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Low Electricity Supply in Sub-Saharan Africa: Causes, Implications, and Remedies

Author(s)

Jeremy E. J. Streatfeild


Abstract

Electricity supply is lower and costs are higher in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) than in any other world region. While several SSA countries have sought to address this issue through cross-border trade and investment in domestic infrastructure, these efforts have been greatly impeded by the high degree of systems losses—the difference between out and sales of electricity—as well as by electricity tariffs that are too low to recover utilities’ costs. This paper assesses the extent and economic significance of low levels of electricity supply in SSA, gives a regional overview of electricity generation levels, and discusses SSA countries’ efforts to engage in electricity trade in order to improve regional economies of scale.