12 Sub-Saharan African Countries With The Poorest Access To Electricity

By Peter Pedroncelli AFKI Original Published: May 4, 2017, 7:57 am
poorest access to electricityAfrican migrants in Djibouti City try to get a signal from neighboring Somalia. Photo: John Stanmeyer/Getty

Africa is home to many countries with the worst access to electricity in the world. Around 625 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have no access to electricity whatsoever.

Just two out of five people in Africa have decent access to energy to power lights and other electrical appliances throughout the day, according to the International Energy Agency.

We highlighted the best here: 12 Sub-Saharan African Countries With The Best Access To Electricity.

Due to insufficient capacity, poor reliability, and high costs, only around 32 percent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa has access to electricity.

All of the African countries on this list have at least 80 percent of the country or more in the dark. Less than 15 percent of people who live here have the luxury of electricity throughout the day.

We take a look at 12 sub-Saharan African countries with the poorest access to electricity.

Sources: AfrobarometerPolitico, ENCA,, AfricaEnergyOutlook, WorldBank

A technician adjusts the signal on a satellite dish in Mogadishu, Somalia. Photo: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP

Somalia – 19.1

At just 0.1 percent worse off than Burkina Faso, Somalia is the country on this list with the 12th poorest access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa, with less than a fifth of the country connected to a reliable electricity supply.

travel by bus In Madagascar

The people of Madagascar are bright and colorful, but their electricity supply is poor. Photo: baldhiker

Madagascar – 16.8 percent

At a staggering 16.8 percent, the vast majority of households and individuals in the island nation of Madagascar is not able to enjoy electricity access, leaving almost 85 percent of the nation in the dark.

Downtown Dar es Salaam (Thinkstock)

Tanzania – 15.5 percent

With only 15.5 percent of the nation’s population provided with access to power, Tanzania is in the top 10 African countries with the poorest power supply access, By comparison, while both Tanzania and fellow East African nation Tanzania both had around 5.5 percent supply in 1990, Kenya has grown their capacity to 36 percent.

Internet crackdown in Cameroon

In Niger electricity remains inaccessible for the majority. Photo: Bigstock

Niger – 14.3 percent

With under 15 percent of the population enjoying the luxury of electricity, Niger is poorly provisioned in terms of electricity supply. Great strides need to be made within the country to sufficiently improve the situation.

Congolese protesters gather at an anti-government rally held by the opposition Union for Democracy and Social Progress in the capital, Kinshasa, July 9, 2005. Photo: Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo – 13.5 percent

The Democratic Republic of Congo struggles to provide electricity access to their people, with only 13.5 percent enabled with power. In comparison, their Congolese counterparts in Brazzaville have been successful in improving access to electricity from 17.7 percent in 1990, to 43.2 percent in 2014.

Community health workers display their mobile phones and solar chargers.
Photo: World Vision Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone – 13.1 percent

Sierra Leone is another of the African countries that is not able to offer access to electricity to the vast majority of their people, with only 13.1 percent of the nation able to charge their phones at home, while others have to resort to other methods such as solar chargers.

C.A.R. – Outside of the capital Bangui there is no electricity or paved roads. Photo: Thinkstock

Central African Republic – 12.3 percent

In the Central African Republic, the capital Bangui is favored in terms of infrastructure and electricity supply, while the rest of the country has sparse access to any power. For this reason, only 12.3 of the total C.A.R. population is electrified.

Women sell bananas in a market in Karonga, Malawi. Photo: apsnet.org

Malawi – 11.9 percent

Malawi’s struggles with electricity access continue, as only 11.9 percent of the country is powered by electricity, but it is important to note that improvements have been made over time, with the previous level standing at only 1.9 percent in 1990.

elections to watch in Africa

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf needs to solve the electricity crisis. Photo: Afrika News

Liberia – 9.1 percent

With the Ebola crisis hitting the West African country in recent years, electricity access has been a secondary concern, but now that the spread of the virus is under control, the government needs to work to improve access to electricity, which is below 10 percent at the moment.

Darfuri women in Chad. Photo: Kirsten Johnson/PHR/darfurvisible.org

Chad – 8 percent

One of the poorest nations on earth, the people of Chad have access to electricity for less than 10 percent of the total population. With over 90 percent of the country left without any access to power, the government needs to work harder to improve the situation.

Power Africa

Villagers at Gigawatt Global Mubuga 2 Solar farm project in Burundi, 2015. Photo: David Smith/The Guardian

Burundi – 7 percent

With only seven percent of the population able to use electricity in the country, Burundi is the nation with the second-worst access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Efforts to provide power via renewable energy such as solar is underway in order to increase power supply in Burundi.

Life in South Sudan is very difficult. Image: theguardian.com

South Sudan – 4.5 percent

With only 4.5 percent of the population granted access to electricity in Africa’s newest nation, South Sudan has the poorest access to electricity of all countries in Africa, making life difficult for the majority of South Sudanese.

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