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New on our Knowledge Center: Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa - Uptake, Reliability, and Complementary Factors for Economic Impact

Published on March 14, 2019

Electricity_in_SSA_cover.JPGAccess to reliable electricity is a prerequisite for the economic transformation of economies in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), especially in a digital age. Electricity Access in Sub-Saharan Africa by the World Bank Group outlines that due to the substantially low access rate to electricity, households and businesses with access often face unreliable service, and the cost of the service is often among the highest in the world. This situation imposes substantial constraints on economic activities, provision of public services, adoption of new technologies, and quality of life. Much of the focus on how to best provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity service to all has been on mitigating supply-side constraints. However, demand-side constraints may be as important, if not more important. On the supply side, inadequate investments in maintenance result in high technical losses; most state-owned utilities operate at a loss; and power trade, which could significantly lower the cost of electricity, is underdeveloped. On the demand side, the uptake and willingness to pay are often low in many communities, and the consumption levels of those who are connected are limited. Increased uptake and consumption of electricity will encourage investment to improve service reliability and close the access gap.

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