Rising electricity deficit seen threatening SDGs
The World Bank is warning that current conditions is indicating that universal electricity access may not be met by 2030, posing a threat to achieving the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), unless urgent measures are taken to improve access to over one billion across the world without electricity.
In the institution’s latest State of Electricity Access Report published recently, universal energy access, the Goal 7 of the Sustainable Development goals is linked to the rest of the 16 goals.
“For the international community, there is broad agreement that access to modern energy services is a necessary pre-requisite for alleviating poverty and boosting shared prosperity. Without energy, it is challenging, if not impossible, to promote economic growth, overcome poverty, expand employment, and support human development,” says the report.
The report further said that sustainable energy is the seventh goal of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with a call to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” Its five targets indicate areas where policies can be designed—such as boosting the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix and doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency.
“Furthermore, energy can contribute to achieving the other 16 SDGs. A review of all SDG targets indicates that energy is interconnected with 125 (74 percent) out of the 169 targets, making it crucial for all societies to recognize the key inter-linkages of energy and the wider development agenda.
“Thus, planning for universal access to modern energy services should be an integral part of national planning efforts to achieve the SDGs. Studies of power outages indicate that lack of energy does lead to a loss of output at a firm level—for example, in 2013, the World Bank Enterprise Surveys showed that power outages in Tanzania cost businesses about 15 percent of annual sales—and greater availability of energy has been shown to lead to more income, jobs, and educational benefits at the individual household level.
“In addition, lack of access to modern energy (especially grid electricity) acts as a constraint on economic growth, while access to modern energy services can stimulate growth and employment opportunities,” says the report.
According to an International Energy Association report in 2014, 1.06 billion people still lived without access to electricity—about 15 percent of the global population— and about 3.04 billion still relied on solid fuels and kerosene for cooking and heating.
World Bank and IEA say that electricity access deficit is overwhelmingly concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa (62.5 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa population ) and South Asia (20 percent), followed by East Asia and the Pacific (3.5 percent), and Latin America (3 percent) and the Middle East and North Africa (3 percent).
In Sub-Saharan Africa, 609 million people (6 out of 10) do not have access to electricity, and in South Asia, 343 million people do not have access to electricity. At the country level, India alone has a little less than one-third of the global deficit (270 million for electricity).
The World Bank urges that universal electricity access should be dealt with as a matter of urgency to increase the likelihood of achieving the SDGs. Access to electricity is essential to break the vicious circle of poverty and to ensure acceptable basic living standards of populations. It plays a catalytic role in addressing the challenges of job creation, human development, gender equality, security, and shared prosperity.
Without access to affordable and reliable energy services there are limited prospects for the cost-effective delivery of goods and services and therefore few opportunities to develop productive activities needed for the social and economic transformation of rural communities.
It is urging countries to incorporate universal access to modern energy services as an integral part of national planning efforts to achieve the SDGs. It further said that dealing with the challenge of universal electricity access in a context of increasing awareness of climate change impacts offers an opportunity for countries to explore innovative pathways to develop sustainable and resilient communities.
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