Universal energy access is now within reach for the billions of people around the world that lack basic energy services, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The IEA’s latest analysis of access to modern energy services shows that countries in Asia in particular are on track to meet universal energy access by 2030. Their progress has been enabled by a combination of falling costs and growing political will.

However the IEA’s report, which is part of its World Energy Outlook 2017, says that progress in sub-Saharan Africa has been slower than in Asia. World-wide, some 674 million people will remain without access to electricity in 2030.

“The good news is that a convergence of political will and cost reductions is accelerating progress,” said Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA’s executive director. “Just look at India, which has provided electricity access to half a billion people since 2000. The government’s tremendous efforts over the last several years have put it on track to achieve one of the biggest success stories ever in electrification.”

Some 90 per cent of those remaining without basic energy services in 2030 will be in sub-Saharan Africa, IEA believes. It adds that providing energy access improves air quality and prevents premature deaths.

According to the report, which covers 140 countries, the number of people without access to electricity fell to 1.1 billion in 2016, down from 1.6 billion in 2000.

Fossil fuels have been the primary new source for electricity access since 2000. However, renewables are catching up quickly, providing more than a third of new connections in the last five years. This shift is expected to accelerate in coming years, says the IEA, and by 2030 renewables are set to provide new electricity access for three-in-five people.