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Energy access

Achieving modern energy for all by 2030 remains possible despite pandemic-related delays

The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 7 is to “ensure access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all by 2030,” including universal access to electricity and clean cooking, a greater share of renewables in the energy mix, and a doubling of the rate of improvement of energy efficiency. The IEA is at the forefront of international efforts to assess and understand the persistent energy access deficit and chart a pathway to energy for all by 2030.

Population without access to electricity in Africa, 2000-2020

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The Covid-19 crisis is reversing progress on energy access

The worst effects of the pandemic are felt among the most vulnerable. The number of people without access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa rose in 2020 and again in 2021 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, reversing several years of steady progress. Governments attended to the immediate public health and economic crisis, installations were delayed by lockdowns, utilities and other entities that deliver access faced serious financial strains, and borrowing costs rose significantly in countries that face the highest hurdles to attract financing. In addition, a rise in poverty levels worldwide may have already made basic electricity services unaffordable for more than 100 million people who already had electricity connections in Asia and Africa, pushing these households back to relying on more polluting and inefficient sources of energy - 30 million of those concerned households are in Africa.

People gaining access to electricity and clean cooking as a result of the sustainable recovery plan

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Access to energy could improve, as a result of a sustainable recovery plan to overcome the Covid-19 crisis

Overall, the number of people without access in Africa in 2021 is estimated to have risen by 4% from before the pandemic to reach nearly 600 million. Even in countries where pandemic-related lockdowns have been lifted, governments and households have been left in a weakened financial state. The IEA designed a global sustainable recovery plan for the energy sector, to overcome the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. The sustainable recovery plan improves security and resilience in a number of ways. It stimulates investment in electricity networks and energy storage, which reduces the risk of supply disruptions; it helps to modernise grids, thus strengthening the ability to withstand and recover from shocks; and it increases affordable access to energy services, helps to integrate increasing shares of variable renewable electricity and improves system reliability. Universal access by 2030 requires hooking up 100 million people a year, and the IEA’s sustainable recovery plan could get us back on the track we were on before the pandemic.
Our work

The ISGAN TCP is a strategic platform to support high-level government attention and action for the accelerated development and deployment of smarter, cleaner electricity grids around the world. Operating as both an initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial, and as a TCP, the ISGAN TCP provides an important channel for communication of experience, trends, lessons learned, and visions in support of clean energy objectives as well as new flexible and resilient solutions for smart grids.

The Users TCP’s mission is to provide evidence from socio-technical research on the design, social acceptance and usability of clean energy technologies to inform policy making for clean, efficient and secure energy transitions. Decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation are embedding energy technologies in the heart of our communities. Communities’ response to these changes and use of energy technologies will determine the success of our energy systems. Poorly designed energy policies, and technologies that do not satisfy users’ needs, lead to ‘performance gaps’ that are both energy and economically inefficient. User-centred energy systems are therefore critical for delivering socially and politically acceptable energy transitions.