Almost 620 million Africans (60% of the entire continent’s population) live without a reliable electricity source, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB)’s 2014 Development Effectiveness Review on Energy.

In our case, Statistics South Africa revealed last year that a third of local households don’t have electricity.

Still, many of those who do have access to electricity only get 250 kilowatt-hours (KWh) per year, which is enough to power a fan, mobile phone and energy saving lights for five hours a day. This often results in people having to use highly flammable materials such as wood, coal and paraffin to do basic things such as cooking and boiling water.

Some of the worst affected countries include Uganda with less than 15% of its population have access to energy.

The review also states that Africa needs investments of more than $60 billion each year to achieve universal access to electricity by 2040.

The International Energy Agency has identified 12 African countries that are in need of major investment, among them are Nigeria, where 82 million people lack access to electricity (47% of population), and Ethiopia, where 64 million lack access (68% of population).

Technological innovations and governmental strategies for expansion are also key to providing working solutions.

“A satisfactory legal and regulatory framework, a robust financial sector and stronger institutional capacity in the sector will all help to attract the necessary private investment. Furthermore, any price subsidies must be well designed and targeted to the people who need them most,” the report states.

“Energy technologies are developing rapidly, in response to the pressures of climate change and the need for sustainability. The expansion of traditional energy grids needs to be supplemented by off-grid and micro-grid solutions. These smaller-scale technologies, using green sources such as wind and solar power, will be key to meeting Africa’s energy needs, particularly in remote areas.”

Tapping into Africa’s clean energy as one of the biggest resources is the future of electricity generation, the bank says.

“Within 20 years, renewables are expected to account for 40% of total energy generation in Africa. Clean energy solutions involve high initial capital costs, but are cost-effective over the longer term. Innovative, small-scale and off-grid clean energy technologies will play a key role in bringing power to remote areas.”

The AfDB says it’s placed Africa’s energy problem at the heart of its portfolio, having invested over $13 billion in the energy sector, to boost generation capacity and rural electrification and helping countries and their governments build sustainable energy sectors as well as to develop public‑private partnerships for power infrastructure and access sources of climate change finance.

You can read more on how these goals can be achieved and the impact no access to electricity is currently having on our continent on the AfDB website.

[SoImage – Shutterstock]