Sub-Saharan Africa is lighting up Uneven progress on electrification

By Nii Ofei Daku Mante

This research paper provides a regional review of the state of electricity access in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), focusing on installed capacity, electricity generation, the growth of renewable energy, electricity consumption, government investment, public financial flows, and several major initiatives. The study contrasts electrification between 1990 and 2010 with recent efforts and identifies countries that are consistently making progress and those that lag. The analyses show signs of progress on scaling up SSA power infrastructure and increasing electricity access, particularly in the Eastern and Western sub-regions. The installed generation capacity expanded at an average rate of 2.43 GW/year between 2005 and 2015. Renewable energy is growing, particularly solar, wind, and geothermal; about 9.7 GW of renewable energy capacity was installed between 2010 and 2016. Over this period, the net electricity generation in SSA increased at 9.1 TWh/year, more than double the historical average growth of 4.02 TWh/year (1990–2010). In general, the study found that rates of electrification across the entire region are more than twice the historical rates, and an average of at least 26 million people are now gaining access to electricity yearly. Nevertheless, progress is uneven across SSA. As of 2016, almost half of the population without electricity access live in Nigeria, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. Quantitative analysis suggests that about 70 million people in SSA would have to gain access every year from 2017 to achieve universal access by 2030. Overall, SSA countries with national programs on energy access supported by policy/regulatory framework and infrastructure investment are making progress.


Mante, N. O. D. (2018). Sub-Saharan Africa is lighting up: Uneven progress on electrification. (RTI Press Publication No. OP-0056-1811). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press.

© 2019 RTI International. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Nii Ofei Daku ManteOfei D. Mante, PhD, is a research chemical engineer in the Center of Technology for Energy, Environment & Engineering at RTI International.

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