Bill Gates just published his 2016 annual letter, which discusses how the world could bring sustainable electricity to those who desperately need it.
In the letter, he asks readers to imagine what life would be like without electricity. Chances are, they wouldn’t be able to turn on a laptop, iPhone, the lights, heat, or air conditioning.
That’s a typical day for the some 1.3 billion people — or 18% of the world’s population — who don’t have energy, Gates writes.
To prove this point, he shared this image of Africa at night taken from space:
As you can see, it’s almost completely in the dark.
Although the continent is one of the fastest growing regions worldwide, seven out of 10 people in sub-Saharan Africa live in the dark, he writes. The same problem exists in Asia, where more than 300 million people don’t have electricity.
The solution may lie in bringing the cost of solar energy and wind down three-fold, Gates tells Tech Insider. He’s also looking at ways to make nuclear fission cheaper and safer. Both governments and private organizations have a role to play in financing research and fostering advances, he says.
Gates predicts that, within the next 15 years, the world will discover an “energy miracle.”
“When I say ‘miracle’ I mean a kind of thing like a computer on a chip, or the internet, or the cellphone, that are really quite miraculous,” he tells Tech Insider. “Most people would not have predicted them, and their effect has been very, very dramatic.”
If that happens, the world would look a whole lot brighter.