In its 2022 Africa Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) presents a Sustainable Africa Scenario (SAS), in which it notes that universal access to affordable electricity by 2030 requires bringing connections to 90 million people a year, which represents a threefold increase over the connection pace of recent years. [1] Presently, 600 million people, or 43% of the total African population, lack access to electricity - the majority of whom are in sub-Saharan Africa. Some countries - including Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda - are on track for full access by 2030. [2]

Through its detailed analysis, IEA has concluded that the least costly option for 45% of the population without access would be to extend national grids. [3] In contrast, mini-grids and standalone systems (mostly solar-based) appear to be the most viable solution for rural areas, where over 80% of the electricity-deprived live. [4] Achieving energy and climate goals would mean more than doubling Africa's energy investment this decade, costing over $190 billion each year from 2026 to 2030. IEA estimates approximately two-thirds of this investment would go to clean energy. [5]

Renewable Energy Targets

Increasing access to reliable and affordable clean energy is a priority, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 600 million people in Africa (48% of the 1.2 billion person population) still do not have access to power. Out of the 53 African Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), 45 of them contain quantified renewable energy targets. Africa could potentially meet nearly 25% of its energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2030. According to information from IRENA, "modern renewables amounting to 310 GW could provide half the continent’s total electricity generation capacity."[6] This is seven times the capacity available in 2017 (approximately 42 GW). This transformation within Africa’s energy sector would require an average annual investment of $70 billion dollars through 2030.[7]

Renewable Energy Use

The following chart presents Africa's renewable energy capacity:

Source: IRENA

Energy profiles for individual African countries are available here.

Updated November 2022 by Kristin Stiner