Exploring the dividends that accrue with energy services and the case for going further, faster, together.
Achievement of SDG 7, access to affordable and clean energy, is inextricably linked to the achievement of other SDGs, such as: health, education, gender equality, and climate action. There is growing evidence that the benefits of energy access are no longer just linked to having electric light in the evening, but that household income and expenditure rises, school enrollment and grade completion increases, and illnesses and maternal mortality rates decrease with improved medical services.
Tangible results have been seen at every delivery service level. Low service delivery levels (e.g., Tier 1 access – solar lamp/solar home system/improved cookstove) can meet basic energy needs at a very low cost and dramatically improve living standards. At a higher level of delivery service (such as Tier 3 – clean energy mini-grid), hours of electricity supply have been extended, enhancing environmental sustainability as well as financial viability – and opportunities for productive uses and income generation have increased, while health and education services have improved. Improving energy access to the highest level (e.g., Tier 5 – 24/7 grid electricity), yields significant economic and health benefits, reduces waste, and improves economic productivity. Andersen and Dalgaard (2013) suggest that power outages significantly affect Africa’s growth, and estimate that the average annual rate of real GDP per capita growth in Africa would have been 2 percentage points higher if all African countries had experienced South Africa’s electricity supply performance. To reach everyone without access to electricity with a solar lantern by 2030 would cost $30 billion - equivalent to the GDP of Cote D’Ivoire.
Women, girls and the most vulnerable can be the biggest beneficiaries of energy access – but not enough is been done to realize these gains. Labor-saving household electric appliances - such as food processors or washing machines, - as well as a reduced need to collect fuel due to improved cookstoves, free up time, allowing them to go to school and participate in income-generating activities. Public lighting creates a safer environment with empirical evidence also suggesting that street lighting may reduce the risk of gender-based violence (Doleac & Sanders, 2012).