The 7th United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at risk in poor countries?

08.02.2018: UNCTAD, in its annual report on the poor countries, highlights lack of funding to electrify the African continent.

One of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): "Ensuring access for all to reliable, sustainable, modern, affordable energy services" seems difficult to achieve!

This is what the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) notes in its report on the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) published in late 2017. The 32 African states that make up the bulk of these 47 LDCs are in the first line.



This is the number of people in poor countries who have no access to electricity.

In total, 577 million people, or 62% of the population of the so-called "least developed countries" do not have access to electricity. These people are concentrated in the countryside (82% of people living in rural areas do not have electricity). Not surprising as investors focus on large urban areas and huge industrial projects such as mining, to finance big electrical infrastructure that require between 20 and 40 years of work.


Senegal is the best pupil

Apart from Senegal, where more than 50% of the population has access to electricity, all other LDCs are well below this figure. By comparison, other developing countries (non-LDCs) have an average network connection rate of 90%!


Big projects in question...

Ethiopia doubles its power generation capacity by inaugurating a new dam.

This type of major project may be reluctant if you consider risky political environment of the countries in question. These programs do not always work optimally. "More than 40% of companies are hampered in their production activity by inadequate electricity supply, unreliable and too expensive," says Unctad.


Money is lacking

Beyond this point, money is lacking. "Only 1.8% of official development assistance, or $ 3.8 billion a year, goes to energy. To achieve Goal 7 of the SDGs by 2030, it would take between 12 and

40 billion dollars each year, "says Rolf Traeger, economist at Unctad and co-author of the report.


Electrical production rising, but insufficient!

Considerable efforts have been made. Electricity generation in the LDCs quadrupled between 1990 and 2014. But per capita output has only multiplied by 2.5, with population growth being the cause.

"Neither production capacity nor production itself has been able to keep up with the increase in the number of people with access to electricity.", underlines the document.

Installed electricity generation capacity and production per person with access to electricity are currently 50% and 20% below 1991 levels, respectively.

What can we do?

According to Rolf Traeger, "the solution will come from a clever mix of financing between major infrastructure projects (the network), mini-grids and autonomous devices such as solar panels or wind turbines in the most remote parts of the country.


Less expensive renewable energies: the importance of photovoltaics

New energy technologies can be a solution.

The cost of some renewable energies has dropped significantly. "For example, the cost of solar photovoltaic panels has decreased by 85% over the last decade," the report notes.

These technologies will be available only on the basis of a financial effort by international and public donors, with private sector mobilization via public-private partnerships.

In Niger, photovoltaic pannels provide the necessary energy to pump the water that is lead to the water tower in the village of Safo Nassarawa, near Maradi.

To ensure universal access to electricity in the LDCs by 2030, "the networks will have to serve 571 million more people, the mini-grids 341 million more people and the autonomous devices 114 million more people. "


This is the challenge!

Source: Les Échos