In many respects, Bhutan has been a development success story. Its people have benefitted from decades of sharp reductions in poverty combined with impressive improvements in health and education. The country is a global model in environmental conservation. It is the first carbon negative country; Bhutan’s forests, which cover over 70% of the country, absorb more carbon dioxide than is produced by its emissions.
The Kingdom of Happiness also must grapple with the reality of managing budgets, creating infrastructure, and preparing its citizens to be able to create and take advantage of jobs of the future. To do that, we are working with closely with Bhutan to build the foundations for a more prosperous future through the cultivation of a vibrant private sector economy and supporting green development.
At the same time, Bhutan has invested generously in hydropower energy production to create a reliable and lasting source of green energy for its people. It also benefits from exporting excess electricity to neighboring India, whose energy needs continue to increase at a rapid pace with their growing economy.
In large part due to the hydropower investments, Bhutan’s public debt was 107 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as of March 2017. Hydropower external debt was at 77 percent of GDP with non-hydropower external debt accounting for 22 percent of GDP. Questions have arisen on whether this level of debt is sustainable and what should be done to address it.
Evaluating the optimal way to expand electricity access across a country is difficult, especially in countries where energy related data is scarce and not centralized. Geospatial plans informing universal electricity access strategies and investments can easily take 18 to 24 months to complete.
A team working on a national electrification plan for Zambia last December did not have that much time.
They faced a six-month deadline to develop a plan, or they would miss out on a funding window, said Jenny Hasselsten, an energy specialist at the World Bank brought in to help with the electrification project in partnership with the government of Zambia.
When a mini-grid project came to Atigagome, a remote island in the middle of Ghana’s Lake Volta, the kerosene lamps people had been using became decorative pieces that were hung on the walls—a reminder that the island’s days of darkness were over. But the village not only gave up kerosene lamps and candles: it also attracted people like Seth Hormuku, who migrated to the island once a stable electricity supply was being provided to the local community.
The 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change was preceded by analysis covering the science and viability of response measures, including both adaptation to the impacts of climate change and measures to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Mitigation issues typically covered the economic, policy, technology and sustainability implications of reducing emissions, but relatively little towards understanding the implications of a low-carbon future.
For this reason, the World Bank decided to explore and study which minerals and metals will likely see an increase in demand to achieve a low-carbon future. Using wind, solar and energy storage batteries as proxies, “The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low-Carbon Future” report is one of the Bank’s contributions towards ensuring this topic is given its rightful place in the ongoing global climate change dialogue.
Based on climate and technology scenarios developed out of the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Energy Technology Perspective, the World Bank developed a set of commodities demand projections up to 2050. We did so by providing best estimates on the uptake of three discrete climate-benefit technologies – wind, solar and energy storage batteries – required to help meet three different global warming scenarios of 20C, 40C, and 6oC.
These technologies represent only a sub-set of a much broader suite of technologies and transmission systems required to truly deliver on a low-carbon future. Nevertheless, the findings are significant.
Africa’s urban areas are booming, experiencing a high urban growth rate over the last two decades at 3.5% per year. This growth rate is expected to hold into 2050. With this growth, street food is going to become one of the most important components of African diets. The formal sector will just not be able to keep up!
Enter my company, Musana Carts, which tackles the #FoodRevolution challenge from the end of the food value chain. Musana Carts, which currently operates in Uganda, streamlines and improves the production and consumption of street food.
Why did we decide to focus on street food?
Despite the illegal status of unlicensed street food vendors, who are regularly evicted from markets, street vending is an age old industry. Low income families spend up to 40% of their income in street food (Nri).
People eat street food because it is affordable, abundant, delicious and has a local and emotional flavor. Street food plays a key role in the development of cities. It is the one place where the posh and the poor from all walks of life meet and forget their social differences for the few seconds it takes to savor a snack.
Street foods tell a story. They capture the flavor of a nation and the pride of a tribe: in Uganda, the rolex, a rolled chapatti with an omelet, has been named one of the fastest growing African street foods. The minister for tourism made it the new Ugandan tourism product.
Unlike many other places, though, cities in Afghanistan face an added, complex layer of challenge—conflict.
Instability in large areas of the country is forcing refugees and internally displaced people into cities—particularly the capital city of Kabul. The thing is: Kabul doesn’t yet have adequate infrastructure and capacity to effectively host these “newcomers.”
What can be done?
To help Afghan cities better address the “3-way challenge” of urbanization, conflict, and forced displacement, the World Bank is working on a series of projects that aim to:
- Provide basic services to selected—mostly informal—neighborhoods in Kabul, such as roads, sanitation, water, and lighting;
- Support Kabul to improve its municipal finance management systems;
- Support the institutional and policy framework for urban development in Afghanistan;
- Strengthen city planning, management and service delivery in five provincial capital cities.
In this video, you will learn more from World Bank Senior Director Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez (@Ede_WBG) and Practice Manager Catalina Marulanda on to better host refugees and other displaced populations.
An intense debate continues on how best to provide electricity to the 1.1 billion people currently without access to it -- of whom 600 million are living in Sub-Saharan Africa, many of them in rural areas. According to a 2015 IEG evaluation, low-access countries received about 3.6 billion USD per year into the electricity sector from all sources over 2000 – 2014. The bulk of these funds has gone into extension of the traditional electricity grid. The IEG report also states that to achieve universal grid access in current low-access countries by 2030 will require over 17 billion USD per year, including about 12 billion USD per year for new transmission and distribution capacity. An additional 20 billion USD per year will be needed to address current supply inadequacies and expand generation capacity to meet growing demand. The largest share of this investment would be in Sub-Saharan Africa, given the size of the population without access and the challenges of making effective infrastructure investments there (Foster and Briceño-Garmendia, 2010).
Energy commodity prices declined 6 percent in June, led by a 7.5 percent plunge in oil, the World Bank’s Pink Sheet said.
Agriculture prices dropped nearly 2 percent, with most groups easing, including food and beverages (down 1 percent each) and raw materials (off 3.5 percent). Fertilizer prices gained 2 percent.
Metals and mineral prices slid 1 percent, led by an 8 percent tumble in iron ore prices. Precious metals prices increased 1 percent.
The Pink Sheet is a monthly report that monitors commodity price movements.
Electrification has expanded in all regions and in both urban and rural areas. South Asia has driven global declines, with just 28 percent of rural dwellers lacking electricity in 2014. In most regions, electrification has outpaced population growth. An exception is Sub-Saharan Africa: 134 million more people in rural areas lacked access in 2014 than in 1994. Read more in the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals and in a new feature on "Solar Powers India's Clean Energy Revolution"