For over a century, countries have struggled to find affordable and sustainable ways to ensure that all citizens have access to reliable electricity.

In sparsely populated regions in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, utilities, in particular, have grappled with the challenge of finding a financially viable way to deliver affordable, reliable power to the unelectrified using centralized generation and transmission.

In fact, all but two utilities of 39 in sub-Saharan Africa are loss-making ventures. The majority of sub-Saharan Africa suffers grid inefficiencies that affect billions of people every day, including transmission and distribution losses as high as 50 percent, and service interruptions of over 500 hours per year in some countries.

At the same time, a reliance on the centralized utility model to deliver energy to rural and peri-urban areas has left nearly 1 billion people without access to energy.

Stepping into this market gap, hundreds of private-sector companies (focused on household solar and mini-grids) have emerged in the past decade to offer a different and decentralized approach. The companies have raised $1.7 billion to help end energy poverty (70% of that since 2016) and provided improved electricity to as many as 360 million people.

Read more at Thomson Reuters Foundation News