The pandemic slowed global efforts to expand access to electricity

Samantha Fields Sep 29, 2021
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A report shows that the pandemic hindered efforts to establish access to electricity around the globe, as governments diverted resources to fighting COVID-19. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

The pandemic slowed global efforts to expand access to electricity

Samantha Fields Sep 29, 2021
Heard on:
A report shows that the pandemic hindered efforts to establish access to electricity around the globe, as governments diverted resources to fighting COVID-19. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
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The number of people around the world who don’t have access to electricity has increased during the pandemic for the first time in years, according to a report from the International Energy Agency

The United Nations has set a goal: By 2030, everyone in the world should have access to electricity. 

Before the pandemic, Daniel Wetzel at the International Energy Agency said countries were making a lot of progress toward that goal. Especially in Asia. 

“But COVID reversed all of that. And since the pandemic, we estimate the number of people globally, without access to electricity increased by 2%,” he said.

Partly, IEA finds, because governments started diverting money to other things, like COVID testing, pandemic relief, and vaccination. And, because pandemic restrictions kept crews from going out to do the physical work of connecting people to power.

At the same time, “the pandemic revealed how important electricity is,” said Vijay Modi, a professor at the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

“Kids were told to study from home. Well what if you don’t have electricity?” he said.

According to IEA, the pandemic slowed progress the most in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost 80% of people who don’t have electricity live in the region. 

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