The role of decentralized systems in providing universal electricity access in Sub-Saharan Africa – A model-based approach

26-07-2017 | Publication

Poverty and lack of access to electricity are highly correlated. In Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world, two in every three people have no access to electricity. This paper describes a purpose designed model to explore and project the development in the Sub-Saharan African electricity sector in Baseline and Universal access scenarios. The results provide insight into the role of different systems and technologies in providing access to electricity in the region and associated investment requirements.

We project that Baseline developments do not lead to universal access to electricity, especially in Eastern Africa and the rural areas. The results show that central grid extension should be complemented with off-grid systems (mini-grid and stand-alone) to increase access in Sub-Saharan Africa.

At the same time, the targeted level of consumption has large implications on the preferred electrification technology and associated investment requirements. For low levels of consumption, off-grid technologies are the most important technologies to increase access rate, while for high levels of consumption, extending the central grid is more economical. Total cumulative investment in the period 2010-2030 amount to 22 billion USD for low levels of consumption and exceed 2.5 trillion USD for high levels of consumption.

This article is available on the publisher’s website via restricted access.