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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.

Go deeper

27 mins ago - Technology

Facebook Oversight Board overturns 4 of its 5 first cases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook's independent Oversight Board published its first set of decisions Thursday, overturning 4 of the 5 cases it chose to review out of 20,000 cases submitted.

Why it matters: The decision to go against Facebook's conclusions in 4 out of 5 instances gives legitimacy to the Board, which is funded via a $130 million grant from Facebook.

New York AG: State severely undercounted COVID nursing home deaths

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Data from New York's public health department undercounted COVID-19-related deaths in nursing homes by as much as 50%, according to a report released Thursday by state Attorney General Letitia James.

The big picture: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration did not include nursing home patients who died after being transferred to the hospital in its tally of over 8,500 nursing home deaths, according to the report. Data provided to the attorney general's office from 62 nursing homes "shows a significantly higher number of resident COVID-19 deaths can be identified than is reflected" in the official count.

Trading platforms curb trading on high-flying Reddit stocks

Major trading platforms including Robinhood, TDAmeritrade and Interactive Brokers are restricting — or cutting off entirely — trading on high-flying stocks like GameStop and AMC Entertainment.

Why it matters: It limits access to the traders that have contributed to the wild Reddit-driven activity of the past few days — a phenomenon that has gripped Wall Street and the country.