The Future of Electricity

Despite being a vital form of energy, powering things from phones to street lights, many people do not have access to electricity. 


What is the current situation?


At the moment, Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the lowest electricity access rates in the world. 600 million people lack access to electricity. Currently, 100 million of these people are living in cities near electricity stations. They do not have a connection because of high connection costs. This is because sub-Saharan Africa has become more urbanized (more people living in cities). The economy has not developed enough alongside this. This has led to greater poverty within cities, with the result that a lot of people cannot afford to have access to electricity. Even those who do have access often experience frequent electricity outages. 


One of the targets of the United Nations (an international organization that aims to maintain international peace and cooperation) is to achieve global access to electricity by 2030. However, it is predicted that by 2030 there will still be 650 million people in the world without access to electricity. 90% of those people will live in sub-Saharan Africa. 


Why is this a problem? 


Energy access is really important because it strengthens communities by stopping people moving away in search of better living and working conditions. It is also important because access to electricity allows “clean energy” cooking (not using polluting energy forms such as wood). This is good for the environment.  Sub-Saharan Africa is very rich in the natural resources needed for clean energy. Such as solar power (power from the sun), wind power, and hydropower (power from water).  


What is being done about this?


There are many things that are being done to improve electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa. The use of solar options that do not rely on electricity stations. Solar panels that can be installed in people’s homes. They are being used more and more to connect rural populations (people living in the countryside) . Those that are too far away from electricity stations in cities. 


There is also a focus on helping those who live in urban environments near electricity stations. Who do not currently have access to electricity because they cannot afford it. This can be done by offering reduced connection fees for low-income areas. Instalment-based payment plans (paying a bill in small portions across a period of time) to make payment more manageable. 


This means that energy access rates in sub-Saharan Africa should improve in the next few decades. The number of people with access to electricity should greatly increase. 

Ellie Smyk


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