This blog post draws on data and research discussed in our entry on Energy Production & Changing Energy Sources.
Global access to electricity has been steadily rising in recent decades. In 1990 just over 71 percent of the world population had access; by 2016 this had risen to over 87 percent.
This progress also holds true when we look at the total number of people without electricity access. In 2015, the total number without electricity fell below one billion for the first time in decades; very likely the first time in our history of electricity production.1 This is shown in the chart below: in 1990 more than 1.5 billion didn't have electricity; by 2015 this had fallen to 952 million. By 2016 it had fallen again to 940 million.
This figure is still unacceptably high — and gains in access are moving much too slow to reach our goal of universal access by 2030. This is particularly true for Sub-Saharan Africa — despite the share of the population with electricity rising steadily, population growth meant that the total number of people without access was on the rise until 2016. Accelerated progress will be needed to ensure this number now continues to fall.
You can explore these numbers for any country or region using the "Change country" function in the bottom-left of the interactive chart below. Or explore more data on the topic in our longer entry.