Lagarde: 7 in 10 households lack electricity in sub-Saharan Africa

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), says only a third (33 percent) of households in sub-Saharan Africa have electricity.

In context, approximately seven in 10 (66 percent) sub-Sahara African households lack access to electricity.

The IMF boss, who is currently visiting Central African Republic (CAR), Uganda, and Mauritius, said poverty has been on the decline in Africa, but inequality has been reaching for the skies.

“Many Africans are now making a better living and fewer are suffering from poverty. My current host, Uganda, for example, has more than halved its absolute poverty rate to about 35 percent from close to 90 percent in 1990,” Lagarde said.

“But we have also seen a flip side. Poverty, of course, but inequality as well remain stubbornly high in most developing countries, including in Africa, and too often success is not shared by all.

“Lifting growth and reducing inequality is especially hard in countries where workers cannot relocate easily and there are big productivity differences between services, industry, and agriculture.”

Lagarde said a large informal economy, poor infrastructure and lack of financial services make the task of reducing inequality even more difficult.

“Yet, in many of the IMF’s poorest member countries, this is often the case. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, it is more than twice as expensive to move from rural to urban areas than it is in China.

“Only a third of sub-Saharan African households have electricity, compared to 85 percent in the rest of the world.

“And in low-income countries, only about 20 percent of the adult population has a bank account, compared to more than 80 percent in the rest of the world. Such barriers get in the way of successful and equitable reforms. Infrastructure development and financial sector reforms are examples.”

According to World Bank, the 48 countries that make up sub-Saharan Africa, have a population above 800 million, and produce the same electricity as Spain, which has an estimated population of 40 million.