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Electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2021

Global Ranking: #169
35.6% #98 Low-carbon electricity
NaN watts #214 Generation / person
484.86 gCO2eq/kWh #131 Carbon Intensity

In 2021, Sub-Saharan Africa generated a large portion of its electricity from fossil fuels, accounting for over 63%. Almost 44% of this came specifically from coal while close to 11% from gas. In contrast, a little over a third of the electricity supply came from low-carbon sources. Among the low-carbon energy sources, hydropower was the most dominant, making up approximately 27% of total electricity generation. Other low-carbon sources such as nuclear, wind, geothermal, biofuels and solar represented smaller portions with each contributing between 1.9% and 2.5%.


Sub-Saharan Africa could take several concrete steps to increase its low-carbon electricity generation, drawing inspiration from other countries' successful transitions. For instance, France, Slovakia and Ukraine all rely primarily on nuclear energy, supplying 66%, 61% and 58% of their electricity respectively. Given its current low-carbon energy mix, Sub-Saharan Africa could benefit from exploring a similar path. Additionally, Denmark and Uruguay have managed to generate significant portions of their electricity from wind power, at 59% and 40% respectively. Furthermore, a number of countries have displayed strong use of solar energy, like Greece and Australia, which generate 19% and 18% of their electricity from solar. Thus, Sub-Saharan Africa has the potential to replicate these successes by leveraging its abundant natural resources to develop wind, solar, and nuclear power facilities.


A review of the recent history of low-carbon electricity generation in Sub-Saharan Africa captures a mixed picture of progress. In the last decade, there has been some growth in hydroelectric power generation, with notable increments ranging between 3.5 to 7.2 terawatt-hours (TWh) per annum. Solar and wind energy have also seen an upward trend, registering increases of 2.5 TWh in recent years. However, nuclear energy has fluctuated with both gains and losses in the output. More notably, there were substantial decreases in nuclear generation in 2015 and 2020. Given that nuclear energy can provide a consistent source of low-carbon electricity, these declines are concerning and will require strong corrective measures to ensure a steady rise in its contribution to the regions' energy mix.

Electricity Imports and Exports

Balance of Trade

Data Sources

This is an aggregate region with data from: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo - Brazzaville, Congo - Kinshasa, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé & Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Eswatini, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
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