Left in the Dark
By admin March 16, 2015


In the Western world we oftentimes take advantage of the unrestricted access to modern energy that illuminates every aspect of our daily lives.  We are able to cook our meals quicker than we can send an e-mail and, in the palm of our hands, have split-second access to bank accounts, social networks, and round-the-clock breaking news traveled half way across the world. But for the 1.3 billion people without access to electricity, and a billion more who have unreliable and infrequent supply, the luxury of unbridled 21st century convenience has yet to reach their finger tips, none the less their homes.

It is undeniable the crucial impact modern electricity has on human well-being and to a country’s social and economic development. Access to energy enables the efficient supply of clean water, sanitation and healthcare and, moreover, for the provision of reliable and adequate lightning, heating, cooking, mechanical power, transportation and telecommunications services.

Though despite its unquestionable utility, nearly 1.3 billion people are without access to electricity and almost 3 billion still depend on the traditional use of biomass (wood, charcoal, crop waste, dung, and coal) for cooking, according to the World Energy Outlook 2014. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated in 2012, around 4.3 million children and adults die prematurely from illnesses caused by solid fuels containing a variety of health damaging pollutants.

“For those living in extreme poverty,” WHO states, “a lack of access to energy services dramatically affects and undermines health, limits opportunities for education and development, and can reduce a family’s potential to rise up out of poverty.”


Those still left in the dark are mainly either in developing Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly 85 percent of those people without electricity reside in rural areas.  The Africa Energy Outlook spotlights these stark realities, where the Special Report finds more than 630 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (two-thirds of the population) live without electricity.  These figures reflect a major crisis continuing within our global energy system, what experts dub an “energy poverty crisis”, and something many of us in the West have thought was eradicated, or at least available in infinite supply.

The energy poverty crisis has more importantly highlighted the inefficiency within the energy sector of sub-Saharan Africa, still quite not able to meet the growing needs and aspirations of its people or economy. Ensuring access to energy is a topmost challenge for the 21st century, but it isn’t insurmountable. The Africa Energy Outlook finds that “sub-Saharan Africa’s existing energy resources are more than sufficient to meet the needs of the population,” despite that, “they are unevenly distributed and underdeveloped, a fact that speaks strongly towards the benefits of regional energy cooperation.”

The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that by 2040; one billion people will gain access to electricity – 950 million coming from sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless “population growth in the region and progress in other parts of the world means that the remaining global population without electricity access becomes increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa” with figures reaching 75 percent in 2040 compared with half today.

Action is slow, but it is moving. In 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the Sustainable Energy for All initiative (SE4ALL), aimed at three objectives to be achieved by 2030: ensuring access to modern energy services, doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency, and doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Increasing access to reliable, modern energy has climbed higher on the international development agenda, and there is hope for African countries to achieve these targets, as the continent is endowed with abundant renewable energy resources–and the investment to harness it. We must ensure more is to be done, and progress achieved, to make certain no one is left in the dark by 2030.

For more information:

The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries

Sustainable Energy for All

Here’s Why Developing Countries Will Consume 65% of the World’s Energy by 2040

Power to the people

It’s Time To Flip The Switch On Energy Poverty

The Solvable Problem of Energy Poverty


Thanks for sharing !

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