What does Universal Energy Access need?

This article was written by Abigail Jibril

What does Universal Energy Access need?

Worldwide, there’s a keen interest in improving energy access as regards the Sustainable Development Goal 7. The United Nations SDG Goal 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy has a significant impact on the other 16 Sustainable Development Goals to develop our world.

Out of the 1 billion people worldwide, Sub-Saharan Africa has over 600 million people that are still without access to electricity. Years ago, extending the national electric grid was the most reasonable action conceivable but today, options of independent Solar Home Systems, renewable energy mini-grids (most especially solar) have come as viable options.

So what direction should current trends in this sector take?


The users of energy solutions are people or humans. Asides just providing electricity supply, consideration should be put on ‘What are the needs of the people currently? How can energy access profer a solution to these needs?” Energy access would not be appreciated where it is not needed. World Resources Institute proposes an approach to scaling electricity access that ensures that these services are appropriately matched to people’s development needs.


Universal Energy Access for all needs strong commitments, political leadership, good governance, effective policies and frameworks that encourage deployment of solutions and cost-effective investment. These will, in turn, foster healthy collaborations between the public and private sector – government, investors, private developers, public utilities. With its growing population, India is making notable progress in electrification and political will has contributed to this.

“The good news is that a convergence of political will and cost reductions is accelerating progress,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “Just look at India, which has provided electricity access to half a billion people since 2000. The government’s tremendous efforts over the last several years have put it on track to achieve one of the biggest success stories ever in electrification.”
Source: IEA

There are solutions to achieving universal energy access; it’s up to politicians to flip the switch.


You should read…

Energy Access: a tool for poverty alleviation in rural communities
At what point should deploying mini-grids be an option?
Improving Energy Access through Renewable Energy: The Way Forward


Around 84% of those without electricity access reside in rural areas. Rural projects including rural electrification are not typical investments that break even within 3-4 years.

Rural Electrification is a long term investment. Patient Capital as defined by Acumen is investment capital with a long-term investment horizon of seven to 12 years, a high tolerance for risk, and a goal of maximizing both social and financial returns. This is what rural electrification needs.

In a post titled “Climate action is an equity issue”, Sarah Butler-Sloss, Founder Director of Ashden Awards said,

To grow and scale universal energy access companies need soft, patient or concessionary capital at the right size and plenty of it.”

Olusegun also mentioned in an interview with ESI Africa that long-term concessional debt and a good mix of grant (subsidy) is required to catalyze this industry. With such intervention, he suggests that rural communities in Africa can witness a massive increase in energy access as well as the accompanying dividends of electricity.

Achieving universal energy access by 2030 is a goal! Let’s work towards it consciously!

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