In Togo, the electricity access rate is 28% , far below the West African average of 40%. Both rural and urban households struggle not only with access but with low voltage when it is available. It has to rely on Ghana, its neighbor to the west, to supply some of its power.
However, the Togolese government hopes an ambitious “electrification strategy” will bring millions of its citizens out of the dark. Its target is for electricity to reach 50% of Togo’s 7.5 million-population by 2020, 75% by 2025 and achieve universal access by 2030.
The crux of the strategy is for solar power to serve three million people in communities where the grid would not reach—even after it’s been extended to another 800,000 households. To achieve this, the government would partner with private investors to build 300 mini solar plants across the country and distribute solar kits to 500,000 households. The government has also scrapped the 30% tariff on solar kits. This is in keeping with the World Bank’s recommendations on how to extend electricity to millions of Africans and forms part of Togo’s own ambitions to make renewable energy 50% of the energy mix by 2030.
Despite successes at extending electricity to many, sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the lowest household electrification rate in the world (at 42%) and 600 million people live without it. Collectively, the region has even less installed capacity when compared with India and China. According to the World Bank, sub-Saharan Africa needs $50 billion of investment every year to get close to achieving universal access by 2030 as envisioned by the UN’s SDG Goal 7.
There’s long been an expectation and hope that renewable energy—solar power in particular—will play a vital role in filling the huge deficit in Africa’s power generation capacity. One challenge has been how to deliver a consumer proposition that would be affordable for some of the poorest people in developing countries, particularly in rural areas—though there are now more startups that specialize in delivering power at affordable prices.