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Moss served as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State 2007-2008 while on leave from CGD. Previously, he has been a Lecturer at the London School of Economics (LSE) and worked at the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and the Overseas Development Council. Moss is the author of numerous articles and books, including African Development: Making Sense of the Issues and Actors (2011) and Oil to Cash: Fighting the Resource Curse with Cash Transfers (2015). He holds a PhD from the University of London’s SOAS and a BA from Tufts University.
“An Aid-Institutions Paradox? Aid dependency and state building in sub-Saharan Africa,” with Nicolas van de Walle and Gunilla Pettersson, in William Easterly (ed.) Reinventing Aid, MIT Press, Cambridge, 2008.
“The Ghost of 0.7%: Origins and Relevance of the International Aid Target,” with Michael Clemens, International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 6, No. 1, 2007.
“Compassionate Conservatives of Conservative Compassionates? US political parties and bilateral foreign assistance to Africa”, with Markus Goldstein, Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1, October 2005.
“Is Africa’s Skepticism of Foreign Capital Justified? Preliminary Evidence from Firm Survey Data in East Africa”, with Vijaya Ramachandran and Manju Kedia Shah, in Magnus Blomstrom, Edward Graham, and Theodore Moran (eds), Does a Foreign Direct Investment Promote Development?, Institute of International Economics, Washington DC, May 2005.
“Irrational Exuberance or Financial Foresight? The Political Logic of Stock Markets in Africa”, in Sam Mensah & Todd Moss (eds), African Emerging Markets: Contemporary Issues, Volume II, African Capital Markets Forum, Accra, 2004.
“Stock Markets in Africa: Emerging Lions or White Elephants?” with Charles Kenny, World Development, Vol. 26, No. 5, May 1998.
“Africa Policy Adrift,” with David Gordon, Mediterranean Quarterly, Vol. 7, No. 3, Summer 1996.
“US Policy and Democratisation in Africa: The Limits of Liberal Universalism,” The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 33, No. 2, June 1995.
For over a decade, Boko Haram has waged a campaign of terror across northeastern Nigeria. In 2014, the kidnapping of 276 girls in Chibok shocked the world, giving rise to the #BringBackOurGirls movement. Yet Boko Haram’s campaign of violence against women and girls goes far beyond the Chibok abductions. From its inception, the group has systematically exploited women to advance its aims. Perhaps more disturbing still, some Nigerian women have chosen to become active supporters of the group, even sacrificing their lives as suicide bombers. These events cannot be understood without first acknowledging the long-running marginalization of women in Nigerian society. Having conducted extensive fieldwork throughout the region, Matfess provides a vivid and thought-provoking account of Boko Haram’s impact on the lives of Nigerian women, as well as the wider social and political context that fuels the group’s violence.
One of the most impressive things about Power Africa is that it has two clear and measurable goals: 30 gigawatts of new generation capacity and 60 million new connections for homes and businesses.
One of the least impressive things has been—at least up to now—how the government has been measuring what counts as a “new connection.” Some three-quarters of the Power Africa-affiliated connections so far have been solar lanterns or small single-household systems with very limited capacity. These tiny electrical systems that charge a cell phone or run a few lights are better than costly and dirty kerosene or old car batteries. And they’re far better than nothing. But they’re also not exactly what most people—or congressional authors of the Electrify Africa Act—would consider an electricity connection.
That’s why we should welcome Power Africa 2.0 and its emphasis on higher power solutions. As part of this, the team will soon halt counting solar lanterns as new connections, capping the total at 12 million or 20 percent of the target. (They’ll still track lantern distribution, but not as part of the connections goal.) This all fits with Power Africa’s sensible evolution toward encouraging a range of higher capacity home systems, physical connections to national grids, and the development of minigrids.
This positive shift is important because larger output electricity systems become necessary as consumers move up the energy ladder to higher power appliances (like my favorite refrigerator). Even more importantly, if people expect to use electricity for what economists call productive uses—and what regular people call jobs—they need a lot more than what small systems can currently deliver. And if African governments want to create prosperous economies that compete globally, they will need not just slightly more efficient small systems, but high-energy systems that provide orders of magnitude more energy.
Now that the US government is moving toward fixing this connection measurement problem and raising its energy ambitions, it should also use its influence to encourage others to aim higher on energy targets. In particular, the World Bank, the UN, and others still use the International Energy Agency (IEA) standard for energy access, which is a paltry 50 kWh per person per year in rural areas and 100 kWh for people living in cities. That’s also the yardstick being used to judge success against the UN’s SDG7 to achieve universal access to modern energy by 2030.
As a CGD Energy Access Targets Working Group concluded, this level of energy is more accurately an “extreme energy poverty line” than anything close to modern energy access. The working group called on the world to raise the bar.
Bravo to Power Africa 2.0 for moving in a positive direction that’s more reflective of how energy contributes to economic development over time. Let’s see the other energy policy actors step up too.
Africa’s energy deficits are well known. But it’s very rare to hear policymakers talk openly about nuclear power on the continent.
I’ve known about South Africa’s nuclear power sector and have heard a little about that country’s development of new pebble-bed technology. I knew that the Democratic Republic of the Congo and several other countries have small research reactors. I’ve been aware that France, whose own domestic electricity mix is heavily nuclear, depends on uranium from Niger, one of the most energy poor countries on the planet. And I even discovered a surprising African link to US nuclear technology: the original material for the Manhattan Project came from the Shinkolobwe mine in Congo (Ryker fans will know I use this historical nugget to drive a subplot in my thriller Minute Zero).
But I, like many of my development colleagues, never really thought seriously about nuclear power as an option for Africa’s energy future. Thinking back, I probably even dismissed it as a crazy idea.
Yet the more I’ve learned about nuclear power, including from this paper on the small modular reactor market in Ghana by a former colleague Priscilla Atansah, the more curious I became.
Clearly, African governments desire a lot more power for their economies and their interest in nuclear power appears to be growing. Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia, Kenya, and others are all pursuing nuclear power in one way or another. And Russia is actively marketing its own civilian nuclear technology in African countries.
Nuclear power is attractive because once built, it’s a reliable source of zero carbon power. Of course, nuclear power has a long list of downsides too, including security, regulatory and oversight requirements, and especially cost. At first glance, these might seem like insurmountable barriers, making Africa poorly suited for this type of power. And that’s probably correct for large traditional light-water reactors.
But what about small modular reactors? What about an array of potential next generation nuclear technologies not yet in the market? Might some of these have different requirements or cost structures that could make them more attractive in Africa’s energy-hungry emerging markets?
I honestly had no idea, but I wanted to find out. To start to get a better understanding of the status, opportunities, and challenges of nuclear power on the continent, CGD commissioned an overview paper from researchers at the Breakthrough Institute, a think tank in Oakland that specializes in technology and the environment. I think of the paper as a beginner’s guide to nuclear power for developmentistas.
My main takeaways from the paper:
Interest in nuclear power among African governments is stronger than many people realize.
Some of the new designs and technologies under development or expected in the marketplace soon might be particularly well-suited to the needs and conditions in many African markets, including prefabricated small modular reactors, floating reactors, and sealed micro-reactors.
None of these are shovel-ready yet. While the potential may be real, deployment is at least a decade away.
The peculiarities of financing construction of nuclear power projects, including the total absence of traditional infrastructure finance organizations like the World Bank, are likely to drive a lot of the decision making toward Chinese and Russian models.
Read the full paper here. And for more on this issue, I would also recommend this Titans of Nuclear podcast with one of the paper’s authors, Jessica Lovering.
This paper explores the feasibility of commercial nuclear power in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in light of advanced nuclear technologies and their potential to overcome some of the challenges to deployment.
On-Grid Customers Still Rely Heavily on Off-Grid Energy Technologies, and Off-Grid Customers Want On-Grid Electricity
Center for Global Development
HShulman@cgdev.org, (202) 674-8757
Washington – A new study released today by the Center for Global Development found that either grid electricity or off-grid solutions alone are currently inadequate to meet many African consumers’ modern energy demands. The survey of consumers in twelve African countries found that on-grid customers still rely heavily on off-grid solutions like generators for their daily lives, and that off-grid customers want access to on-grid electricity.
The researchers analyzed data from mobile phone-based surveys to assess energy service quality and demand in in twelve African countries: Benin, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo), Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The surveys were conducted between July 2015 and December 2016, and received responses from 39,000 consumers in 28 languages.
“Making electricity more accessible, reliable, and responsive to African demand across the continent should be a priority,” said Todd Moss, a co-author of the report and a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. “While many policymakers debate whether grid or off-grid solutions are most appropriate, African consumers don’t view these options as an either-or question. Customers who are on the grid want to be able to use off-grid electricity too. And customers who have off-grid power want access to grid electricity to meet growing demand.”
“Off-grid customers may appreciate the lights and basic appliances like phone chargers that off-grid systems can power, but want to move up the energy ladder toward higher power appliances like refrigerators enabled by a grid connection. At the same time, on-grid customers face a host of reliability issues and thus see off-grid options as an important backup.”
Key findings from the survey include:
Daily outages are a norm almost everywhere. Among those with access to grid electricity, at least half cited electricity outages at least once a day across almost all surveyed countries. Respondents in Mozambique, Ghana, and Zambia reported the highest prevalence of daily outages. The country with the lowest prevalence of frequent outages was Rwanda, where only 18 percent of respondents experienced multiple outages per day. In all countries, the vast majority reported at least one outage per week.
On-grid customers still rely heavily on generators, especially in Nigeria. Almost half of on-grid respondents in Nigeria relied on a generator during power outages – the highest of any other country.
Off-grid customers still desire grid electricity. In most countries, off-grid respondents are not completely satisfied by off-grid electricity solutions and retain a high demand for grid electricity.
Off-grid, non-generator electricity is inadequate for most respondents’ energy needs. A significant proportion of respondents across the surveyed countries reported that their off-grid electricity solution did not fulfill any of their power needs. This includes almost two thirds (65 percent) of Rwandans with off-grid, non-generator electricity.
In all countries, the majority desire a grid connection. Demand for the grid was highest in Zambia and Ghana, where over 50 percent said that they wanted an electrical connection very much. In all other countries except Senegal and Benin, demand appears to be high but less passionate; over two-thirds of respondents without an electric connection indicated that they wanted an electrical connection to the national grid either a little or very much.
Satisfaction with service from the grid varies widely. Reported satisfaction with grid electricity ran from Mozambique (74 percent satisfied) and Rwanda (71) at the high end to Ghana (19) and Zambia (27).
Connection costs and distance from the grid are the most common obstacles to grid electricity. When asked about the greatest obstacle to gaining access to the national grid, most respondents cited either the cost of electricity, the cost of connection, or the lack of proximity to the grid.
Demand is high for energy-intensive appliances, especially TVs. Off-grid households indicate a high demand for energy-intensive appliances, particularly televisions and refrigerators. The survey also asked respondents what appliance they would like to purchase if they gained a grid connection (refrigerator, television, hot plate, radio, or iron). Televisions are the most common aspirational purchase across most surveyed countries.
You can read the full study at https://www.cgdev.org/publication/what-can-we-learn-about-energy-access-and-demand-mobile-phone-surveys.
In the push for electricity access in the developing world, many policymakers are trying to figure out where on-grid or off-grid solutions make the most sense. My new CGD paper with colleagues Ben Leo and Jared Kalow asks 39,000 consumers in 12 African countries about their energy use and demand. The big takeaway: African consumers don’t view grid versus off-grid as a binary question.
Among our findings:
Off-grid (non-generator) electricity is largely inadequate. A significant proportion of respondents reported that their off-grid electricity solution did not fulfill any of their power needs, including almost two-thirds of Rwandans with off-grid systems.
Off-grid customers still exhibit strong demand for grid electricity. In most countries, off-grid respondents reported a high desirability for grid electricity. In fact, demand for a grid connection is significantly higher among off-grid households than those with no electricity at all.
On-grid customers rely heavily on generators. For example, nearly half of on-grid Nigerians also report generator reliance.
While these findings undermine a key assumption implicit in the on-grid versus off-grid question, they make sense given energy consumption patterns. Off-grid customers may appreciate the lights and basic appliances (e.g., phone charger, fan, small TV) that off-grid systems can power, but want to move up the energy ladder toward higher power appliances (refrigerator, larger TV) enabled by a grid connection. At the same time, on-grid customers face a host of reliability issues and thus see off-grid options as an important backup.
So what might this all imply for policymakers or initiatives like Power Africa?
We shouldn’t assume rural means off-grid and urban means on-grid. Better information about actual consumer behavior and demand would present a more nuanced picture and a variety of solutions.
Low-energy off-grid solutions should expect growing consumer demand for higher-energy systems over time.
Grid reliability is a major problem.
We conducted phone-based surveys on energy access and demand in twelve African countries. From these findings, we draw several potential policy implications. First, both grid electricity and off-grid solutions currently are inadequate to meet many African consumers’ modern energy demands. Second, grid and off-grid electricity are viewed by consumers as complementary, rather than competing, solutions to meet energy demand. Third, a market exists for off-grid solutions even among connected, urban Africans.
***This is not a CGD event and will take place in Hilton Head, South Carolina***
The World Affairs Council of Hilton Head presents Africa On the Rise: How the Forgotten Continent Is More Important Than Ever to the United States. In the mind of many Americans, Africa invokes images or famine or Blackhawk Down. But the continent is increasingly democratic and is now the home to six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world. Investors from London, New York, Shanghai, and Dubai are looking afresh at opportunities in Africa, especially to meet rapidly expanding consumer demand. At the same time, U.S. national security—including concerns about the spread of Al Qaeda, international criminal networks, and cross-border disease—is also pushing Africa higher up the U.S. foreign policy agenda. In short, Africa is more important to the United States than ever before. President Clinton launched a major trade initiative with Africa, while President Bush made major new commitments to working with African partners to promote security and health. Yet, the Obama Administration seems to have lost momentum. The president’s June trip to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania along with a recently announced energy initiative might be enough to turn things around. Moss, a former senior State Department official, will discuss the challenges of a rising Africa facing American foreign policy.
The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), the latest phase of debt reduction for poor countries from the World Bank, the IMF, and the African Development Bank, will come close to full debt reduction for at least 19 and perhaps as many as 40 countries. Debt relief proponents see it as a momentous leap in the battle against global poverty. CGD research fellow Todd Moss argues that actual gains in poverty reduction will be modest and slow.
We’ve been surprised at all the attentionTodd’s new fridge has gotten recently—including comments saying the comparison against African per capita electricity consumption isn’t fair because many of those people don’t have refrigerators. Exactly our point!
Sparse grids and limited incomes make it hard to own or operate modern appliances, but plenty of Africans would consume a whole lot more energy if it was available. Regular rolling blackouts suggest that countries aren’t producing enough energy to meet current demand, let alone what would be necessary to achieve universal access by 2030 (possibly a post-2015 MDG).
Asking “how much energy production does Africa need to meet demand?” is not too different from asking “how much food should Africa grow to end hunger?” Any estimates require big assumptions about baseline data, undernourishment thresholds, nutrition gaps, average diet composition, availability of land, seeds, and fertilizer, seasonal growing periods, efficiency of distribution networks, spoilage rates, and so on. The result would be highly imprecise, but would provide some sense of the magnitude.
To estimate unmet energy demand, we made a series of assumptions using averages, conjectures, and imperfect data. On top of that, there are non-obvious conversions between power usage (measured as a rate over time) and energy capacity (the maximum electricity that can be produced or used at any one instant). Perhaps the most critical assumption concerns the definition of modern energy access (see a terrific essay on this question by Pielke and Morgan Bazilian). Does access mean being able to turn on two lightbulbs? A television? A fridge? What about an air conditioner? Is the goal to reach the IEA’s minimum “energy for all” threshold of 250 kWh/year, which is about the same as the average consumption in Bangladesh? Or is Tunisia a better model at 1260 kWh/yr? Or South Africa at 4800 kWh/yr? (Or, gulp, 13,395 kWh/yr for the average American?)
We’ve made an attempt at such an estimate here for current demand in the six countries targeted by President Obama’s new signature initiative, Power Africa. In each we use three different thresholds: the IEA’s minimum and the average consumption profiles for Tunisia and South Africa. (The full, nerdy explanation of the demand model is explained below.) Admittedly, it’s very, very rough, but the size of the gap is massive.
The figures, we hope, speak for themselves. Our immediate take-aways are:
As these countries grow more populated and richer (they are all posting impressive real GDP growth rates), the demand for electricity is going to be significantly greater than the modest targets currently envisioned by the international community.
Nigeria’s ambitious electricity expansion plans to reach 10,000 MW are only the tip of the iceberg. To reach Tunisia-level consumption, it will need at least five times that level of generation.
Even if Power Africa is a success, there’s a whole lot more pent-up demand out there!
Explanation of estimates
The figures show the various amounts of energy required to satisfy demand at differing levels of consumption in each of the Power Africa countries. It compares the Energy for All (“E4All”) threshold of 250kWh per capita (which, as their minimum for rural areas, serves as a lower bound estimate) with the actual average consumption levels for Tunisia (1260 kWh per capita) and South Africa (4800 kWh per capita). This presents a distinct illustration of the disparity between the definitions of energy access. For example, under the “E4All” projection, an individual could only power two standard 60W light-bulbs. Under the midrange “Tunisia” projection, an individual could power four light-bulbs as well as a fan, TV, and electric stove. Finally, under the “South Africa” projection, an individual could power all that and also a standard refrigerator, 50L water heater, washing machine, and one AC window unit.
The first figure shows the levels of current (i.e. most recent, 2010) consumption vs. projections of current unmet demand if universal access were extended today. The second figure shows current consumption against future demand (at 2030) due to population growth. The projections were estimated using the following models:
Net consumption was converted from kWh, as reported by the US EIA, to MW. This provides the estimated net MW utilized by each country in one year. The kWh to MW conversion follows the model used by the World Bank.
Current unmet demand refers to the MW required to extend the specified level of electricity consumption to the remainder of the population currently without access. The projection reflects an estimated load factor of 0.62, which is the average of load factors across several middle-income countries (Tunisia, South Africa, and Indonesia). The model also incorporates the IEA-recommended minimum 20% additional reserve capacity, in order to avoid load shedding. For example, for the Energy for All threshold level of 250 kWh/person, the unmet demand was calculated as follows:
Future unmet demand refers to the MW required to satisfy an increase in demand due to population growth on top of existing unmet demand. I.e., the additional electric capacity that is needed to provide the specified level of consumption for each person added to the population between 2010 and 2030 (using UN medium variant projections). Again, the model reflects a load factor of 0.62 and incorporates a 20% minimum reserve capacity. For example, again using the Energy for All threshold level of 250 kWh/person, the future unmet demand was calculated as follows:
 Tallapragada. Prasad, Maria Shkaratan, Ada Karina Izaguirre, Jaakko Helleranta, Saifur Rahman, & Sten Bergman, World Bank, (2009). Monitoring performance of electric utilities: indicators and benchmarking in sub-saharan africa. http://www.esmap.org/sites/esmap.org/files/P099234_AFR_Monitoring Performance of Electric Utilities_Tallapragada_0.pdf
The future of development policy is in development finance. Developing countries need aid less and less as their incomes rise and economies grow. What they need now is private investment and finance. US development policy, however, has failed to bring its development finance tools in line with this reality. Related US efforts have not been deployed in an efficient or strategic manner because authorities are outdated, staff resources are insufficient, and tools are dispersed across multiple agencies.
Other players are doing more. Well-established European development finance institutions (DFIs) are providing integrated services for businesses, and these services cover debt and equity financing, risk mitigation, and technical assistance. Moreover, emerging-market actors — including China, India, Brazil, and Malaysia — have dramatically increased financing activities in developing regions such as Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Reliance on natural resource revenues, particularly oil, is often associated with bad governance, corruption, and poverty. Worried about the effect of oil on Alaska, Governor Jay Hammond had a simple yet revolutionary idea: let citizens have a direct stake. Thirty years later, Hammond’s vision is still influencing oil policies throughout the world.
Ghana’s rapid economic growth and the recent GDP rebasing exercise put Ghana suddenly above the income limit for IDA eligibility. This paper considers the implications of the country’s new middle-income status.
To enhance efficiency of public spending in oil-rich economies, this paper proposes that some of the oil revenues be transferred directly to citizens, and then taxed to finance public expenditures. The argument is that spending that is financed by taxation—rather than by resource revenues accruing directly to the government—is more likely to be scrutinized by citizens and hence subject to greater efficiency.
By 2025, the number of IDA client countries will likely shrink substantially and primarily be smaller in size and overwhelmingly African. This working paper predicts how these changes will impact IDA's operational and financial models and recommends the World Bank begin addressing the implications of these developments sooner rather than later.
Todd Moss proposes that countries seeking to manage new natural resource wealth should consider distributing income directly to citizens as cash transfers. Beyond serving as a powerful and proven policy intervention, cash transfers may also mitigate the corrosive effect natural resource revenue often has on governance.
Zimbabwe faces a daunting array of obstacles to full economic recovery, including a crippling external debt burden. Todd Moss and Benjamin Leo urge that the current government must address the legacy of debt arrears and manage external debt in order to generate opportunities for reconstruction and growth.
CGD vice president and senior fellow Todd Moss and reasearch assistant Lauren Young propose direct cash distribution of Ghana's oil profits to help the country avoid the natural resource curse. One positive effect of the plan would be to strenghten democratic pressure on the government to be good stewards of the resource.
Africa receives only a tiny fraction of global investments in emerging markets. But the problem is not that fund managers are scared away by a seemingly steady stream of bad news out of Africa, nor is a general marketing of Africa to global investors the solution. Instead the authors of this new CGD working paper find that the small size of African markets and low levels of liquidity are a binding deterrent for foreign institutional investors. Drawing on firm surveys to explore why African firms remain small, the authors offer practical recommendations for increasing portfolio investment in Africa. Learn more