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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.
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 paper 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.
Sometime around 2045, Nigeria’s population will pass the United States in size. Nigeria isalready the world’s most under-powered country in the world relative to its income—nearly 80 percent below global trends. As large as the power gap is today, what will Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity look like in 30 years?
Are some countries too poor to consume a lot more energy? Or is income growth being held back by a lack of reliable and affordable electricity? While there is a strong relationship between energy consumption and income, the direction of causality is often far less clear. One way to estimate unmet demand may be to try to compare pairs of countries—e.g., how much additional energy does Kenya need to reach the level of Tunisia?
In the twelve months to June 2016, nearly 1.3 million Kenyan households were connected to the grid for the first time. This impressive feat pushed Kenya’s national electricity connectivity rate to 55 percent from just 27 percent in 2013, one of the fastest connection increases recorded in the region. These latest connections illustrate the Kenyan government’s commitment to a goal of achieving universal energy access by 2020.
We know very little about what a Trump administration will do about longstanding US efforts to combat global hunger, disease, and poverty. But here are five reasons Power Africa should appeal to a new White House team presumably focused on cutting waste and promoting business.
Power Africa has barely gotten started and now faces a whole new administration, with its own ideas and its own priorities. The biggest risk to Power Africa is loss of momentum. As a progress check, an early analysis of the transactions pipeline, and input to the next White House, CGD assessed Power Africa along eight dimensions. Here’s a summary.
Yesterday the UK government formally launched its much-awaited Energy Africa campaign, which aims to accelerate electricity access for rural Africans. In a surprise move, DfID’s new plans include only support for small-scale solar power solutions. Typically these systems provide just enough power for a LED light bulb or two and a cellphone charger (see here and here for a few DfID favorites).