The Africa Energy Outlook, a Special Report in the 2014 World Energy Outlook series, shows that more than 620 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (two-thirds of the population) live without electricity, and nearly 730 million people rely on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking. The use of solid biomass (mainly fuelwood and charcoal) outweighs that of all other fuels combined, and average electricity consumption per capita is not enough to power a single 50-watt light bulb continuously.
In our projections, one billion people gain access to electricity in Africa by 2040, 950 million of them in sub-Saharan Africa; but population growth in sub-Saharan Africa and progress in other parts of the world means that the remaining global population without electricity access becomes increasingly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa – this figure reaches 75% in 2040, compared with half today. This projection indicates that current efforts to tackle this problem are set to fall well short of the goal of achieving universal access by 2030, the target of the Sustainable Energy for All initiative. Instead, some half a billion people in sub-Saharan Africa are set to remain without electricity by this date, leaving a sombre gap in the global energy system.
Figure 1: Population without access to electricity by sub-region in sub-Saharan Africa in the New Policies Scenario
Demand for energy services by households across sub-Saharan Africa continues to rise along with incomes, but the mix of fuels used is relatively slow to change. Solid biomass still accounts for half of total final consumption in sub-Saharan Africa in 2040, this figure rising to almost 60% if South Africa is excluded. Gaining access to clean cooking facilities encompasses not only switching to alternative fuels, but also access to improved biomass cookstoves (fired with fuelwood, charcoal or pellets) that are more efficient and reduce household air pollution. Together, fuel switching and the spread of improved cookstoves lead to a decrease in the number of people in sub-Saharan Africa without access to clean cooking to 650 million in 2040 – a 10% decline in relation to the figure for 2012. Within the overall context of a rising population, this means, more positively, that around 1.1 billion people do have access to clean cooking facilities in 2040, almost two-thirds of them living in urban areas.
Figure 2: Population with and without electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa in the New Policies Scenario