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ExxonMobil announced the discovery of two more massive oil fields off the coast of Guyana last month. If back-of-the-envelope estimates of around $5 billion of oil revenue per year are correct, that equates to around $6,410 USD per person—far more than the current GDP per capita of $4,655 USD. This wall of cash could be transformative or it could create a rash of new problems.
For the past 18 months, CGD has incubated the Energy for Growth Hub, a new initiative dedicated to the idea that energy should be an enabler, not a barrier, to human potential. The Hub is now ready to fly on its own.
Mobile phones provide a useful insight for energy: not that you can leapfrog a modern power system, but that most energy use happens out of sight. In fact, less than 1% of the energy needed for a smartphone is used by the phone.
While energy advocates have mostly focused on the 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa that lack access to electricity at home, the region’s power shortages are especially damaging to firms. Companies across the continent suffer from unreliable power supplies, affecting productivity, employment, and growth.
Eighteen months ago, we blogged here about Kenya’s superfast electricity connection rate. The country had grown from 27 percent to 55 percent access in just three years, putting themselves on a fast-track toward near universal access by 2020. While this lightning progress was exciting, new research suggests that aggressive expansion may come with downsides, too.
On July 30, Zimbabweans will vote for the first time ever without Robert Mugabe on the ballot. Even before election day, there are very serious concerns about the validity of the vote. Vanguard Africa’s Jeffrey Smith and I wrote in the Mail & Guardian about eight reasons to worry, including poll manipulation, voter intimidation, interference by the military, and more. In totality, these problems already skew the outcome so greatly that they likely have already invalidated the vote.