The World Health Organisation, in its 2022 Energy Progress report, has said that 568 million Africans are living without access to electricity and clean energy.
According to WHO, impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is adversely affecting the progress of universal energy access, designed to attain the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy by 2030.
In the report published on its website on Wednesday, the agency also cited the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis as one of the factors responsible for the uncertainty in global oil and gas markets, which has soared energy prices globally.
“Africa remains the least electrified in the world with 568 million people without electricity access. Sub-Saharan Africa’s share of the global population without electricity jumped to 77 per cent in 2020 from 71 per cent in 2018, whereas most other regions saw declines in their share of the access deficits.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a key factor in slowing progress toward universal energy access. Globally, 733 million people still have no access to electricity, and 2.4 billion people still cook using fuels detrimental to their health and the environment,’’ the report stated.
It said at the current rate of progress, 670 million people would remain without electricity by 2030, which is 10 million more than the 2021 estimated data.
“While 70 million people globally gained access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, this progress was not enough to keep pace with population growth, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa,’’ it said.
In her reaction, WHO’s Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, Dr Maria Neira, said, “Millions of people are killed through heart disease, stroke, cancer, and pneumonia since they still rely on dirty cooking fuels and technologies which are major sources of air pollution.
“Women and children are particularly at risk – they spend the most time in and around the home and therefore carry the heaviest burden on their health and wellbeing.
“Transitioning to clean and sustainable energy will not only contribute to making people healthier, but it will also protect our planet and mitigate the impacts of climate change.’’
Also, the Vice-President for Infrastructure, World Bank, Riccardo Puliti, appraised the SDG 7 and urged governments and the global community to ‘’scale up efforts to integrate universal energy access into national energy transition plans, and to focus on the most remote, vulnerable and poorest unserved populations to ensure no one is left behind.”