Powering Africa: Challenges of and U.S. Aid for Electrification in Africa [August 17, 2015] [open pdf - 1MB]
"The largest infrastructure deficit in sub-Saharan Africa, a region mostly made up of low income developing countries, is in the power sector, according to the World Bank. Rates of access to electricity in Africa are very low by global standards, notably in rural areas. About 57% of Africans, or about 621 million people, lack access to electricity (also referred to as 'power' in this report). Whether measured in terms of generation and distribution capacity, electricity consumption, or security of supply, Africa's power sector delivers a fraction of the service needed or found elsewhere in the developing world. Power consumption is a tenth of that found elsewhere in the developing world, and per capita access is gradually falling, because new power infrastructure construction has not kept up with growing populations and electricity demands. The contrast between Africa and the developed world with respect to power capacities is particularly stark. Africa has a generation capacity of about 106 megawatts (MW) per million people, while that of the United States was about 3,320 megawatts MW per million people The lack of power constrains development in the region in multiple ways: It limits economic production, growth, and commerce; undermines human resource development and hinders improved quality of life potentials; and limits the quality of social services and public safety. It also spurs the use of alternative, often highly polluting biomass energy sources (e.g., wood and charcoal) for cooking and lighting. Estimates of African power requirements and the corresponding need for financing vary widely, but are invariably high. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that about $15 to $20 billion in annual investment through 2030 may be needed to achieve universal access to electricity, a figure roughly in line with a 2012 International Energy Agency (IEA) estimate."
CRS Report for Congress, R43593
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html