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Overview

Energy is at the heart of development.  Energy makes possible the investments, innovations and new industries that are the engines of jobs, inclusive growth and shared prosperity for entire economies. Universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable and modern energy – Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 -- is essential to reach other SDGs and is at the center of efforts to tackle climate change. The World Bank is committed to helping countries reach SDG7, which is central to delivering on the World Bank’s primary mandate: ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity. 

Today, 789 million people live without electricity and hundreds of millions more live with insufficient or unreliable access to it.  Nearly 3 billion people cook or heat their homes with polluting fuels like wood or other biomass, resulting in indoor and outdoor air pollution that cause widespread health impacts.

While the gaps are daunting, significant progress is being made in many areas. The global energy landscape is witnessing a major transformation and renewable energy is playing an increasingly vital role in helping countries develop modern, secure energy systems.  Lower costs for clean energy are helping with this transition, while disruptive technologies like smart grids, smart meters and geospatial data systems have upturned energy planning.

New large-scale approaches that combine grid and off-grid electrification have also contributed to impressive gains in energy access in many countries. In others, mini-grids are showing promise in closing the access gap.  At the same time, solar home systems are increasing in efficiency as they decrease in cost – making them affordable in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which are regions that account for the most significant gaps in energy access.

COVID-19 has put a strain on electricity providers – both utilities and off-grid companies – and threatens electricity access when it is needed most. In this new context,  the World Bank Group is taking broad, fast action to help developing countries strengthen their response and health care systems. Working with governments, the private sector, and other partners, we provide technical advice and project funding to address the pandemic and beyond.

Last Updated: Jul 13, 2020

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Washington, DC
Yann Doignon
Washington, DC
David Lawrence