Access to energy

Globally, nearly 1 billion people – 1 out of 7 – do not have access to electricity to light their homes, refrigerate their food, or keep cool in rising temperatures. Around 3 billion people have to rely on dirty biomass fuels such as charcoal, coal and animal waste for cooking. These figures are unacceptable.

In Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 20 countries have the largest gaps in electricity and clean cooking access. These regions are also represented in the 80 percent of countries worldwide that do not have access to electricity. Without access to clean, modern energy, it is impossible to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to reduce poverty, broaden education and improve public health. For example, replacing outdated stoves and open fires would save the lives of 800,000 children who die each year from exposure to indoor air pollution. That is why SDG7 calls for action to close these energy gaps by 2030.

Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) research shows that investment for better electricity access falls far short of the spending needed to deliver universal access by 2030. Our Energizing Finance report shows that financial commitments for electricity access in the 20 researched countries averaged about $19.4 billion a year. That’s less than half the estimated $45 billion of annual investments needed to achieve universal electricity access. Overall spending on clean cooking access is a greater challenge – with annual spending in the 20 countries averaging just $32 million a year – the overall investment needed is more than $4 billion a year.

Our interventions

Our work supports new commercial approaches to closing energy access gaps – encouraging and activating markets, allowing the private sector to deliver energy and clean-cooking services. We also encourage governments and stakeholders – such as sponsors, banks and investors – to reach people in places where it’s not cost-effective for commercial enterprises to operate. This requires use of public funds, inclusive national planning and strategic finance flows to close the affordability gap.

SEforALL accelerates action through a number of intervention projects, including: Cooling for All and Electricity for All in Africa focus on specific communities where small changes can make big differences; Sustainable Energy Finance and Shifting Financial Flows widen the search for innovative financial solutions; Big Markets for Clean Fuels and Energy and Transport examine target markets and infrastructures to shift tactics and achieve results to ensure that no one misses out on the wider opportunities presented by better access to affordable energy.

High-impact countries (HICs)

Around 80% of the global energy deficit is found in around 20 HICs (view them on our heatmap), and a different group of about 20 countries for clean cooking technologies (view the heatmap). SEforALL concentrates our efforts on these countries so we can make a significant contribution to achieving SDG7 and make the greatest difference to people's lives.