The World Energy Outlook (WEO) has published databases on electricity access and reliance on traditional biomass for cooking since 2002.
Here, we report where the world stands on access to modern energy, based on a comprehensive update of our electricity and traditional use of biomass databases. We use 2012 data where available or an estimate based on latest available data.
Hundreds of millions of people have attained modern energy access over the last two decades, especially in China and India. Rapid economic development in several developing countries, increasing urbanisation and ongoing energy access programmes have been important factors in this achievement.
Access to electricity
Worldwide 1.3 billion people – a population equivalent to that of the entire OECD – continue to live without access to electricity. This is equivalent to 18% of the global population and 22% of those living in developing countries. Nearly 97% of those without access to electricity live in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. The latest estimate for sub-Saharan Africa has been revised up by 22 million, illustrating how rapid population growth can continue to outpace the rate of electrification in many countries and conceal the progress that has been made. In developing Asia, the general trend shows an improving picture, but the pace varies. The largest populations without electricity are in India, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) and Indonesia.
Traditional use of solid biomass for cooking
Nearly 2.7 billion people – almost 40% of the world population and about half of those living in developing countries – rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking, an increase of 38 million compared with last year. Here, the issue is much more skewed towards developing Asia, which accounts for nearly 1.9 billion of the total. India, alone, has more than 800 million people using inefficient, polluting means for cooking – a greater number than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.