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Access to Electricity

Energy alone is not sufficient for creating the conditions for economic growth, but it is certainly necessary. It is impossible to operate a factory, run a shop, grow crops or deliver goods to consumers without using some form of energy. Access to electricity is particularly crucial to human development as electricity is, in practice, indispensable for certain basic activities, such as lighting, refrigeration and the running of household appliances, and cannot easily be replaced by other forms of energy. Individuals’ access to electricity is one of the most clear and un-distorted indication of a country’s energy poverty status.

Electricity access is increasingly at the forefront of governments’ preoccupations, especially in the poorest countries. As a consequence, a lot of rural electrification programs and national electrification agencies have been created in these countries to monitor more accurately the needs and the status of rural development and electrification. We have incorporated the latest available information to give the most accurate picture to date of the electricity access in the world, by region and by country.

Electricity access Today – WEO-2011 new Electricity access Database (2009 data country-by-country)

In a continuing effort to improve our understanding of the electrification process, we have updated, for the fifth time, the database on electrification rates that we first built for WEO-2002. The database shows detailed data on urban and rural electrification collected from industry, national surveys and international sources. Based on this updated analysis, we estimate that in 2009 the number of people without access to electricity was 1.3 billion or almost 20% of the world’s population.

Several major revisions have been made, notably for Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Overall electrification rates have increased due to better data and more recent census and rural surveys. Especially for India, Bangladesh and Pakistan much more census data than in previous years was available. The major revision since 2009 electricity access database was published last year occurs in India. The most recent data in India shows that expenditure on electricity was reported by 67% of the rural population and 94% of the urban population in 2009 (Government of India, 2011), up from 56% and 93% respectively when surveyed in 2006 (Government of India, 2008).

Table 1: Electricity access in 2009 - Regional aggregates
  Population without electricity

Electrification rate

electrification rate
electrification rate
Africa 587 41.8 68.8 25.0
   North Africa 2 99.0 99.6 98.4
   Sub-Saharan Africa 585 30.5 59.9 14.2
Developing Asia 675 81.0 94.0 73.2
   China & East Asia 182 90.8 96.4 86.4
   South Asia 493 68.5 89.5 59.9
   Latin America 31 93.2 98.8 73.6
   Middle East 21 89.0 98.5 71.8
Developing countries 1,314 74.7 90.6 63.2
World* 1,317 80.5 93.7 68.0

* World total includes OECD and Eastern Europe / Eurasia

Source: WEO-2011