A report from the International Energy Agency concluded that more than 1.3 billion people, about 20 percent of the global population, lacks access to electricity. About 40 percent of the population, or around 2.7 billion people, don't have clean cooking facilities. Nearly all of those affected live in sub-Saharan Africa or developing Asian countries.
IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said eliminating energy poverty is a "moral imperative" for the international community.
The global community needs to invest $48 billion per year to address the problem. This is more than five times the current rate.
Universal access to electricity would only increase global carbon dioxide emissions 0.7 percent, the equivalent of adding another New York state to the global grid.
A total of $9.1 billion was invested in 2009 to expand access to modern energy services, the IEA said. The majority of the $48 billion needed should come from the private sector, the agency said in its report.