© Justin Jin / WWF France
Energy Access in Africa
Enhancing energy access through affordable renewables to reduce emissions and benefit people and nature

Of the 900 million people without electricity access in the world, 565 million (72%) live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Almost 80% of the energy consumed in Sub-Saharan Africa is generated through inefficient combustion of solid biomass - mainly wood or charcoal - for cooking. This is increasing deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, habitat destruction and the loss of nature.  

Africa has abundant renewable energy resources, especially solar, that can meet current and projected power demand. The cost of renewable energy has decreased dramatically over the past decade. In addition, financial innovations such as feed-in-tariffs and pay-as-you-go mobile systems have recently increased accessibility, affordability and demand.

Why is it important?

Africa is leading other continents in wood consumption and net loss of forest area, with demand for charcoal and firewood projected to increase from 625 million m3 in 2013 to 800 million m3 per year by 2030.

Africa is also the largest household black carbon emitter in the world, with households accounting for 60-80% of emissions, with implication for climate change and the health of communities. Weak energy policies also undermine Sub-Saharan African countries' ability to tap into their renewable energy potential at the expense of fossil fuels.

© WWF / Simon Rawles
What WWF is doing

WWF is driving systemic change in three areas - governance, finance and markets - while scaling the on-going impact of projects in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.


WWF supports national governments and regional bodies to review and enact policies and regulatory frameworks that promote private sector engagement and social inclusivity. 
WWF reviews national policies (like energy and electrification policies) and supports governments to ensure that they are coordinated with regulatory frameworks (like VAT import of sustainable energy products, charcoal value chain regulations and testing and quality assurance of improved or energy-efficient cookstoves) and guarantee that they work together to favour energy access, sustainable and renewable energy and energy efficiency. 

To facilitate this coordination, WWF Africa supports the creation of platforms that promote stakeholders harmonization and cooperation by sharing information, best practices and new ideas to common challenges.

Spotlight: Tanzania

Through coalitions of over 61 civil society organisations, WWF-Tanzania has provided policy recommendations for charcoal and firewood, and statutory regulations and guidelines for large scale hydro and fossil-fuel energy projects, particularly in the strategic environmental and social impact assessments.


Access to finance:

WWF collaborates with financial institutions to develop and roll-out affordable energy access financial instruments and to develop bankable proposals with small and medium-sized businesses.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, achieving electrification for all would require at least USD 27 - 31 billion per year by 2030; but in 2017 only USD 5.1 billion was received. Challenges surrounding high transaction costs, up-stream liquidity constraints and concerns over repayment have undermined small and medium-sized businesses’ ability to access loans from financial institutions. Energy users also struggle to find options to increase their purchasing power capacity to be able to acquire solar panels, improved cookstoves, or any other kinds of renewable and sustainable energy solutions.

WWF also works with financial institutions to design and offer innovative, more flexible and affordable financial instruments that businesses and users can access. We also work to strengthen their capacity to create financially attractive and impactful projects, better predict demand and become better at communicating their proposals.

Spotlight: Madagascar

The Barefoot College National Programme, started by WWF in Madagascar, trains women in remote villages to become solar engineers and entrepreneurs. Through this innovative format, they can bring solar energy to their communities and offer their knowledge and expertise to other neighbouring communities in a financially sustainable way.

Strengthen entrepreneurship skills and opening markets:

WWF supports small and medium-sized businesses to develop innovations that are flexible, affordable and local context-specific in order to capture demand and overcome barriers associated with distribution and marketing. 
WWF also promotes capacity building for small and medium-sized business and civil society organizations to gain allies that will support efforts to open up markets. These businesses are encouraged to develop innovations that are flexible, affordable and local context-specific to better capture demand and overcome barriers like distribution or marketing. Trained civil society organizations support WWF to show end-users the many economic, health and environmental advantages of adopting sustainable energy and energy-efficient solutions. 

Spotlight: Uganda

By showing the benefits of solar mini-grids, WWF-Uganda has directly supported access to clean cooking and lighting services in the Kasese District and shares its best practices through reports and publications. WWF supports the government to review the energy policy and provides key capacity building to civil society organizations for effective advocacy.