Three years ago, the African Development Bank launched an initiative to speed up the supply of electricity in Africa. Launching the New Deal on Energy for Africa, the bank’s president, Akinwumi Adesina, remarked: “Africa is tired of being in the dark.”
Other high-profile initiatives — including Power Africa and Sustainable Energy for All — have also prioritised electricity for Africans.
But on-the-ground observation and interviews throughout Africa suggest that the United Nations’ development goal of providing “access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all” remains a distant dream for many.
The largest decline in reliable electricity supply between 2014/2015 and 2016/2018 occurred in South Africa (-21 points)
Survey teams from the African research network Afrobarometer, asked people in 34 countries on the continent about access to electricity, and recorded the presence of an accessible grid. They found that expansion of national electric grids appeared to have largely stalled in recent years. And even in areas where an electric grid was accessible, service often remained unreliable.
About four in 10 Africans (42%) lack an electricity connection in their homes. This is either because they are in zones not served by an electric grid or because they are not connected to an existing grid. In 16 countries, more than half of respondents had no electricity connection. This included more than three quarters of citizens in Burkina Faso (81%), Uganda (80%), Liberia (78%) and Madagascar (76%).
According to the research, Zimbabwe is one of the Countries that has improved in reliable electricity supply with (+18 points) together with Sierra Leone (+16), Botswana (+14), eSwatini (+13), Togo (+12) and Tanzania (+11).