needed to boost energy supply.

The final chapter highlights key policy actions to improve access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa.

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