Pakistan Bureau of Statistics recently released summary of the 2017 census results. As per these results, our population has increased from 132 million in 1998 to over 207 million in 2017 – a 2.4% growth rate. The census figure is quite alarming as development institutions like World Bank had projected Pakistan’s population to be around 198 million (growth rate of less than 2%). This higher than expected growth rate has repercussions for country’s socioeconomic indicators. One such indicator is Pakistan’s electricity access rate.
According to power system statistics published by the government, the number of domestic consumers in the country, in 2016, were 22.8 million. Taking World Bank’s estimated population figure of 198 million and an average household size of 6.45 (Pakistan Household Integrated Economic Survey), Pakistan’s electricity access rate was calculated as 74% i.e. 154 million people in Pakistan were thought to have access to electrical grid.
This access rate however needs to be revised in the light of census results. According to census results, there are 32.2 million households in the country. So with an estimated 22.8 million domestic connection across the four provinces, the new electricity access rate is 70.8% i.e. 147 million people are connected to the grid. This result should trigger some nervousness in the government as it implies that an additional 17 million people in the country are without grid electricity. This takes the number of people, not connected to electric grid, to 60.6 million, from the previously estimated figure of 43.7 million.
The table below gives the provincial electricity access rates:
Between the years 2006 and 2015, the number of sanctioned connections in the country increased, on average, by 0.76 million connections per year. In order to achieve universal access by 2030 (Vision 2025 and SE4All goals), over 17 million domestic connections would have to be provided in the next 13 years i.e. every year the DISCOs need to connect an additional 1.4 million households – 84% increase. This is by no means a small a feat and would require substantial resources from the government.