How is Africa doing in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal #7?

The Global Goals for Sustainable Development or Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), are a collection of 17 goals-targets, accompanied by 169 indicators that aim to reel out hot issues that plague the world by 2030. SDGs are the offspring of the Millennium Development Goals, as they have been introduced in 2000, but with a greater application spectrum. Particularly, the seventh SDG indicates that by 2030 energy inclusion has to be achieved. This goal is further divided in three main targets.

  • By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services.
  • By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.
  • By 2030, double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.

But how are  African countries doing in achieving this global goal? In fact, some countries are doing better than others in this respect. But as a whole, there is still long way to go. As can be seen in Figure.1, the SDGs dashboard for sub-Saharan Africa, is mostly red in every field, including the SDG 7. In total progress of SDG 7, different regions of Africa score different results.

Figure.1 SDGs Dashboard for sub-Saharan Africa [SDGs Index and Dashboards report, 2017]

As it is divided, Africa consists of the Sahel Region, West Africa, Central Africa, East Africa and Southern Africa. Among all the nations, there are several landlocked developing nations which face more problems that put a halt in their development as seen in Figure.2.

Figure.2 Landlocked Developing African Nations.

The Sahel Region nations, some of the poorest of the world, occupy the last positions on electricity access, use of non-solid fuels and CO2 emissions. Indicatively, the percentage of the total population that has access to electricity is 8% for Chad, 14.3% for Niger, 19.2% in Burkina Faso and 27.3% for Mali. Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal, are some of the West Africa nations that score higher in electricity access at approximately 60% coverage but this power production relies on carbon intense fuels which leads to more than one mega ton of CO2 released in the atmosphere, for each TWh produced. The remaining regions follow the same pattern. Low percentage of population with access to electricity and vast amounts of CO2 emissions. Only South Africa and Mauritius managed to escape this vice, with more than 86% power coverage for the first and 99.7 for the later. The renewable energy output though, as a percentage of the total energy output is only 2% in South Africa while Mauritius approaches the African median of 22%.

Figure.3 Renewable Energy Output as a percentage of the total.

This leaves South Africa far from achieving the Global Goal for Sustainable Development #7 and creates a vulnerable environment for their citizens. Gabon, Botswana and South Africa are among the countries that provide more than half of their population with access to non-solid fuels for cooking. Lately, large pilot projects pop-up through Africa aiming to increase the percentage of coverage. The Cameroonian government led an initiative for LPG scale-up that targets to cover 58% of the population by 2030 with access to clean cooking fuels. Ghana’s LPG program scale up, targets rural communities nationwide and has already provided clean cooking fuels to 149000 people. Other alike projects using ethanol or biogas exist in Nigeria, Kenya and Tanzania.

Some of the countries that are still kept in the dark are the landlocked developing countries. Despite being located in different regions of Africa, they face common problems, due to their geospatial position. Poor infrastructure, low trade capabilities and conflicts have dragged them to poverty. Those countries score low in electricity access ranking with only Botswana exceeding 50% coverage.


Figure.4 Access to electricity as a percentage of population for landlocked developing countries in Africa.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. The constantly falling prices of PV panels installations combining with their increasing power production, opens the road for greater investments in the sector as seen in figure 5 from International Renewable Energy Agency.

Figure.5 Declining prices of cost per Watt from PV module.

Solar energy reaches 2000 kWh/m2 per year in some regions. This amount is able to cover all the current needs of the populations and is sufficient to also cover the expected growth on energy demand. Figure.6 demonstrates data that present the potential for energy growth in African countries. Through investments in innovative solar mini-grid solutions, rural populations would step out of darkness and they, as nations, would be able to reach the SD Goal #7.

Figure.6 Global Horizontal Irradiation in Africa.


This article was originally published on the Renewable Energy World Magazine blog.

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