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Published: 6 November 2013

There are currently an estimated 1.3 billion people without access to modern electricity. The UN-driven Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative has the objective of achieving universal access to modern electricity by 2030. However, no concretely feasible and financially viable solution and strategy has been proposed to date. This analysis by Differ describes how decision-makers should approach the electrification challenge and consequently be able to achieve the objective of universal access to modern electricity services by 2030 – and with the highest possible impact on human and economic development for the funds invested.
 

Key takeaways

  • The UN-driven Sustainable Energy for All initiative has the objective of achieving universal access to modern electricity by 2030. However, no concretely feasible and financially viable solution and strategy has been proposed to date. In this analysis we argue that universal access is achievable by 2030 – or sooner - within the funding expected to be available. 
  • New approach needed. The approach taken by the International Energy Agency and others to designing the electrification strategies needs to change as it is too focused on costs per unit of power delivered and does not take budget constraints into account.
  • The way forward needs to:
             -  define progress by measuring electricity service levels provided - not power supplied (see figure below);
             -  assess the expected impact in terms of value creation per dollar invested for different service levels - not just the costs per unit of                         power delivered;
             -  determine the blend of different service levels to be provided under an explicit and realistic budget constraint. 
  • An approach not following these principles will most likely fail to provide universal access. It will likely lead to major errors in the electrification strategies, inefficient use of limited public money and hundreds of millions of people unnecessarily left without access to modern electricity services in 2030.

figure 4



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