Energy Poverty
Eliminating global poverty will not be accomplished strictly through emerging opportunities and resources for the world’s most vulnerable people but will be done by redefining ideas about poverty. Instead of defining poverty by a purchasing power baseline, Rajiv Shah, the current Rockefeller Foundation President, thinks we should define and measure poverty in terms of power connectivity and electrification, in other words, energy poverty.

Rajiv Shah, former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator, suggested this idea at the Affordable and Clean Energy for All event in Washington, D.C. Shah points to the idea that poverty is traditionally measured by a “basket of goods” stemming from a “total calories mindset.” Energy poverty defines poverty by the extent of the lack of access to modern energy.

Poverty Definitions Today

Currently, poverty is defined with a mere dollar amount. Extreme poverty is defined as a daily income of less than $1.90, and moderate poverty is living on less than $3.10 a day. The idea of moving from defining poverty from purchasing power to energy accessibility has some weight to it. For example, India in the 1970s defined poverty as the ability to purchase 2,100 to 2,400 calories of food per day depending on if the person was living in the city or in rural areas. In 2011, the Suresh Tendulkar Committee, a namesake for the late economist Suresh Tendulkar, defined living below the poverty line as spending between 27.2 and 33.3 Indian rupees (or between $0.38 and $0.46) per month on electricity, food, education and health.

This measure is thought to be far too conservative, but it does touch on the expanse of resources and services, specifically electricity, that factor into basic living standards. India is said to have 300 million people with little or no access to electricity. That is roughly 23 percent of its population. By taking energy poverty into consideration, a much clearer picture of global poverty rates can be analyzed.

Providing Energy to Areas In Need

Shah and the Rockefeller Foundation are not just providing mere lip service to the conversation on extreme poverty but also real energy service. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsors Smart Power for Rural Development, a $75 million program launched in 2015 that brings solar power to villages. This program has already powered 100 Indian villages with mini-grids that supply renewable energy to over 40,000 people.

Investments in mini-grids such as Smart Power for Rural Development or the $20 million raised from Husk Power Systems (the largest for an Indian mini-grid company) are thought to be the most efficient solutions for securing energy goals for sustainable development. Without reliable energy connectivity, almost half Of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 cannot be achieved. Two of such goals are “no poverty” and “affordable and clean energy.”

Energy is vital to attaining Development Goals such as health, education, inequality and food security. “Access to reliable electricity drives development and is essential for job creation, women’s empowerment and combating poverty,” says Gerth Svensson, chief executive at Swefund, a Swedish development finance institution that works to eliminate poverty by establishing sustainable businesses.

Metrics to Define Energy Poverty

Defining poverty through the proxy of energy poverty can leave vague perceptions. Yet, one metric illuminates the reality of what it means to be energy poor. Energy poverty is being quantified by the Multidimensional Energy Poverty Index (MEPI). The MEPI measures energy deprivation, as opposed to energy access. It is made up of five dimensions: cooking, lighting, services provided by means of household appliances, entertainment/education and communication.

Each dimension has one indicator to measure the importance of the activity, with an exception to cooking, which has two indicators. Each indicator has a binary threshold that indicates the presence or lack of a product or service. Energy poverty defined through the cooking dimension is measured by cooking with any fuel besides electricity, natural or biogas since it would leave a family vulnerable to indoor pollution. The lack of several other products or services complete the index—the lack of access to electricity (lighting), a refrigerator (household appliances), a radio or television (entertainment/education), and a landline or mobile phone (communication).

Measuring Poverty Through Energy

According to BRCK, a Kenyan organization that works to furnish internet connectivity to frontier markets, 18 of Africa’s 54 total nations have at least between 50 and 75 percent of their population without access to electricity, and 16 have more than 75 percent of their population lacking. On the measure of communication, only four of those nations have mobile-phones access for more than half their population, the highest being South Africa at 68 percent.

Using the current standard, roughly 736 million people worldwide are considered to be living in extreme poverty, yet 1.1 billion people were still living without access to electricity in 2017. The means for microeconomic power and poverty alleviation via education, healthcare, business and communication seem to be less about cash flow and more so concerning reliable energy flow, redefining poverty with the idea of energy poverty.

Thomas Benjamin
Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Energy
Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) initiative in 2011 with three goals in mind.

He aimed to secure universal access to energy services, to double the global improvement rate in energy efficiency and to double the amount of renewable energy used globally.

Through doing so, he hoped to work toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 7. This goal aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The initiative focuses largely on bringing together groups from different sectors to collaborate on a common goal.  

Sustainable Energy for All Forum

With partners from different governments, the private sector and civil society, SEforAll is able to use a multi-pronged approach to tackle the issue of sustainable energy access.

Partners of the program come together each year at a Sustainable Energy for All Forum, where attendees from over 80 countries discuss the progress that has been made and what still needs to be done.

Partners can present their work for the previous year and announce plans for the next one. Different organizations have the opportunity to meet together and potentially collaborate on new projects.

They give evidence and ideas in various working sessions that cover topics such as maximizing the impact of energy, city-level action, gender equality in sustainable energy and challenges that countries are facing.

This information ultimately helps countries who have aligned with SEforAll fulfill their pledges to improve sustainable energy access. After each forum, numerous follow-up meetings and events are scheduled.

Examples of these events are People-Centered Accelerator, Sustainable Energy in Somalia and other. Partners come together to apply the information from the forum to their individual projects.

Forum Topics

While the forum discusses a variety of issues, SEforALL also provides targeted accelerators with specific topics. Participants discuss energy efficiency in terms of appliances, building efficiency, district energy, among other topics.

These meetings are also focused on action, so participants can talk about policies, business models and solutions.

Many initiatives have come out of these accelerators, including the U.N.-coordinated District Energy in Cities Initiative. It works toward increasing the adoption and funding of district energy, a sustainable way of heating and cooling buildings.

Other Sustainable Energy for All Projects

SEforAll also works towards projects of its own, including improved data collection. They created a website with “heat maps” that tracks which countries are making progress and which are not.

They use collected data on clean cooking, electricity access, energy efficiency and renewable energy to identify trends in different countries. With this information, countries can evaluate the success of their policies and SEforAll can target countries that need more progress.

To further evaluate the progress of different countries, SEforAll and The World Bank Group launched Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy  (RISE), a set of indicators used to thoroughly assess each country and the manners in which they address sustainable energy access. It covers 111 countries, which roughly makes around 96 percent of the global population.

It categorizes each country into three zones, according to how much progress they are making. Each country is also given scores based on their performance in energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy, based on specific indicators in each of the categories.

Sustainable Energy for All ultimately encourages countries to take action towards improving sustainable energy access. It provides them with evaluations of how well their current policies and efforts are working and information on how they can improve their work.

Through collaborations with other groups from different sectors, countries are given the tools to make progress and to develop in the right way.

– Casey Geier

Photo: Flickr

environmental degradation and poverty
At a historic United Nations Summit in New York in September 2015, countries from all over the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This agenda aims to end poverty and inequality while protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development. To do this, the agenda established 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be accomplished by 2030. These SDGs emphasize the relationship between environmental degradation and poverty and how sustainable development is critical to achieving these goals.

Sustainable Solutions

Sustainable development is defined by the U.N. as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Such a practice involves using natural resources in a way that will leave future generations with a healthy planet and enough resources for survival.

Earth has only a limited amount of natural resources, and how people and countries currently use these are unsustainable. Current consumption patterns and national policies of developed and developing nations alike are severely damaging the environment and jeopardizing the future of the planet.

Inefficient use of resources, wasteful consumption, pollution and waste are all key factors in environmental degradation. These practices also contribute to global poverty; poverty, in turn, then damages the environment. This vicious cycle will not end unless countries and individuals change their practices.

How Countries and People Harm the Environment

Natural resources are currently allocated to meet the wants of the few instead of the needs of the many. Developed countries account for 24 percent of Earth’s population but consume 70 percent of the world’s energy and 60 percent of its food.

Though developed nations are more energy-efficient than developing nations, consumption is so high that they still contribute a great amount to pollution. The extremely high demand of these countries leads to extensive deforestation so more land can be used for agriculture.

Developing nations further contribute to environmental degradation through inefficient energy use and environmentally-harmful practices like resource stripping. Countries resort to these harmful practices for a variety of reasons. Natural resources account for a majority of many developing countries’ exports. In an attempt to grow their economies, countries overexploit these natural resources.

In addition, a large part of many developing countries’ budgets is used to repay their debt, leaving little money to fund sustainable development programs. Many nations “believe they cannot afford the luxury of environmental protection” and feel forced to accept long-term environmental damage to meet their immediate needs.

Many poorer individuals in developing countries feel the same. They depend on natural resources for their livelihoods, which leads many to deplete these resources in order to survive.

How Harming the Environment Harms People

This environmental degradation disproportionately affects the poor, particularly those in developing nations. Overconsumption in wealthy countries means many people in poor countries don’t have enough food. One billion people worldwide are hungry, yet 1.2 billion are obese.

Air and water pollution are health hazards. Lack of clean water and air and poor sanitation and nutrition leaves people vulnerable to diseases and causes extremely high rates of death among children.

Poor people are also more susceptible to natural disasters, as they are more likely than wealthier individuals to live in areas where earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fires and other disasters are common. These disasters destroy people’s livelihoods and homes, often forcing people to move to other areas. These environmental refugees can cause overcrowding and environmental stress in the areas they move to, which worsens both environmental degradation and poverty.

Unless people and countries change their practices, both environmental degradation and poverty will worsen. Natural disasters are becoming both more extreme and more common because of industrialization and human actions. As the world population continues to grow, more and more people will be hungry, live in overcrowded conditions and ultimately, live in poverty. Promoting sustainable development is crucial to a better future.

How to Change

Governments, businesses, organizations and individuals: all have a role to play in the effort to protect the environment and end poverty.

Wealthy nations must change their policies that are detrimental to the environment. Expressing support for the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and implementing policies that align with these goals provides an example for other nations and encourages them to behave the same.

Foreign aid to developing countries can stabilize their economies, make them more financially and technically capable of focusing on environmentally-friendly development and help them establish practices that are consistent with the SDGs.

Accountability and Responsibility

Governments should also encourage individuals to take more responsibility for living sustainably and educate people on how to do so: eat less meat, shop locally, reduce food waste, use less plastic, recycle, switch to alternative forms of energy — the list goes on and on. (See here for more ways you can live sustainably). Businesses can do many of these actions as well as change their practices to be more environmentally-friendly.

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth… these are one and the same fight” said Ban Ki-moon, the previous U.N. Secretary-General. “Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.” Environmental degradation and poverty are directly related; to end one, the world must address both.

Laura Turner
Photo: Flickr

solar energy in ZambiaThe Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of over 16.5 million. A shocking 54.4 percent of this population lives below the World Bank’s standardized poverty line. Currently, Zambia is unable to effectively meet the energy needs of its citizens. As a result, the Zambian government, USAID, independent investors and NGOs throughout the U.S. and Europe are investing in solar energy in Zambia, as they believe it has the potential to greatly reduce poverty and contribute to meeting the country’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Problems with Current Zambian Energy Infrastructure

A majority of Zambia’s nationalized energy production is created using hydroelectric dams; however, the dams face many problems in terms of their reach and reliability. Dams in the country only provide power to 10 percent of the Zambian population. Futhermore, the dams become unreliable as drought conditions increase throughout southern Africa. Zambia’s climate pattern works around a wet and dry season. As the rainy seasons become shorter and less intense, the dams are not filled to capacity. Less water in dam spillways inherently results in less energy production and more frequent blackouts.

Consequently, a majority of Zambians rely on charcoal to meet their energy and heat needs. The need for charcoal results in widespread deforestation of the savannah woodlands that make up a majority of the Zambian natural ecosystem. As a result, habitat destruction decreases biodiversity, degrades the natural ecosystem services and damages what could be a lucrative Zambian ecotourism industry. Because of these problems, the Zambian government and outside investors are looking toward solar alternatives, recognizing the benefits of solar energy in Zambia.

 

The Solution:  Solar Energy in Zambia

Director of the Zambian Development Agency (ZDA) Patrick Chisanga and other branches of the Zambian government are teaming up with investors throughout the United States and Europe to provide funding toward solar energy in Zambia. The ZDA is currently negotiating a $500 million solar investment deal from an unnamed German company hoping to provide projects and products to the growing market.

In 2015, USAID Zambia and Power Africa provided $2 million of funding to the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Scaling Solar project, which has contributed $4 billion in global solar investments, to further develop smaller-scale commercial and utility solar energy in Zambia. NGOs like the U.K.-based Solar Aid are currently working in conjunction with a group called Sunny Munny to develop solar projects and provide resources to the very eager Zambian communities.

Moving Toward the Future

Solar energy development in Zambia continues what is already a growing trend of technological leapfrogging throughout the African continent. Zambians understand that they may never be a part of the nationalized power grid and therefore readily accept solar energy infrastructure as a solution to this problem. In a report conducted by BBC in Jan. 2018, reporters describe buzzing excitement in villages after they set up their solar technologies and finally had access to their own non-biofuel energy source.

With the help of Zambian government action, USAID investment, private investment and nonprofits like SolarAid, solar energy in Zambia will help the country approach several of its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: providing citizen access to reliable modern energy resources, building resilient infrastructure and protecting and restoring natural ecosystems within the country.

– Daniel Levy

Photo: Flickr

cheap clean energy
By 2020, it is anticipated that the price of wind and solar energy will be equal to or even less than the cost of fossil fuels.

This cheap clean energy would have obvious environmental benefits, but it is also significant because it provides poor communities in developing countries, more specifically in Asia and Africa, with the opportunity to connect to the power grid, in some cases for the first time.

 

Slow but Constant Progress

A large amount of Africa’s population continues to remain without electricity. According to a World Bank article published last year, 500 million people in African countries do not have any electricity, which is down from the 600 million that Reuters reported in 2016.

Of that 600 million, Reuters found 10 percent utilized sustainable means to get their electricity. While the progress has been slow, the continuing decrease in the cost of clean energy means that the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to electricity by 2030 will be more obtainable.

As cheap clean energy becomes more competitive with fossil fuels, businesses and other countries have invested in developing infrastructure in African countries so that they can utilize sustainable energy.

One recent example of this assistance occurred last August when France gave Kenya $36 million in order to construct 23 mini-grid systems for wind and solar energy. Due to this action, businesses and homes in these poor communities will be able to utilize electricity to spur development in multiple ways as the price of renewable energy continues to fall.

 

Efforts to Provide Jobs

In 2017, the renewable energy sector provided 9.8 million jobs around the world, with jobs in solar energy being the largest employer, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency; this number demonstrated an increase from the previous year. Furthermore, the Director-General of IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin, predicts that by 2030, the renewable energy sector could employ around 24 million people.

 

More Light, More Time to Study

Having electricity at home gives families the opportunity to use technology they previously would not have had access to. For example, families in Mali could charge their phones at home, and use other devices such as radio and television.

Another positive impact that people may not often consider is that access to electricity makes it easier for people to stay up later, and as a result get more work done. This is particularly beneficial in the case of students, who can have more time to finish their homework using light from electricity.

As described in one article by The World Bank, it was generally reported that teachers in Mali noticed their students improve in classes after they gained access to electricity through solar power.

 

Business Advantages

Cheap clean energy makes it easier for businesses to stay open longer, and work more efficiently. For example, small restaurants can use electricity to power freezers and refrigerators and therefore remain open longer hours. More specifically, after Mali installed a solar energy plant in one region of the country, women were able to use the electricity to create a processing unit for their local produce.

Overall, the introduction of solar grids and other cheap clean energy is promising for the continuing development of African countries. By far, solar energy continues to be the cheapest form of clean energy. A 2017 report from IRENA found the cost of electricity from solar power fell almost 70 percent between the years 2010 and 2016.

As technology continues to advance and the prices of clean energy continue to fall, electricity can finally reach these poorer communities and make a difference in the lives of the people who inhabit them.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr

Solar Power in the Fight Against PovertyHunger, lack of education, conflict, disease, war; these human calamities have a common factor: poverty. One word to define a worldwide phenomenon which unfortunately hits 2.8 billion people on earth, or near half of the total entire population.

So, what are the solutions to fight this burden? Investment, innovation, technology and education are all viable options. But more and more multinational companies, associations and even simple citizens are now engaged in the fight against poverty, using a very special tool: solar power. As a source of renewable energy that is good for the environment, solar power can also help people get out of poverty by giving them access to electricity.

Today, most inhabitants of developing countries rely more on kerosene than on electricity for their basic needs such as household lighting. This is not only because the cost of electricity is extremely high, as the poorest people in the world pay 40 times more for the same energy services, but also because, most of the time, the nearest outlets are located miles away from where poverty is striking.

Because of this poor resource distribution, 15 percent of the global population still lives without access to electricity, and it is this inequality that solar power is attempting to balance by giving people easier access to electricity, information and education. For example, in Bangladore in India, families using solar panels can save $100 a year, money they tend to invest in their children’s education.

According to Simon Bransfield-Garth, Azuri’s CEO, a leading company in solar power in emerging markets in Africa, “a child spends an extra [two] hours per day doing homework if he has electricity.” But giving people access to electricity, and thus to information and education, is only one advantage this form of energy has to offer developing countries.

First, using solar power requires only one natural resource: the sun. This free, nonpolluting and unlimited
generator makes solar power one of the most environmentally friendly energies in the world. Furthermore, the green energy is reliable and cheaper in the long run than kerosene or generators. It is also safer and easier to preserve in case of natural disasters, as solar panels are detachable and can be put indoors.

Helping in both the fight against poverty and climate change, solar power seems to be the perfect solution for those who still don’t have access to electricity. But there is much more at stake here: every year, more than four million people are killed by indoor air pollution, more than AIDS and malaria combined. Developing clean energy is, now, a matter of life or death.

As concluded Justin Guay, associate director of Sierra Club’s International Climate Program, “Just providing a few hours of solar lighting alone improves the human condition.”

– Léa Gorius

Photo: Flickr

Pollinate Energy
India is a country that is home to 1.3 billion people and counting. Despite rapid innovation and expansion in the country, a significant portion of the population live in slums.

In fact, as of 2014, 24 percent of the urban population of India resided in slum housing. Slum housing is any housing that may lack structural integrity or space, access to clean water or sanitation or where residents do not have security of tenure.

With such a large population living in slums, there is a serious need for affordable energy. Yet electricity from the power sector in India is very unreliable and power outages of 20 hours or more occur often. As a result, many people who reside in India’s slums rely on kerosene as fuel. While kerosene is an effective substitute for an unreliable power sector, it is not cost efficient and can cause household and environmental air pollution.

To improve access to sustainable energy in India’s slums, one organization called Pollinate Energy has implemented a unique business strategy. In what Pollinate Energy calls “social business,” a salesman or “pollinator” builds connections with locals in Indian slums.

The pollinator may teach the locals about the benefits of using renewable energy and the potential negative effects of using kerosene for light or cooking. If the community members want to purchase sustainable energy products from the pollinator they can buy them at an affordable price.

Plus, if the customers are satisfied with the products, they may act as “worker bees” that refer other community members to the pollinator in return for products or commission.

This business model encourages the adoption of reliable, sustainable energy products in India’s slums and allows consumers to become entrepreneurs in their own communities.

According to their annual report, in 2014-15 Pollinate Energy sold over 9,000 products to nearly 43,000 individuals in India. These products helped save 43.7 million Rupees and eliminated 2,000 tons of potential CO2 emissions for consumers who would have bought and used kerosene for light and cooking.

For at-risk individuals like those who live in slums, any money that can be saved could be used for other essential goods like food, water or medicine. Though systematic change is necessary to fully help those who reside in slums around the world, Pollinate Energy is making a positive difference by providing clean energy products and job opportunities to those in need.

Weston Northrop

Photo: Flickr

Energy_Poverty
According to Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director of the World Bank, energy poverty implies that “poor people are the least likely to have access to power, and they are more likely to remain poor if they stay unconnected.” The key to solving energy poverty likely lies in the choice of power, with renewable resources being both the cheaper and environmentally cleaner option.

Misconceptions of Renewable Energy

The term renewable energy often conjures up images of developed, wealthy nations experimenting with different resources while using the most modern, up-to-date technology. However, renewable energy is now spreading to the farthest corners of the earth, achieving goals of environmental and economic sustainability. Renewable energy is often thought of as a luxury, but in some parts of the world it has become a necessary way of life.

According to World Bank data, a large number of poor countries rank as some of the top users for renewable energy. Joining the ranks of eco-friendly Albania, Paraguay, and Iceland are Kenya, Zambia, Mozambique and many other African countries. Falling at number 16, three quarters of Kenya’s electricity production is derived from renewable resources, especially hydro power. In fact, developed countries in general lagged behind poorer countries in their use of renewable resources.

Renewable Resources: Budget and Environmentally Friendly

Utilizing renewable resources to create energy is not only environmentally friendly, but also budget friendly for many communities. The U.S. based nonprofit, EarthSpark, recently set up a solar microgrid in Haiti, which is an affordable energy solution for homes and businesses. Microgrid users pay for the service in advance, ensuring that customers only use the energy that they are able to afford.

Another benefit of renewable energy is that new technology often brings along new employment opportunities. In Haiti, 109 entrepreneurs were trained to work with and market the microgrid technologies.

Countries still bypassing the usage of renewable resources for coal need to realize that solving energy poverty requires, as Huffington Post writer Edward Cavanough notes, the “pragmatic use of local and sustainable energy sources to meet immediate and long-term demand, while fostering sustainable growth.” Renewable resources are the energy of the future, and it’s in the world’s best fiscal and environmental interest to utilize them.

Carrie Robinson

Photo: Flickr

Energy Access in Doula
Caterpillar, the globally-recognized U.S. construction equipment company, is leading the fight against energy poverty in the Central African country of Cameroon. Priding itself on its commitment to sustainability and social change, Caterpillar has increased energy access in Doula, Cameroon’s largest city. The company plans to expand its reach by joining hands with Altaaqa Global.

Altaaqa Global is a rental dealer of Caterpillar products, and the company’s goal is to ensure that electricity is dependably supplied to vulnerable communities. Through its new customer development program, Altaaqa Global and Caterpillar plan to increase energy access by providing local employees with the technical knowledge needed to manage Doula’s natural gas power plant.

As Fahah Y. Zahid, the chairman of Altaaqa Global, explains, “We have always aimed to play an active role in spurring growth and progress not only by providing a reliable supply of electricity but also by transferring knowledge to locals. We hope that the Customer Development Program yields a globally competitive workforce that will drive the continuous growth of Cameroon.”

Plagued by a lack of energy access, Doula faces extreme poverty, which affects 13 percent of the city’s population, as well as a 30 percent unemployment rate. Caterpillar and Altaaqa Global’s work is thus crucially important because providing Doula citizens with electricity will lead to greater economic growth.

In May 2015, the Government of Cameroon announced that it wanted to achieve “economic emergence” by 2035. Thanks to Caterpillar and Altaaqa Global, the government’s target may be within reach.

While Caterpillar increases energy access in Doula with the help of Altaaqa Global, more people will use the newfound electricity to gain an education, start their own businesses or find jobs. As a result of these new opportunities, Doula’s residents can effectively contribute to Cameroon’s success and help the country become the economic powerhouse it has the potential to be.

Kristina Evans
Photo: Pixabay

Hydropower_Projects

Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) has just started two new Hydropower projects with a price tag of over $45 million. The new Hydroelectric dams will be located on the Genale Dawa and Dabus rivers with construction expected to start in 2017.

The two new Hydropower projects are part of a larger initiative called the Second Growth and Transformation plan (GTP). The first GTP, which lasted from 2010 to 2015, was a success that resulted in the creation of a second GTP that encompasses this hydroelectric project.

The first GTP emphasized economic growth, expansion of public services and political stability. A crucial part of the plan was to reach the Millenium Development goals (MGDs) put forward by the U.N.

Ethiopia has made serious economic progress in the past decade, maintaining a GDP growth rate greater than 10 percent since the mid-2000s, which is double the average sub-Saharan African growth rate.

Even more impressively, Ethiopia has seen a 33 percent reduction of the population living in poverty since 2000. The high growth rate and government projects have been crucial in decreasing poverty in Ethiopia.

Hydroelectric and geothermal power are very important for Ethiopian development. The country is home to 12 river basins and part of the Great Rift Valley, making it a prime location for sustainable energy.

However, not all of that potential has been realized. Of an estimated 50,000 MW of power that Ethiopia could produce from hydroelectric and geothermal sources, only 2,000 MW are currently being generated.

While it may seem like Ethiopia has a long way to maximize its energy production levels, it’s important to note just how far it has come. Since 2000, Ethiopia has increased its energy production 3.5 fold, with especially high annual increases since 2013.

Not only will increased sustainable energy production help Ethiopian citizens, but a proposed energy deal with Kenya (the third fastest growing economy in the world) will bring a big boost to the Ethiopian economy.

The new hydroelectric dams will generate 672 MW, a significant increase to Ethiopia’s current power levels. The two new dams are expected to begin generating power in 2021.

John English

Photo: Flickr