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Investment Falls Far Short of UN’s 2030 Goal for Electricity Access, Clean Cookstoves

The investment dollars now available for sustainable energy fall far short of what will be needed to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of delivering electricity and clean cooking to all the world’s population by 2030, according to an analysis released last week during the United Nations General Assembly.

“Estimates show an annual investment of US$45 billion is needed to meet universal electrification,” Sustainable Energy for All reports, citing data it gathered in partnership with the World Bank Group, Climate Policy Initiative, the African Development Bank, Practical Action Consulting, and E3 Analytics. But in the 20 African and Asian countries with the biggest access gaps, representing 84% of the problem, the current level of investment “is less than half that number, averaging just $19.4 billion a year.”

The shortfall is far deeper for clean cookstoves, where annual financial commitments total just $32 million, against an annual need for at least $4.4 billion.

The study also found that only 1% of total financial commitments, or $200 million per year, went to “more affordable, decentralized energy solutions, such as household solar systems, which hold great promise to deliver basic electricity more quickly and more affordably to vast, hard-to-reach rural populations,” SEforALL notes in a release. Roughly 60% of the grid investments, about $11.6 billion per year, was concentrated in three countries—India, the Philippines, and Bangladesh. China emerged as the biggest bilateral financier to the 20 countries, supplying 21% of the total.

“Overall investments are substantially lower than what’s needed to achieve our energy access goals,” said SEforALL CEO Rachel Kyte. “While it’s good to see encouraging, early-stage progress in a handful of countries on electricity access, we urgently need targeted, refined strategies to increase investment in integrated electricity solutions.”

Kyte also called for a “frank new dialogue around bold, market-based strategies that can deploy clean fuels and technologies for cooking at the speed and scale needed. The lack of financing for clean cooking solutions is shocking. Fixing financial flows to ensure everyone has access to clean, affordable, reliable energy is essential in meeting our commitment to leave no one behind.”