World Bank Calls for a Geothermal Energy RevolutionNearly 40 countries have met their energy needs by utilizing geothermal energy. The global potential for geothermal energy is very much untapped, with worldwide geothermal electricity capacity at only 11 gigawatts, or .3% of the total global power generation. To change this, the World Bank is implementing a Global Geothermal Development Plan to generate geothermal power for low- and middle-income countries to deliver power to 1.3 billion around the world who are without it.

At the Iceland Geothermal Conference in Reykjavik on March 6, Sri Mulyani, World Bank Managing Director, spoke about the need for donations to support the Plan as well as the importance of geothermal energy for developing countries. “Geothermal energy could be a triple win for developing countries: clean, reliable, locally-produced power,” said Indrawati. “And once it is up and running, it is cheap and virtually endless.” She adds that previously geothermal energy work has been done at the national and regional levels and that what is needed now is “a global push.”

The World Bank’s plan will focus on exploratory test drilling which makes geothermal projects more capital intensive than other renewable sources due to expensive and sometimes fruitless drilling. Significant investment in these projects is needed before a site is deemed viable enough to provide considerable geothermal energy. The cost of testing the potential of a site to produce geothermal energy is US$15 to 25 million, an investment that is lost if the site proves not suitable. However, in countries with more dense populations, geothermal energy, which has the smallest land footprint per kilowatt-hour, is an especially useful resource. The goal is to develop a pipeline of projects that are commercially-viable and ready for private investment.

25% of Iceland’s electrical power is generated by geothermal power plants and 95% of Iceland is heated by volcanic hot water. Currently, Iceland is potentially looking to sell and export the surplus energy the country produces. In collaboration with Iceland, the World Bank is working to assist surface exploration studies and technical assistance for some African countries. The Olkaria Geothermal Plant in Kenya has received long-term support from the World Bank. Only 16% of the Kenyan population has access to electricity. With an abundance of geothermal resources present in East Africa’s Rift Valley, the geothermal potential could provide 150 million households with power. The World Bank’s plan is to double geothermal generation to deliver close to 30% of Kenya’s electricity by 2020. Pierre Audient, Clean Energy Program Team Leader at the World Bank’s Energy Sector Management Assistance Program calls it “a potentially transformative resource,” especially for many developing countries.

Throughout the developing world, there are untapped geothermal resources. Geothermal energy is carbon-free access to electricity, is relatively clean, and delivers constant power. World Bank Group funding for geothermal developments has risen from $73 million in 2007 to $336 million in 2012. With the Global Geothermal Development Plan, the World Bank hopes to increase its support.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: World Bank

At the offices of the World Bank, 19 young people from 14 countries were honored at the “Connect4Climate: Right Here, Right Now” event for their photographs, videos, and podcasts about climate change. Chosen from more than 1000 entries from 116 countries, these 19 winners of the global Voices4Climate awards were celebrated in an event hosted by Connect4Climate centered on how youth fight climate change utilizing the power of creativity.

Coming in first place was Stephon Gabriel from Trinidad with his music video, “A Changing World.” Connect4Climate had also worked with Artists Project Earth (APE), a UK environmental and arts organization, to organize a charity album consisting of music by Eminem, Beyonce, Coldplay, Bruno Mars and other artists in support of climate change projects. Live performances were given by two of the album’s artists, award-winning Malian musician Rokia Traore and Kenyan rappers TSI, during the event organized by Connect4Climate in collaboration with MTV and TerrAfrica.

Speaking at the event was World Bank President Jim Yong Kim who encouraged young people to help fight climate change emphasizing the need to listen to and engage the youth. Also in attendance were Nobel Peace Prize laureate Betty Williams, co-founder of Community of Peace People in 1976, and Italian Minister for the Environment, Corrado Clini. Clini supported Connect4Climate’s mission of providing the youth a platform to tell their stories about climate change and bring their voices to the global conversation about climate change. Clini commented that Italy was proud to be a supporter of the project and that effective change is only possible when the voices of the youth are heard.

CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility, Dr. Naoko Ishii, spoke of the efficacy of youth to change the “business-as-usual approach” that has contributed to climate change. “Young people will inherit our environment, and Connect4Climate seeks to give them a voice,” said Dr. Ishii.

Working with leading media networks and academic institutions, Connect4Climate and TVN Media group have launched their next competition, i°Change, to find the best original video message addressing climate change issues and action. Winners will receive a scholarship, recognition at the Grand Prix of Advertising in Milan, and exposure at film festivals in Cannes, New York, and Beijing.

Founded by the World Bank, Italian Ministry of Environment, and Global Environment Facility in 2011, Connect4Climate is a global partnership dedicated to climate change communication and action. Connect4Climate is made up of a coalition of more than 150 partners and an online community of nearly half a million followers. Through social media and the web, C4C works to amplify the voices of local stakeholders who have stories to tell about climate change.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: World Bank

The South Asian Paradox
South Asia is experiencing what one World Bank economic advisor is calling the South Asian Development Paradox. Ejaz Ghani notes that despite experiencing rapid economic growth, the region still houses the largest concentration of people living in poverty in the world. Ghani writes on his observations and makes recommendations on how to remedy this South Asian Paradox.

India makes up nearly 80 percent of South Asia’s GDP and is recognized as an emerging economic powerhouse. This progress is being experienced as well by other South Asian countries transitioning from low-income to middle-income status. Regardless, what is being seen right now is a shift in the “geography of poverty.” More than 70 percent of the world’s poor are now concentrated not in low-income countries but in these middle-income countries with more poor people in South Asia than there are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ghani predicts that this is a pattern that is likely to continue over the next decade.

In South Asia, the number of poor has increased from 549 million in 1981 to 595 million in 2005. In India, where three-quarters of these poor reside, the numbers rose from 420 million to 455 million. Oddly enough, the poverty rate for India fell from 60 percent to 40 percent in this same time frame. Conventional wisdom has associated decreasing poverty rates to growth. Poverty rates are indeed going down but not at fast enough rates to reduce the number of poor people. This lag in poverty reduction is not due in part to underperformance as India, China, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are in line with the global trend and what economic growth would predict it to be. Unfortunately, South Asian countries have not fared as well as China and Thailand. Merely being on par with the global trend is not enough for South Asia, which has the largest concentration of the poor.

Ghani posits two big questions for South Asia:

• Has the pace of poverty reduction kept up with the pace of income growth?
• Has the pace of human development and gender parties kept up with the pace of income growth?

With what is being seen happening in South Asia, the alternative view that growth by itself without improving social indicators such as education, health, and women’s participation in economic activities may not be enough, seems to ring true. He compares India to China, which has roughly the same population. Both have witnessed an increase in inequality of distribution of wealth across people, with inequality in China increasing more rapidly. Despite this, China has seen much faster poverty reduction while India has experienced much slower economic growth.

Ghani notes that South Asia lags behind in education, health and gender inequality. In India, the growth enrollment ratio in secondary school, the ratio of the number of students attending university to the number of students attending school, is 40 percent, much lower than East Asia’s which is at 70 percent. Also, the region is plagued with the highest rates of malnutrition and the largest number of undernourished children in the world. In terms of gender inequality, women’s labor-force participation rate in South Asia is the lowest in the world.

To address this South Asian Paradox, Ghani prescribes direct policy interventions to accelerate social progress. In particular, he stresses the importance of improving gender inclusiveness. By reducing gender inequality in the workforce and education, South Asia can hope to see a revolutionary transformation in society.

– Rafael Panlilio

Source: World Bank


Shanta Devarajan, a leading World Bank economist, said that while African nations are spending more on education and other community-related industries, the mismanagement of these funds is a current problem.

Devarajan’s advice? Allow the people of impoverished communities to make their own decisions regarding the spending of money. Devarajan cited that one of the benefits of putting aid money in the hands of the people would be added accountability for civil servants. He also asserts that making civil servants more accountable would decrease the misallocation of funds and improve the quality of services provided by civil servants.

Cirino Heteng, South Sudan’s Minister for Youth and Sports, conceded that including the poor in the decision-making process would help, but defended the current policy by saying that more supervision was needed. Heteng accused the current minister of education of being unaware of what the hierarchy beneath him is doing because he rarely visits the schools.

One way or the other, both sides promote the idea that the community be more involved in the allocation of funds.

South Sudan is a new official country as it seceded from Sudan in July of 2011. Problems such as the allocation of aid and hierarchical structure may therefore just be symptoms of a newly established government.

– Pete Grapentien

Source Voice of America

coinage 3
President Obama’s push to increase the national minimum wage to $9.00 has stirred up plenty of conversations lately. This has been a very divisive issue over which party lines are clearly drawn. Politicians, news anchors, lobbyists, and economists have been debating the importance of the possible change that $1.75 could make here at home. Here in my home state of Ohio, the increase would be $1.30. But, what could that bit of money do elsewhere?

The World Bank found that in 2008 about 1.4 billion people in the developing world depended on a cost of living of less than $1.25 and set this amount as the definitive worldwide poverty line. Roughly one in every four inhabitants of any given developing country is estimated to fall under this category. While that number has been dropping steadily over the past decade, it is still a frighteningly high number. So, what can you get for $1.25?

In Kenya your $1.25 could buy you:
-2 0.33 liter bottles of Coca-cola
-2 loaves of bread
-1 liter of gasoline

But forget luxury items like a dozen eggs, that run at a market low of $1.44. And with the cheapest transportation available you’d better need no more than two buses to get where you’re going since they will cost you $0.50 each way, and that’s a day without any food cost at all. You may think that the American dollar would buy more abroad but it is important to remember that the $1.25 line used to mark poverty level is based on the purchase power parity, or the relative price that the same grouping of goods would cost in different markets. Even with this in mind, my $1.79 cup of coffee that I’m drinking now would be more than unattainable for a person living below the poverty level.

So, keep in mind that $1.25 can make a difference. Thankfully, the number of people living in poverty is decreasing each year. With great effort, we can keep that trend going.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: NumbeoWorld Bank
Traditii Romania

In a new program, the World Bank is partnering with the Development Bank of Ethiopia to fund geothermal energy exploration in the country, which is extremely rich in geothermal resources that lay through the Great Rift Valley.

Up until recently, no geothermal energy projects have been pursued in Ethiopia due to high costs and lack of funding, but the new project will fund an initial $20 million to ignite such projects, with an additional $20 million to be given down the road. The agreement states that the World Bank will pledge $200 million towards developing Ethiopia’s energy infrastructure.

This is not the first energy investment the World Bank has made in Ethiopia; they gave $40 million to the country’s private sector for renewable energy pursuits last year. Initial funds will be put towards exploratory drilling to determine the potential of geothermal projects, and once more information is available, the World Bank will start accepting proposals from organizations and investors interested in developing geothermal projects and power plants within Ethiopia.

Other such geothermal projects have already been in the works by the African Development Bank, with geothermal programs slated for Kenya, Tanzania, and Djibouti. Professor Paul Younger of Glasgow University asserts that the promise for geothermal development in these areas of East Africa is great, with Kenya as the latest “success story.” Although projects in other areas are merely in the preliminary stages, Dr. Younger maintains that the energy industry in the region is developing quickly, and energy development in Eritrea and Uganda may even be possible in the future.

Along with rich geothermal resources, Ethiopia also has considerable hydropower potential of up to 45,000 MW, taking into consideration the great water and rainfall resources in the country. Hydropower already accounts for 86 percent of energy produced there, so officials recognize the need to diversify current energy sources and are aiming to harness the potential 5,000 MW of energy that geothermal technologies can offer. The country’s dependence on water resources for power are especially alarming in light of climate change issues, which include increasingly sporadic rainfall and drought conditions.

Although the country has come very far in energy development within the last few years, 85 percent of the population still lacks access to an affordable source of energy. The country is hoping to provide for the population and decrease dependency on hydropower through aggressive pursuits of renewable energy. As part of the five-year plan, Ethiopia is aiming to increase its energy portfolio fourfold by 2015.

Christina Mattos Kindlon

Source: The Guardian