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How Africa-EU Research Cooperation is Improving Energy Access in Africa

Energy in Africa is a scarcer commodity than in the developed world. Fifteen percent of the world’s population lives on the African continent, yet they represent only 3 percent of global electricity consumption.

On average, electricity consumption per capita in sub-Saharan Africa is less than that needed to power a 50-watt light bulb continuously. The 48 sub-Saharan countries have a combined installed generation base of only 68 gigawatts, according to the African Development Bank. This is roughly equal to the generation capacity of Spain, a country whose population is less than 5 percent of that of sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2011, the international community initiated a drive toward achieving universal access to modern energy services by 2030 under the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative.

Substantially increasing energy access rates has the potential to significantly lift people out of poverty, create more dignified living conditions and expand economic opportunities. The current high level of energy poverty across Africa undermines the economic and social development of the continent. It can also fuel political instability and can even have an influence on the creation of failed states. Indeed, worldwide there appears to be a strong correlation between political stability and higher electrification rates.

Paul Keller

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