If you get reliable (99% of the time) electricity, you probably live in the developed world where most places have electricity. A quarter of the world’s population (October 2010) – mostly in Africa and South Asia do not have power and the list of countries by electricity consumption is revealing as is the data across countries by income.
[Note: This post from October 11, 2010 was updated on May 22, 2021 for formatting issues]
In many countries that are middle and low income there is a lack of coverage in rural areas with electricity. Because there is no electricity, there is slow economic activity and folks leave for towns that become overcrowded. It is these large rural populations that need electricity and don’t have it or don’t have it enough. Consider that many Indians have cell phones but no electricity to recharge them ! Till reliable electricity reaches them companies are trying to come up with “off-grid” solutions like a re-chargable battery from solar or mechanical power to keep the cell phones charged.
The point is not lost on power companies like Alstom whose Grid President mentioned recently that as electricity’s share of energy markets rise from 16% to 20 % the growth for smart electricity will be over 3% till 2014 with growth coming from Asia. The focus on innovation in the “smart power grid” as is highlighted in the growth markets of Asia in Qatar at the ongoing GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) 2010 exhibition and conference.