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Last Friday (hmmm…), the State Department announced that Secretary Kerry will travel to sub-Saharan Africa April 29-May 5, his first visit to the sub-continent as Secretary of State. First stop is Addis Ababa to meet with the African Union and the Ethiopian government “to discuss efforts to advance peace and democracy in the region”. Next up is Kinshasa to “discuss how the DRC government’s progress in neutralizing some of the dozens of dangerous armed groups that victimize the Congolese people can be consolidated and how to best advance the DRC’s democratization and long-term stability.” Last stop is Luanda to “commend President dos Santos for Angola’s leadership of…the Great Lakes peace process.”
We need to get ready for a world of a whole lot more energy. Recognizing and embracing this reality is a more practical starting point for meeting the development and environmental challenges that we face. That’s the bottom-line of Our High Energy Planet, a report by an eclectic mix of thirteen authors released today by the Breakthrough Institute and Arizona State University.
So, if transparency is good for development, what about development think tanks? Spurred in part by Transparify and the frank constructive discussions about think tank strategy by Enrique Mendizabal’s On Think Tanks blog and Andrew Selee’s book What Should Think Tanks Do?, we also wanted to up our game.
In what was perhaps another sign that the challenge of energy poverty is finding a voice in Congress, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing recently on electricity access in the 21st Century.
Energy poverty is an endemic and crippling problem; nearly 600 million people in Africa live without access to any power, which also means no access to safer and healthier electric cooking and heating, powered health centers and refrigerated medicines, light to study at night, or electricity to run a business. Here’s the situation in the 6 countries chosen to be part of President Obama’s Power Africa Initiative, home to nearly 1/3 of the continent’s population.
Over at the Council on Foreign Relations website, Michael Levi posted a reply to our recent paper on estimating the tradeoffs between OPIC power generation investments based upon natural gas and renewable sources. We are grateful to Michael for his thoughtful comments and for instigating a sensible discussion of the underlying issues.