Electricity Access Gap: Major Challenge in Achieving SDGs

JEAS-Blog (2023.4.1)

Electricity Access Gap: Major Challenge in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Tehreem Malik 1,*, Muhammad Khubaib Jan 1
1 Department of Electrical Engineering, Institute of Southern Punjab, Multan, Pakistan *tehreem.malik.hma@gmail.com

Energy is key to nearly every major opportunity and challenge we are facing today. It powers computers, communications, cutting-edge medical equipment, transportation, agriculture, technology, and much more. Continuous, reliable and affordable energy supply can drive economic productivity and industrial growth and is key to success for any modern economy

However, even today, there is a huge gap in electricity access, i.e., more than 750 million (roughly 9.5 % of the world population) are deprived of this basic human need. It is important to mention that this figure is without considering the minimum threshold metric for ‘reasonable reliability’. If the minimum threshold metric for ‘reasonable reliability is applied, the estimated number of people without access to reliable electricity can reach 3.5 billion (roughly 45% of the global population).

Electricity Access Gap & Sustainable Development Goals Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the UN’s blueprint for a more sustainable future for all by 2030. SDG-7: Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. SDG 7 has numerous associations and synergies with other SDGs, especially SDG 1 (No Poverty), SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 15 (Partnerships for the Goals). Around 60% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are from energy supply.

Fig. Interactions between Sustainable Development Goals: the role of environment–human linkages (Scharlemann et al., 2020)

Energy demand dependence on SDGs (Santika et al., 2019)

Impact of Electricity Access Gap on Human Life Without electricity, it can be challenging to complete basic tasks (cooking and cleaning). This lack of electricity poses significant problems and affects human life from healthcare to the environment, economics to education, access to information, connectivity, and other essential services.

  • Economic Disadvantages: Electricity supply is vital for economic activities, population deprived of electricity can face significant economic disadvantages by reducing their earning potential and economic opportunities.  
  • Educational Limitations: Modern education heavily rely on electricity, therefore, its access is critical for education.
  • Environmental Impact: Lack of electricity access can have a significant environmental impact, mainly due to opting for traditional energy sources (wood and fossil fuels etc). However, the condition can be reversed if electricity itself is produced by using fossil fuels.
  • Health Risks: People deprived of electricity can have serious significant health risks. Consumption of fossil fuels to meet energy requirements for domestic and industrial purposes can have serious (long-term as well as short-term) health consequences. Even lifesaving procedures and other essential medical services need a reliable supply of electricity.
  • Social Inequities: Electricity access gap often causes s social inequities. Generally, people without electricity access are the poorest and most vulnerable segments of the population.

Below is the list of selected countries with their Electricity Access Gap (Data source: World of Statistics, at stats_feeds). First Thirteen countries listed below are from Africa, followed by Asian countries, indicating regional differences in energy poverty. Most of the countries, with higher electricity access gaps, have the lowest levels of electricity access in their rural areas.

S. No. Country Country Electricity Access Gap
(% of National Population)
1 🇸🇸 South Sudan 92.8
2 🇹🇩 Chad 88.9
3 🇧🇮 Burundi 88.3
4 🇲🇼 Malawi 85.1
5 🇨🇫 Central African Republic 84.5
6 🇧🇫 Burkina Faso 81.0
7 🇨🇩 Congo 80.9
8 🇳🇪 Niger 80.7
9 🇲🇬 Madagascar 66.3
10 🇭🇹 Haiti 53.1
11 🇪🇹 Ethiopia 48.9
12 🇳🇬 Nigeria 44.6
13 🇰🇪 Kenya 28.6
14 🇵🇰 Pakistan 24.6
15 🇳🇵 Nepal 10.1
16 🇮🇩 Indonesia 3.1
17 🇮🇳 India 1.0
18 🇲🇽 Mexico 0.6
19 🇧🇷 Brazil 0.0
20 🇨🇦 Canada 0.0
21 🇨🇳 China 0.0
22 🇨🇺 Cuba 0.0
23 🇯🇵 Japan 0.0
24 🇷🇺 Russia 0.0
25 🇬🇧 UK 0.0
26 🇺🇸 USA 0.0

Global average Electricity Access Gap is 9.6%. Electricity access gap is mainly concentrated in the rural areas of Africa, Asia, Latin America where electricity access is challenging and expensive. Moreover, there are significant disparities in the electricity access gap between rural and urban areas, It is important to note that the key progress indicator against SDG7 is the electricity access rate which counts the number of people with basic household electricity. Unreliable power supply may cause significant constraints, making power-linked activities highly volatile. 

However, indicators of reliability of electricity supply are lacking. Recently Ayaburi et al., (2020) introduced reliability indicators

Figure: Countries with Unreliable and Reliable Electricity supply (Source https://www.energyforgrowth.org/). Figure: Countries with Unreliable and Reliable Electricity Supply (Source https://www.energyforgrowth.org/).


Addressing the issue of the electricity access gap is essential for achieving Sustainable Development Goals. Policymakers need to measure the electricity access gap after incorporating reliability and performance indicators for the power sector. Efforts are required to improve tracking and investment in energy systems to ensure a reliable and cost-effective power industry. Expansion and upgradation of energy services in developing countries with a focus on their rural areas can reduce regional disparities in energy access. Improved policies and strategies can help to reduce this gap and ensure Access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all and achieving other SDGs.

Cite this Blog as:

Malik, T. and M.K. Jan. 2023. Electricity Access Gap: Major Challenge in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). JEAS-Blog. 2023(4): 1. Agropublishers, Multan, Pakistan. 

Copyright © Malik and Jan, 2023  This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium provided the original author and source are appropriately cited and credited.


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