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Diminishing the Worldwide Energy Gap

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Sep 21, 2013    •    1651 Views

Last summer, President Obama announced a $7 billion Power Africa initiative that targets sub-Saharan Africa.  Its goal is to create the infrastructure that will extend electricity to more than 20 million households. Partnering with 6 other nations, the US will provide credit guarantees, technological advice and incentives for private and public investment.

To imagine the worldwide electricity gap, you can just compare your energy-efficient refrigerator to per capita energy consumption in sub-Saharan Africa: 

Developing Nations energy consumption

Perfectly though, the World Bank conveys the bigger worldwide power consumption picture:


From: The World Bank

From: The World Bank

Even more specifically, the World Bank’s “Global Tracking Framework” lets us compare energy deficits.



And then, this graph takes the next step.

From: The World Bank

From: The World Bank



But still, The Economist shows how slowly progress has been unfolding.

Energy Gap from the economist




If Power Africa is successful, imagine the impact on education, safety, health and daily life. Success would also return us to the emerging markets “spending ladder” that we posted recently and more people owning consumer durables like the energy-efficient refrigerators with which we started.


Sources and resources: Hat tip to the Washington Post wonk blog for sending me to Todd Moss’s blog  for his graph and Power Africa info. The White House also has a fact sheet on Power Africa while for the best overview on worldwide energy challenges I suggest this World Bank Report and their table on per capita electricity consumption.

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