Lighting up rural Africa: How much do the poor value electricity and can they afford paying for it?

A field experiment conducted in rural Rwanda evaluates the revealed willingness to pay for different off-grid solar technologies

Luciane Lenz and Jörg Peters
The authors are researchers at RWI – Leibniz-Institute for Economic Research, and part of the Sustainable Energy Transitions Initiative (SETI) network.

Imagine the following: it is 6 a.m. and you wake up just as the first rays of sunshine stream in. You light your kerosene lamp and a pungent smell starts to spread. Yesterday, you managed to charge your cellphone with the barber’s car battery. It took you 50 minutes by foot and ten cents, even though you only had a dollar to spend for the day. If that old cellphone still has charge remaining, you may use it to tune in to the radio. There is no refrigerator, TV, computer or electric cooker you may avail to start your day. Indeed, you will most likely not use any electronic appliance today, either at home or at work. This is the daily routine for 1.1 billion people in developing countries who lack of access to modern electricity.

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Transportation Policy Takes Front Seat in Combating Urban Air Pollution

Samantha Childress and Lauren Masatsugu

Many of us have experienced the frustration of idling in long lines of traffic, inching forward at what seems like an interminable rate. Unfortunately, traffic congestion like this is a daily occurrence in many of the world’s fastest growing cities, such as Mexico City, Bangkok, Istanbul, and Rio de Janeiro. Not only are congested roads an annoying inconvenience and a major waste of time, they also significantly contribute to poor regional air quality by raising concentrations of PM, CO, NOx, and ground-level ozone. In fact, a recent study finds that traffic contributes to 47.6% of Beijing’s declining air quality. That same study also concludes that air pollution worsens disproportionately as traffic congestion escalates. Continue reading

The customer is always right? Household preferences and adoption of energy technologies

Hannah Girardeau and Faraz Usmani

If you’re looking to replace your washing machine, have no fear: at least one major retailer stocks six different types of washers, with eight different sets of features, from nine different brands. Do you like high-capacity front-loading washers? Perhaps you want your washer to also function as a dryer? Or a steamer? You’re covered!

Unfortunately, this is not always how implementing agencies promoting potentially lifesaving technologies in developing countries have operated. Instead, many adopt what may be best described as a “one-washer-fits-all” approach: promoting one device, which is presumed to be effective in all contexts and under all conditions. What follows is an all-too-familiar outcome: scarce resources spent promoting devices that are fundamentally unsuited to local contexts or customer preferences and which are ultimately abandoned—or sometimes used for entirely different purposes!

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Fueling Environment for Development: Pattanayak at EfD workshop in Chile

The EfD Chilean Center, Research Nucleus in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the University of Concepción, organized for the fourth time, a discussion workshop on the design of public policies on the use of natural and environmental resources. The objective of the workshop was to develop a scientific discussion to think about the state of the art in Natural Resource Economics and the Environment in Chile and contribute to maintain a long-run collaborative relationship with policy makers working in the areas of fisheries management, air pollution control and climate change.

Subhrendu Pattanayak presented the keynote lecture on energy use and its impacts on household’s health. Pattanayak also presented evidence from the paper, ‘Fetal attractions? Impacts of early-life exposure to forest fires on long-term outcomes of Indonesian children.’ The workshop was held on March 18-20, 2015 in Termas de Catillo, Chile.

Visit EfD’s website for details.