A major problem stunting the development of African countries is the extensive lack of stable power supply, with some areas not even having access to electricity at all. According to “Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report”, Sub-Saharan Africa collectively has 47% access to electricity. This is a huge impediment to industrialisation and economic activities in general.
For the day-to-day operation of small to large scale businesses which largely rely on electricity, ridiculous costs are incurred in the running of generators to supply the power the government cannot. In some countries, disruptions to power supply are so frequent that they are seen as normal.
However, this article spotlights the few African countries which have been able to set themselves apart by building energy networks that are sufficient to meet most—if not all—of the national demand.
This ranking is sourced from data provided by the Energy Progress Report global dashboard. The United Nations, World Bank, International Energy Agency and a few other prominent international agencies partner up to provide the international community with progress updates regarding Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) targets, including “ensuring universal energy access”. Electricity access refers to the percentage of the country’s population that has access to stable electricity.
The 10 African countries with the highest electricity access based on 2020 data are:
1. Egypt – 100%
The North African country boasts of 100% national electricity access for its population of over 102 million (UN, 2020). Most of Egypt’s electricity supply comes from thermal and hydropower stations, the main one of the latter being the Aswan High Dam. The Aswan High Dam also helps to control the flooding of the Nile River and is said to be one of the world’s largest embankment dams.
The Egyptian government plans on capitalising more on renewable energy sources in the years to come, especially solar and wind power sources given its favourable climate conditions for such energy generation.
2. Morocco – 100%
Morocco has been able to secure 100% national security access for its population of nearly 37 million (UN, 2020). Bordered by the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the North African country mostly depends on imported hydrocarbons for its electricity generation, with over 90% of its natural gas consumption being imported. The country’s energy mix comprises, in order of abundance, coal, natural gas, hydropower, wind, fuel oil and solar power.
However, the Moroccan government is making efforts to boost the shift towards renewable energy sources like wind and solar so as to reduce its dependence on other countries—its 2030 goal is a 52% renewable energy proportion in its energy mix.
3. Tunisia – 100%
Tunisia also boasts of 100% national electricity access for its population of about 12 million. Almost all of the national power supply is generated from thermal power plants through the burning of natural gas, which is produced locally and also imported (mostly from Algeria). Wind energy is the second most prominent source of electricity in the country, however by a very long mile. In 2021, only 3% of Tunisia’s energy was generated from renewable energy sources (including wind).
4. Seychelles – 100%
Africa’s only high-income country boasts of 100% national electricity access for its population of about 100,000. The East African island country mostly depends on generators powered by imported diesel for its electricity supply, making its energy security vulnerable. Thus, Mauritius is also making moves to shift towards renewable energy sources, having established an Energy Policy that calls for 15% renewables by 2030.
5. Algeria – 100%
Algeria is another North African country which has been able to achieve electricity access for most, if not all, of its population of about 44 million—2020 World Bank data placed its electricity access at 99.8% as of 2020. As one of the top oil exporting countries on the continent, Algeria mainly depends on locally sourced oil and natural gas for its energy needs.
A very small amount of Algeria’s electricity is currently generated from renewable energy sources, though, the country plans on making a change since it is more favourable to export its oil products than use it to satisfy local energy demand. Algeria has the highest potential for solar power exploitation in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region, so the government is making more strides in the solar energy direction.
6. Mauritius – 100%
Africa’s most developed country has achieved a national electricity access of between 99.7% – 100% according to 2020 estimates. Mauritius is also an East African island country, however unlike Seychelles, the former’s energy sector is mostly dependent on coal and oil. Also, Mauritius has been able to adopt more renewable energy production by making use of Bagasse (sugarcane waste), hydropower, landfill gas and solar energy, with a reported figure of 23.9% renewables electricity generation in 2020. Still, the country plans to increase its renewable energy production to 60% by 2030.
7. Cabo Verde – 94%
The West African island country boasts of 94% national electricity access for its population of about half a million. Cabo Verde, also Cape Verde, mostly depends on imported petroleum products for its electricity generation, making electricity costs extremely high. The country currently generates about 20% of its electricity supply from renewable sources, mainly wind and solar, but it plans to boost that figure to 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
8. Gabon – 92%
With a national electricity access of 92% for its population of about 2.3 million, Central Africa’s most developed country is also its most electrified country. Most of Gabon’s electricity supply is generated from hydropower and fossil fuels.
9. Ghana – 86%
The West African country boasts of 86% national electricity access for its population of about 31 million. However, there is a large disparity between the rural and urban access rates, with the former being 50% and the latter being 91%. Ghana’s main sources of power are hydroelectricity and thermal power plants fuelled by crude oil, natural gas and diesel. The country even exports some of its generated electricity to Togo, Benin and Burkina Faso. Ghana also has plans to amp up its renewable energy production.
10. South Africa – 84%
Africa’s most industrialised country boasts of a national electricity access of 84% for its population of about 59 million. However, recent months have seen the country face a severe energy crisis, reducing the energy availability factor to 58% and forcing the president to declare a state of disaster. The country’s energy sector is mainly powered by aging coal-fired power stations which have been able to meet the national demand. Hence, the government is looking to harness more renewable energy solutions to solve its energy crisis.
Meanwhile, fellow Southern African nation Zambia recently announced an end to power disruptions, saying households and businesses nationwide would now enjoy 24 hour power supply. This announcement followed a similar load shedding situation which was as a result of the drying out of Zambia’s Kariba Dam, the largest dam in the world in terms of reservoir size.
Sources: UN, International Trade Administration, World Bank.