Power poles in India. Photo: Nasir Kachroo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The number of people worldwide without access to electricity fell below 1 billion for the first time last year, according to newly updated International Energy Agency data.

Why it matters: Expanding essential energy services is a widely recognized worldwide need.

  • The United Nations' wider list of Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 includes universal access to "affordable, reliable and modern energy services."

The big picture: Over 120 million people gained access last year, IEA said in releasing a snapshot of data in its upcoming annual World Energy Outlook.

  • "However, progress continues to be uneven, with three-quarters of the 570 million people who gained access since 2011 concentrated in Asia," IEA's summary of the data states.
  • Power access remains low in large swaths of Africa.

Details: Here are a few snapshots from IEA's update...

  • "[O]ne of the greatest success stories in access to energy in 2018 was India completing the electrification of all of its villages."
  • "Many other Asian countries have also seen significant progress."
  • "In Indonesia, the electrification rate is almost at 95%, up from 50% in 2000. In Bangladesh, electricity now reaches 80% of the population, up from 20% in 2000."
  • In Kenya, access has grown from 8% in 2000 to 73% now.

But, but, but: Africa remains a major challenge.

  • "The population without access to electricity remains at 600 million in sub-Saharan Africa — totalling 57% of population — and 15 countries in that region have access rates below 25%," the IEA commentary states.

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