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Global energy access gap widens: 685m without electricity

A global energy report reveals an increase in the number of people without electricity access and those relying on harmful cooking fuels

In 2022, 685 million individuals lacked electricity access, with the majority concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa due to rapid population growth outpacing new connections.

A consortium of international organisations, including the IEA, IRENA, UNSD, World Bank and WHO, has released a sobering report indicating a deepening energy access disparity worldwide.

The study suggests that nearly 2.1 billion people still rely on polluting cooking fuels globally, a figure that has remained stagnant despite global efforts.

The report underscores the urgent need for accelerated investment in renewable energy infrastructure and enhanced policy measures to ensure equitable energy access and mitigate health and environmental risks associated with energy poverty.

Fatih Birol, Executive Director, International Energy Agency, said: “To achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7, we will need much more investment in emerging and developing economies to expand access to electricity and to clean cooking technologies and fuels.

“Today, only a fraction of total energy investment is going to the countries where the problems of electricity access and clean cooking are critical, not least in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Guangzhe Chen, Vice President for Infrastructure, World Bank, said: “Electricity access is essential for development, and we need to work extra hard for the 685 million people deprived of this resource – ten million more than the year before.

“There are solutions to reverse this negative trend, including accelerating the deployment of solar mini grids and solar home systems.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization, commented: “Transitioning more rapidly to clean energy and cooking technologies is essential for protecting the health of the 2.1 billion people without access, and the health of the planet on which all life depends.”

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