Poor electricity access is one of the biggest developmental challenges facing many African countries. Across the continent, millions of people live in perpetual darkness, unable to get access to electricity for essential household use such as lighting, charging phones and laptops, etc.
Factors responsible for poor energy access in Africa
In their book The Challenge of Energy Access in Africa, authors Manfred Hafner, Simone Tagliapietra and Lucia de Strasser identified four major problems militating against energy access on the continent:
Decades of neglect in building up country-wide infrastructure
A lack of international investment
Poor regulatory frameworks and
Difficulty surrounding bankability of power projects.
Can the problem ever be solved?
In a 2021 interview with Business Insider Africa, the CEO of Zola Electric, Bill Lenihan, was asked if Africa’s energy access problem can ever be solved. This is what he had to say:
“What I do know is that it can definitely be improved upon. I believe we can also solve the affordability problem with the right energy ecosystem. And the right energy ecosystem is not a centralized ecosystem. It’s not the grid kind of ecosystem. The grid has had its chance to solve this problem for a hundred years and it has not; will not. In my opinion, distributed, digital, and renewable energy will solve that affordability problem.”
How much is really needed to considerably electrify Africa?
A recent report by Wood Mackenzie Ltd said Sub-Saharan African countries would need to invest as much as $350 billion between now and 2030, to be able to considerably improve electricity generation/distribution in the region.
In the meantime, it may interest you to know that the electricity access problem in Africa is not completely hopeless. As a matter of fact, some countries (especially those in North Africa) are doing fairly well. Others in Sub Saharan Africa, such as South Africa and Gabon, have also shown prospects.
Soon, we shall focus on the list of 20 African countries with the best electricity access in Africa. But first, it’s imperative to define the concept “electricity access”, for the sake of clarity.
What is electricity access?
According to the World Bank, electricity access has to do with the percentage of people, within a given location or country, who have stable access to electricity. Data used for determining energy access are collected from different sources, including industry sources and household surveys.
20 African countries with the best electricity access
It’s important to stress that this list is courtesy of Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report. The source is a global dashboard dedicated to registering progress on energy access across Africa and elsewhere, as part of the targets for the Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7). The dashboard is a collaborative initiative by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the World Bank and other partners.
However, it should be noted that the dashboard was last updated in 2019. Therefore, we have used the available stats for 2019 in this report.
See the list below.
Egypt: 100% energy access.
Algeria: 100% energy access.
Morocco: 100% energy access.
Tunisia: 100% energy access.
Gabon: 91% energy access.
South Africa: 85% energy access.
Ghana: 84% energy access.
Botswana: 70% energy access.
Kenya: 70% energy access.
Senegal: 70% energy access.
Libya: 69% energy access.
Ivory Coast: 69% energy access.
Equatorial Guinea: 67% energy access.
Cameroon: 63% energy access.
Nigeria: 55% energy access.
Namibia: 55% energy access.
Sudan: 54% energy access.
Eritrea: 50% energy access.
Ethiopia: 48% energy access.
Congo: 48% energy access.