Today in Energy

June 8, 2017

Global access to electricity has increased over the past two decades

graph of world population and electricification by country, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the World Bank Population and Access to Electricity datasets

According to the most recent data from the World Bank, 15% of the world’s population—approximately 1.1 billion people—lacked access to electricity in 2014. However, access to electricity has been generally increasing over the past two decades. In 1994, approximately 25% of the world’s population lacked access to electricity.

Part of the increased share of access to electricity is attributable to the faster rate of population growth in urban areas; the share of the world’s population living in urban areas grew from 44% in 1994 to 53% in 2014. Urban areas tend to be more electrified, but most of the world’s population without access to electricity live in rural areas. In 2014, 27% of the world’s rural population did not have electricity access compared with 4% of urban populations.

graph of world population access to electricity, as explained in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the World Bank Population and Access to Electricity datasets

The electrification rate grew the fastest from 1994 to 2014 in Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia. Investments to increase electricity access have significant implications for economic development and quality of life as well as the energy consumption and energy-related emissions for each country.

Graph of share of population with access to electricity, as described in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the World Bank Population and Access to Electricity datasets

Graph of share of population with access to electricity, as described in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the World Bank Population and Access to Electricity datasets

Graph of change in share of population with access to electricity, as described in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on the World Bank Population and Access to Electricity datasets

The 2017 EIA Energy Conference will include a session on electrification in developing countries, which will explore barriers to and drivers of electrification. The panel will be moderated by Thad Huetteman, Team Leader of the Electricity Analysis Team. Speakers on the panel will include

  • Dr. Francisco De La Chesnaye, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
  • Dorian Mead, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • Dr. Gang He, Stony Brook University 

The 2017 EIA Energy Conference, held June 26 and 27, 2017 in Washington, DC, will examine current trends and key developments affecting energy at the state, national, and global levels. Conference registration is open through noon Eastern Time on June 22, 2017.

Principal contributor: Michelle Bowman