- Access: On average across 34 countries, about two-thirds (68%) of Africans live in areas served by an electric grid.
- Connection: Fewer than six in 10 African households (57%) are actually connected to an electric grid. Citizens in Tunisia (99%), Mauritius (99%), and Morocco (98%) enjoy nearly universal coverage, but fewer than one in four households in Malawi (14%), Burkina Faso (22%), and Niger (24%) are connected.
- Reliability: Fewer than half (43%) of Africans enjoy a supply of electricity that works “most” or “all” of the time. On average across 31 countries surveyed consistently since 2014/2015, this proportion has increased by just 3 percentage points.
- Priority and government performance: The provision of electricity ranks 10th among the most important problems that Africans want their government to address. Citizens lacking reliable electricity are more likely to consider this a top-priority problem.
- Alternative sources of electricity: Almost one-fourth (23%) of Africans use sources of electricity other than the national grid, including 16% who rely exclusively on other sources.
Electricity is a basic prerequisite for human development. The United Nations (UN) highlight “access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all” as its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) No. 7 (United Nations Development Programme, 2019). Electrification powers the provision of resources for economic transformation and improved living conditions, especially for poor people (Blimpo & Cosgrove-Davies, 2019).
Globally, access to electricity improved significantly between 2000 and 2019, expanding coverage from 79% of the population to 90%. In sub-Saharan Africa,
where basic electricity infrastructure is particularly weak, access improved from 26% to 47% over the same period (World Bank, 2022).
But the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are reversing some of these gains. In Africa, up to 30 million people who previously enjoyed access to electricity can no longer afford it (IEA, IRENA, UNSD, World Bank, & WHO, 2021).
Afrobarometer survey findings from 34 African countries show little progress in electrification. While experiences vary by country, on average access to a power grid improved by just 4 percentage points over the past decade. And even where connections to the grid exist, unreliable supply remains a major problem.
Overall, fewer than half of Africans enjoy a dependable supply of electricity from a national grid, with rural residents and poor people at a huge disadvantage. Instead, almost a quarter of Africans rely on other sources of electricity, mainly solar panels and generators.