What lies behind Africa’s lack of access and unreliable power supplies?

Afrobarometer, a pan-African, non-partisan research network, recently released areport highlighting Africa’s electricity challenges. Power shortages can hamper socioeconomic development, but they also have implications for health and education. The Conversation Africa’s energy and environment editor Ozayr Patel spoke to Peter Penar, one of the researchers.

How serious is the electricity crisis in Africa?

One of the most glaring disparities is that across the 36 countries surveyed, 94% of urban dwellers have access to the electric grid, whereas only 45% do in rural areas. The urban-rural divide is most pronounced in Guinea, Mali and Niger. This suggests that major cities, including capitals, have fairly good grid coverage, but the outlying rural areas remain severely wanting.

The problem of accessing electricity varies greatly across countries. Many North African and island countries achieve high rates of access. But several countries have extended the electric grid to only a third or less of the country. Examples include Burundi (17%), Burkina Faso (25%), Sierra Leone (29%), Niger (30%), Guinea (31%), Liberia (31%) and Mali (32%). Read the rest of this article on The Conversation.