Energy poverty and its consequences for local economies and social development are projected to remain the predominant challenge for sub Saharan Africa through to 2030.
Moreover, significant energy access and energy pricing inequalities exist between urban and rural areas. Whereas urban areas tend to use energy in the form of electricity, charcoal, kerosene and other fuels, rural areas continue to rely on largely traditional biomass for meeting their energy requirements for cooking, lighting and space heating.
Household access to electricity across the region is about 20%, but wide gaps exist between the access rates in urban areas that average 40% and in rural areas from 6% to 8%.The grids usually serve only urban and pri-urban and leave the rural electricity supply dependent on expensive diesel generators. The electricity consumer tariffs in the majority of sub Saharan countries reach equal or higher levels than in industrialized countries with higher income (e.g. USA, Europe, Asia ).
Low-income groups are obliged to spend much more of their income on poor quality energy services. Traditional fuel derived from unsustainable harvested firewood is causing deforestation across the region, general deterioration of key ecosystems, and exposes the population to indoor air pollution, among other damaging impacts.