According to the Economist, worldwide Access to Energy has risen significantly in the past 20 years, with the greatest strides seen in East and South Asia. Roughly “1.7 billion people gained access to electricity, and 1.6 billion to modern fuels for household cooking between 1990 and 2010. The world’s population increased by a similar amount, so the proportion of those who have access to modern energy sources rose.” The great strides seen in the data taken from East Asia make sense with the rapid development that China in particular has been experiencing. That being said, the dark sections of blue and red in the visual below depict clearly that South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa still have large populations lacking both electricity and cooking fuels.
Taking the development economist’s viewpoint, we would hope that in the next twenty years there would be exceedingly few regions and populations who are still lacking energy access. The International Energy Agency estimates “that nearly $50 billion a year will be needed” to by 2030 achieve the UN’s goal of universal access to modern energy. In other words it is not likely. Nonetheless, all experts in the development field can agree that achieving such would be a major benefit to the local and regional economies, and we can hope that progress continues.
At the same time, however, if the world’s increasing population all gains access to energy that is manufactured from coal or oil, we will have more of the already serious problem of accelerated climate change, high carbon ppm, and drastically changing ecosystems on our hands. This is why initiatives supporting renewable energy products and markets are so vitally important to this issue. (Hint to social entrepreneurs needing inspiration for new ideas).