Cabo Verde

Cabo Verde is a chain of islands off the coast of Senegal, West Africa. Despite having only 10 percent arable land, limited mineral resources, mountainous terrain and an arid climate, Cabo Verde has been developing rapidly. This is mainly due to the booming tourism industry and development projects in Cabo Verde.

Being a small island nation, there are a few challenges with development. The money spent on transportation between the nine inhabited islands is quite high. Several infrastructure constraints exist which make the delivery of public services and energy in need of improvement. Due to Cabo Verde‘s climate, the agriculture industry is not able to reach its full potential. Lastly, being an island in the Atlantic Ocean, it is susceptible to climate change, rising sea levels and natural disasters.

In light of these challenges, five development projects in Cabo Verde have been created to boost the economy, increase tourism and ensure the well-being of the residents on the islands.

  1. The Competitiveness for Tourism Development project recognizes tourism as the economy’s main source of growth, with the public sector as the key force. This project backs the implementation of Cabo Verde’s vision for this industry. The project began in April 2016 and will cost approximately $3.7 million.
  2. The Transport Sector Reform Project consists of four components. The first is road preservation with routine maintenance. The second component is the development and operationalization of a road and bridge management system. The third is a road safety action plan which puts an accident database and monitoring and evaluation system in place. Finally, there will be an inter-island transport strategy to improve the quality of services and the management of ports and airports.
  3. Another one of the five development projects in Cabo Verde is the Water Supply Development Project of Santiago Island. It is a $220 million project aiming to strengthen the bulk of the water supply on Santiago Island. There will be construction on two water treatment plants with reverse osmosis technology, 12 water reservoirs, 14 pumping stations and about 100 miles of water mains.
  4. The Cabeólica Wind Project was created to develop the use of wind power as a more sustainable alternative to imported fossil fuels. This project will help achieve Cabo Verde’s goal of using 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2020. On four of Cabo Verde’s islands, a 25.5-megawatt facility is meeting about 25 percent of the nation’s energy demands.
  5. The final of the five development projects in Cabo Verde is the Watershed Management and Agriculture Support Project. It was created to increase productivity in agriculture by supporting the conversion of dry farmland to higher-value horticultural production. This was done by improving natural resource management, including the sustainable use of soil and water resources. The project also improves the capacity to support the development and implementation of community-based watershed management plans.

As a middle-income country with a relatively low poverty rate, Cabo Verde is able to design projects like these to continue promoting growth and achieve goals. These development goals will boost the economy, increase tourism and ensure the well being of the residents and visitors on the islands and keep the poverty rate low.

– Lorial Roballo

Photo: Flickr

Infrastructure in Chad

Infrastructure encompasses many things, including roads, electricity and water systems. The infrastructure in Chad has been lacking, which affects its citizens’ daily lives. However, many groups are lending a helping hand to Chad so the lives of its citizens can improve.

Problems with infrastructure in Chad can be attributed to the civil war and poor management by the central government. The decades-long civil war damaged many of the country’s roads, and the remaining roads are made of dirt and are often at risk of eroding. The distributors of power and water are often corrupt and demand an excessive amount of money for their services. Although water and electricity are available in the capital, they are expensive and not available to most of the population in rural Chad.

Due to its many problems, the quality of infrastructure in Chad is ranked 143rd out of 148 countries in the world.

One of the most important things that good infrastructure helps with is the maintenance of water. A strong water infrastructure means that people do not have to wonder whether or not their drinking water is contaminated. Unfortunately, Chadians must worry if their water is safe to drink. People in rural Chad have to rely on traditional water wells as their main water resource. Unfortunately, these wells are susceptible to surface contamination. Bacteria and disease can propagate in the wells.

Although Chad is having problems with its infrastructure, there are people who are willing to help. Spirit of America is a group of American troops who help people in impoverished nations improve their lives. These troops have gone to Chad and built water pumps in key towns and cities. Prior to the troops arriving, these towns and cities did not have any running water.

The immediate effect of building water pumps is a safe water source for the town. If a town has a clean and safe water source, its quality of life will improve and the occurrence of disease will decrease.

Another effect of building water pumps is that they function as a means of counterterrorism. Extremist groups often use the lack of water as a rallying call for people to join their cause. Once there is a proper water system available to people, the extremists have less backing for their cause and will not be able to recruit as many people.

Chad has had troubles with regard to infrastructure, but things are beginning to improve. With the assistance of groups such as Spirit of America, improvements in Chad’s infrastructure can have a positive impact on its citizens.

– Daniel Borjas

Photo: Flickr

Water quality in Afghanistan pollution

Water is a basic necessity for all life–it must be safe and clean for use. For the people of Afghanistan, water that is safe and clean is especially hard to come by. Fortunately, poor water quality in Afghanistan is a problem that both a global organization and its Afghan partners are working to resolve.

After more than a decade of armed conflict and neglect, Afghanistan has a problem with getting sanitary water to its people. The country of 32.5 million people gets its water from rivers and underground supply, which is reliant on rainfall and snow.

In recent years, climate change has caused a reduction in precipitation, resulting in a drop in water levels of six meters.

Other major obstacles stand in the way of improving the water quality in Afghanistan. Not only is there less water, but the water that is available is contaminated. In most major cities, underground water supplies have been compromised, due to the lack of canalization, proper waste management and proper waste disposal.

In big cities, hospitals commonly bury their waste underground or leave it above ground. Medical waste can contain poisons and infectious inhabitants, seeping into the underground water supply over time.

However, change is underway to improve this dire situation.

The Improvement of Water Quality in Afghanistan

Domestically, the Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation has been working for the last 30 years constructing 40,000 clean water posts, with access for one million people. But, the Afghanis cannot do it alone. Much work is still to be done to meet all water needs in Afghanistan.

External help is underway from GIZ, a German company that specializes in developing solutions to global problems. With the backing of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, GIZ is making great strides.

In collaboration with the Afghan Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Corporation, GIZ has developed and is implementing a massive plan to decentralize and overhaul the Afghani water infrastructure. They will work with and train Afghani workers to complete the project and independently maintain it, also creating a sanitation and management program for water in Afghanistan.

Between 2011 and 2013, GIZ trained around 2,000 employees from the institutions involved. As a result, they are now able to better perform the work necessary improve water quality in Afghanistan.

Now that the workforce has been trained, substantial progress is being seen.

From 2007 to 2013, the number of households with a newly connected water supply in Kunduz, a major city in northeastern Afghanistan, rose from 370 to 7,700. This represents about 75 percent of Kunduz’s population. Kunduz is only one example of a trend spreading around the country.

Currently, newly constructed water infrastructure is not only becoming self-sufficient, but also now has the ability to self-fund more growth. In 2012, the Afghani government introduced a water tariff, which significantly increased the income of the water infrastructure. In some cities, Afghanis are willing and able to pay for their new access to clean water.

Since then, in the major cities of Kabul, Harat and Kunduz, the proportion of water that is paid for has risen greatly. As a result, the cities of Herat, Kunduz and Mazar-e Sharif have built and are operating six new wastewater plants. Big change is taking place for the better.

Not long ago, the majority of Afghanis were desperate for clean water. Today, with the help and intervention of Germany, the major components that led to the water problem in Afghanistan are on the way to being improved. The work being done is changing lives, communities and cities across Afghanistan.

Steven Jenkins

Photo: Flickr

unreliable water systemsEven though half the world’s population now has water piped into their homes, access to the basic resource is not guaranteed. About 400 million people dwelling in cities in the developing world remain dependent on unreliable water systems, sometimes forced to wait up to 10 days if they miss the window of water supply.

Not surprisingly low-income households and small businesses are hit the hardest by water intermittency. Ultimately, unreliable water systems hinder health and economic development, especially in countries like India where 250 million people rely on imperfect water systems.

A University of California-Berkeley civil engineering graduate sought to address this issue when she created NextDrop, a phone-based program that notifies people when water will be available.

Founder Anu Sridharan and her team of fellow graduates began to put their idea into action after winning the Big [email protected] contest in 2010. The year-long contest provides funding and support to teams of students who have innovative solutions for global challenges.

The system operates by collecting water flow information from valvemen who are responsible for opening and closing the valves that control water flow into various districts. By using NextDrop, households are typically alerted one hour before the valves open giving them peace of mind and the ability to carry out their daily tasks.

NextDrop has already reached 75,000 registered users in Bangalore, India. Now, USAID has announced plans to evaluate the effectiveness of the text message-based notification system and impact on quality of life.

If evidence from evaluations and surveys show NextDrop to be accurate and effective, funding will be provided for the service to be expanded into more major cities in developing countries.

As Phillip Denny, director of Big Ideas told USAID, “University-based programs like Big Ideas provide the perfect ecosystem for early-stage entrepreneurs by providing the resources, funding and ultimately the validation that allows ideas like NextDrop to thrive.”

Emily Ednoff

Photo: Flickr

mapillaryIn spite of modern digital services like Google Street View, many locations in developing countries, such as Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, remain inaccessible to much of the world.

Swedish startup Mapillary and the World Bank have teamed up to solve this problem. Mapillary enables individuals to map their own streets by collecting street level photos simply by using their smartphones.

Such maps can help cities anticipate and recover from natural disasters, track traffic congestion, distribute resources to the impoverished communities that need them and build public transportation systems.

Mapillary CEO Jan Erik Solem told NPR News, “Dar es Salaam has really poor map data. The reason is that the mapping companies need people on the ground or in the local area to create the actual map.”

Maps that detail roads, homes, rivers and terrain may help kickstart city planning.

“In order for it to flourish into the metropolitan city [Dar es Salaam] has the potential to become, we began a community-based mapping project called Dar Ramani Huria (Swahili for “Dar Open Map”),” states a blog post from the World Bank, “to bring disaster prevention and response to previously unmapped areas, training the local community to create highly-accurate maps by the residents who know their city best.”

25 wards have been charted so far in Dar es Salaam with Mapillary. The task was accomplished by attaching a camera to a local Tanzanian rickshaw and by using photos taken by a motorist. These photos were then uploaded to Mapillary and constructed in 3D. A blog post by the World Bank on Mapillary’s website says that this information allows them to “pinpoint troubled areas” and to map out the routes locals often use.

As these maps are developed, they are run through software that develops natural disaster scenarios to help citizens improve planning and preventive efforts.

NPR reports that more than 260 citizens have volunteered to take photos for the mapping project. Locals have taken around 23,000 photos, which will map 300 miles of road.

“Sparking the community’s interest in mapping has the potential to truly transform Dar es Salaam into a prosperous city with the infrastructure to prevent floods, bring awareness to the need for flood prevention and risk reduction, and arm its citizens with the right tools and skills to build a better city,” states the same blog post.

Kaitlyn Arford

Sources: NPR, Mapillary, World Bank
Photo: Flickr

indonesia's infrastructurePresident of Indonesia Joko Widodo, who was elected last year, is making Indonesia‘s infrastructure a priority. He is putting the equivalent of $22 billion U.S. toward improving the country’s infrastructure. This number is 53 percent larger than last year. President Widodo is also dedicating an additional $3 billion to state firms and companies that are involved with infrastructure improvement.

Improving Indonesia’s infrastructure could have long-term benefits that could help people affected by poverty. According to the Copenhagen Consensus Center, anywhere between 10 to 50 percent of crops are wasted while traveling from the farm to consumers. If there was a way to make this number smaller by a mere 10 percent, prices could be reduced; if prices are reduced, 60 million fewer people would go hungry.

President Widodo plans to invest in infrastructure by scrapping subsidies on fuel and providing subsidies for farmers to use on fertilizer and seeds. He also wants to improve irrigation systems for farmers, improve roads and land and provide more forms of communication. In the long run, this can improve overall food distribution.

This tactic has been proven effective in the past.

“Indonesia experienced rapid agricultural growth in the 1970s and 1980s together with reductions in malnutrition and poverty,” Mark W. Rosegrant, director of the Environment and Production Technology Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute, said.

Rosegrant was also involved in the Copenhagen Consensus Center study. “This growth and improvements in food security were significantly driven by increasing investments in rural infrastructure and in agricultural research and development,” he said.

Rosegrant and others behind the Copenhagen Consensus study are suggesting that there are even better ways for President Widodo to reach his goal. The study concluded that it would also be beneficial for President Widodo to invest in agricultural research along with infrastructure. Even if only $6 billion is devoted toward researching how to increase crop yields, the result could be 79 million fewer hungry people around the globe.

President Widodo is hopeful that improving power plants and rural roads will help the people of Indonesia and around-the-world significantly. This is excellent news, and perhaps President Widodo will look into the benefits of agricultural research and save even more lives.

Melissa Binns

Sources: The Australian Business Review, The Wall Street Journal
Photo: MTCP2

Currently two-thirds of the world’s population, a staggering 5 billion, live without access to basic internet. A lifestyle difficult to imagine here in the U.S. and other countries that have integrated internet into virtually every aspect of our daily lives., a group of powerful allies, is dedicated to utilizing their combined resources to change this. is an innovative partnership spearheaded by Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook,who is  committed to reducing the cost of bringing internet access to the world. The plan is to provide universal access to internet by lowering the cost of serving data by tenfold and reducing the amount of data required to run basic apps by the same amount. These major cost reductions are the keys to reducing the cost of internet access 100-fold. This is the amount of cost reduction that would make it possible to for a worldwide internet providing infrastructure to exist and this group is determined that it can be achieved through technological innovation.

According to, providing universal internet access is a fundamental step in the struggle for global resource equality. Access power is so valuable today because the internet is “the backbone of the knowledge-based economy.” This statement recognizes the global shift currently taking place since the advent of the internet that is moving society from a mainly resource-based economy to knowledge-based economy. By providing another 5 billion people across the world to the knowledge economy an unprecedented change could take place., driving the economy up, and impacting poverty worldwide.

“The internet’s impact on global growth is rising rapidly. The internet accounted for 21% of GDP growth over the last five years among developed countries… the internet is also a catalyst for job creation,” according to McKinsey & Co. While this kind of economic growth may not be immediate, the plan has potential to stimulate economies worldwide.

In order to achieve this feat, is delving into some large-scale innovative projects to combat even larger technological and socal challenges. Some of these include high-altitude, long-endurance planes, satellite systems and even lasers.

The founding members of this group are impressive, including tech giants Ericsson, Mediatek, Opera, Samsung, Nokia and Qualcomm. Looking at this short list of big names, it is not surprising that some have immediately questioned whether there are purely capitalist motives for these companies that are being disguised behind a humanitarian agenda.

However, in Deloitte’s study on the “Value of Connectivity” they found that “expanding internet access in developing countries to levels seen today in developed economies, we could increase productivity by as much as 25 percent, generating $2.2 trillion in GDP and more than 140 million new jobs, lifting 160 million people out of poverty,” while also having the ability to “deliver critical information on nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention. Once connected, people gain access to basic tools like health information, financial services and education that can help them live fuller, better lives and join the worldwide economy.” With the promise of this kind of massive economic benefit in the developing world, many believe that the motives behind this cooperative effort are somewhat irrelevant.

The concern over hidden agendas may provide the project with the high level of visibility both from those who are critical and those who are supportive. Ultimately, time will be what tells us if this project is able to have the kind of success that will drive the change that it expects.

– Leonna Spilman

Sources:, McKinsey & Company

Photo: La Nacion

Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX,) Mexico’s state-owned oil company, has announced a record $28 billion of investment for the 2014 fiscal year. It is expected that the vast majority of money invested (approximately 85%) will go towards production and exploration for new oil fields.

The $28 billion figure is 10% higher than last year’s level of investment, which amounted to $25.3 billion, of which $19.3 million went to production and exploration of crude oil and gas fields. Despite this increase over last year’s investment level, PEMEX CEO Emilio Lozoya Austin claimed that in order to develop the country’s resources to their maximum potential, a further $32 billion would need to be invested.

In late 2013, Mexico’s legislature passed a bill permitting foreign companies to invest in PEMEX, a groundbreaking move that was not previously allowed since the company’s nationalization in 1938. This permission comes amidst flagging levels of oil production and Mexico hopes the move will boost its productive capacity.

While levels of PEMEX investment have increased steadily from 2008 onward, levels of oil production fell from 2.79 barrels per day to 2.54 million barrels a day in 2012, and levels of gas production fell from 7,030 cubic feet per day to 6,900 cubic feet per day over the same time period.

In 2008, PEMEX reported a production of 43.5 billion barrels per year, while in 2013 it reported 44.4 billion barrels per year. This slight increase can be attributed to the discovery of six new oil fields that added about 180,000 barrels per day at the end of 2013.

PEMEX is responsible for funding approximately one-third of Mexico’s national budget, with much of the revenue going towards social programs that improve education and infrastructure throughout the country.

Additionally, PEMEX hopes to increase exploration of deep waters in the Gulf of Mexico and improve its technological innovation in shale extraction through its newly minted partnership with the Russian oil giant Lukoil earlier this year.

– Jeff Meyer

Photo: Huffington Post
International Business Times, El Economista, Oil Price