The number of people without electricity more than halved over the last 20 years

Twenty years ago, the number of people without access to electricity was more than double what it is today. 

In 2019, an estimated 761 million people did not have electricity. Two decades ago more than 1.6 billion people were in this position.

Today, more than three-quarters of those who do not have access to electricity live in Sub-Saharan Africa. We see this in this chart which shows the global breakdown by region.

While many countries lag behind, country-specific examples show us that progress can be quick. India, for example, reduced this number from 475 million to 30 million in less than 20 years. Bangladesh is another country that made rapid progress.

We should keep in mind that having access to electricity is defined by a very low threshold: it means having a usable electricity source with a consumption level that can provide very basic lighting, and charge a phone or power a radio for 4 hours per day. It does not guarantee that someone has the electricity needed to maintain a high standard of living. But it does provide a useful measure of how many people in the world have access to electricity for the most basic of uses. From there it is possible to increase electricity use and raise living standards further.