Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) organised a press briefing on 22 November 2017 in CIRDAP auditorium, Dhaka to launch report subtitled ‘Transformational Energy Access’, prepared by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), coinciding with the report’s global launch on the same day.
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Published in The Daily Star on Thursday, 23 November 2017
Energy crisis a threat to SDGs
UNCTAD says in its report on least developed countries
Star Business Report
More than 50 percent of the enterprises in Bangladesh identify the lack of consistent access to energy as the major barrier to higher production, according to a new report of the United Nations.
The industrial sector is responsible for 21 percent of the energy demand in Bangladesh, with the residential sector accounting for the lion’s share, says the “Least Developed Countries Report 2017: Transformational Energy Access” of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
“Productive use of modern energy is just as important as household use,” said Fahmida Khatun, executive director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, while making a presentation on the report yesterday.
The CPD, which has been unveiling the Unctad LDC reports in Bangladesh since 2006, released the report at the Cirdap auditorium in Dhaka. The theme of this year’s report is “Transformational Energy Access”.
In Bangladesh, access to electricity was nearly 60 percent in 2014, which is the lowest among all the nine Asian LDCs, according to the report.
The access to power rose to 76 percent on the back of an increase in power production by three times in the last nine years, according to the power division of the government.
When asked why the 2014 data was used, Fahmida explained that when many countries are compared data on all nations cannot be found. The 2014 data was used to make a comparison.
“Of course, I won’t say that Bangladesh’s progress has been properly reflected in the comparison. But there is a trend, which does not change overnight,” she said.
In Bangladesh, 53 percent of the companies said they face trouble because of a lack of electricity. It is 12 percent in Bhutan, 6 percent in Cambodia and 7 percent in Myanmar, according to the report.
“Energy access alone is not enough in LDCs. What is needed is transformational energy access,” said the report.
Fahmida said energy is a major component of production costs. “We will have to supply energy at an affordable cost. If we can make electricity available for all it will be helpful in attaining SDGs.”
According to the report, the LDCs are falling far behind the rest of the developing world in terms of getting power to homes and businesses.
While they have made great strides in recent years, achieving the global goal of universal access to energy by 2030 will require a 3.5 times increase in their annual rate of electrification.
Achieving Sustainable Development Goal-7 is not only a question of satisfying households’ basic energy needs, Unctad Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi said in Geneva, ahead of the report’s publication, according to a statement distributed at the CPD event.
“That in itself has valuable welfare implications, but we need to go beyond,” he added.
The Unctad said more than 40 percent of businesses operating in the LDCs are held back by inadequate, unreliable and unaffordable electricity.
On average, they suffer 10 power outages per month, each lasting around five hours, and this costs them 7 percent of the value of their sales.
Achieving universal access to modern energy in LDCs by 2030 will be costly. Based on previous global estimates, the report puts the cost at $12 billion to $40 billion per year. Transformational energy access would still cost more.
This far exceeds the resources currently available, the report says.
Total official development assistance to the energy sector is just $3 billion per year. Domestic resources for public investment are scarce in most LDCs, and most also face serious limits to borrowing without risking an unsustainable debt burden.
Private investors show little enthusiasm for investments in electricity infrastructure in LDCs, which entail large irreversible costs, long project cycles and slow payback.
Governments could raise extra capital by developing domestic debt markets or tapping into alternative sources of funding, such as impact investors, infrastructure funds and, in some LDCs, the population living abroad.
Better still, the report says, would be for international donors to honour their longstanding commitment to providing at least 0.15-0.20 percent of their national income in aid.
Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, could have a revolutionary effect in rural areas – the home to 82 percent of those without power in LDCs.
Utility-scale renewable technologies capable of feeding the grids and mini-grids are necessary not only to power homes but also to grow businesses and industries, according to the report. “They need to be deployed rapidly.”
Speaking at the report launch, Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of the CPD, said huge investment has been made in energy and power in Bangladesh in the last one decade, increasing production and availability, but challenges still remain.
The price of energy would play a critical role in Bangladesh’s journey towards achieving the SDGs, he said.
“Financing has to be done in a way that we can produce energy cheaply and supply the energy at cheaper rates to producers and consumers.”
But if the energy price is higher the cost of production will be higher, which will erode competitiveness.
Bangladesh has to see whether it can make investment in the energy sector smartly and borrow cheaply from international sources, Rahman said.
“We will have to make the most of the investment through public-private partnership locally and we will have to see whether we can do it well, maintaining governance and completing projects in time,” he added.
According to the report, the urban area in Bangladesh dominates in terms of electrification rate, but it is still low compared to world average. On the other hand, half of the rural population has access to electricity.
“So, we will have to heed to the rural areas more,” said Khondaker Golam Moazzem, research director of the CPD.
“We may be able to ensure universal energy access in 2041 but pricing will be an issue at the time. We are already getting hints that energy prices will go up.”
LDCs such as Bhutan, Cambodia and Vanuatu have boosted their productivity significantly by using electricity whereas Bangladesh is in the midway.
“We have increased our electricity production. But, we are not being able to supply adequate and reliable electricity to companies so they can run their operations unhindered,” he added.
Bangladesh would be up for LDC graduation consideration next year and is due to leave the group in 2024, said Towfiqul Islam Khan, a research fellow of the CPD.
Published in Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday, 22 November 2017
Access to electricity: Bangladesh at the bottom among Asian LDCs
Mahadi Al Hasnat
The “Least Developed Countries Report 2017” report was launched in Bangladesh on Wednesday
“The Least Developed Countries Report 2017” report was launched in Bangladesh at an event organized by the Dhaka-based think tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) at the CIRDAP auditorium.
Citing the report, CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun said in 2014, nearly 60% of the overall Bangladeshi population had access to electricity – the lowest among all the Asian LDCs.
In contrast, two other Asian LDCs, Nepal and Bhutan, are on track to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) of universal access to modern energy.
“At this rate, the challenge of reaching the SDG of universal access to modern energy by 2030 will be substantially greater for Bangladesh,” she said.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report identified a huge discrepancy between the country’s rural and urban populations, with around 84% of the urban area inhabitants enjoying access to electricity.
However, the report says this figure is still low compared to the world average.
Experts at the launch event on Wednesday urged the government to strengthen Bangladesh’s electricity system and address electricity governance and finance to ensure power supply to both home and business users at cheap rates.
“Bangladesh has significantly increased electricity production over the last 10 years, but there are still some challenges,” said Prof Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of CPD.
“The country needs to increase energy production to achieve the target of being a developed country by 2041.”
‘LDCs lagging behind in terms of access to energy’
According to the report, 47 LDCs are falling far behind the rest of the developing world in connecting homes and business to electricity and achieving universal access to energy.
CPD Executive Director Fahmida said: “Achieving universal access to modern energy globally is critically dependent on achieving it in LDCs. However, for most of them, doing so by 2030 will be an enormous challenge.”
The report of the study was first unveiled in Geneva, Switzerland on Tuesday, when UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi said achieving universal access to energy was not just a question of satisfying households’ basic energy needs.
“For electrification to transform LDC economics, modern energy provisions needs to spur productivity increases and unlock the production of more goods and services,” he said in a press release.
Citing the report, Kituyi said more than 40% percent of businesses operating in LDCs were held back by “inadequate, unreliable and unaffordable” electricity.
On average, they suffer 10 power outages per month, each lasting around five hours, and this costs them 7% percent of the value of their sales, the press statement said.
While, on average, 10% percent of people in other developing countries lack access to electricity, this remains the case for more than 60% of the populations of LDCs.
Furthermore, LDCs as a group have just 8% of the capacity of other developing economies to generate electricity per person, and barely 2% of that of wealthier nations, the press release said.
Published in The Independent on Wednesday, 22 November 2017
LDCs need $40b to achieve universal power access: CPD
CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun presents a key note paper on the occasion of launching the UNCTAD’s LDCs Report 2017 at a press briefing at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital yesterday. Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of CPD, was also present. Photo : courtesy
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), a civil society think tank, yesterday said the Least Development Countries (LDCs) needed up to $40 billion of investment to attain the universal access to electricity by 2030.
“To achieve universal access to electricity in all LDCs by 2030, they require some $12 to $40 billion,” said CPD Executive Director Dr Fahmida Khatun while presenting a key note paper at a press briefing at CIRDAP auditorium in the capital on the occasion of launching the UNCTAD’s LDCs Report 2017.
Professor Mustafizur Rahman, distinguished fellow of CPD, said that access to affordable transformational energy will play a vital role in terms of securing economic growth, social inclusion and environmental balance if Bangladesh wants to achieve the SDGs by 2030 and to become a developed country by 2041.
CPD recommended the LDCs for harnessing international cooperation to ensure affordable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.
It also urged for good governance framework in LDCs to ensure transformational energy access to all.
Dr Fahmida Khatun said, the LDCs will have to put more pressure on the developed countries for rendering assistance in power sector as they (developed countries) are the ones more responsible for the climate change.
Quoting the report, she said that achieving the target of LDC was made by the World Bank in the energy and energy sectors of Asia, which has made many progress in Nepal and Bhutan.
They reached almost target in connection with electricity connection.
But Bangladesh is far behind. Nearly 60 percent of the people in Bangladesh came under the power connection. But by 2030, to achieve the target of SDGs, Bangladesh will have to provide at least 20 to 30 percent new power connections every year.
However, the report said that the use of the information received in the light of the year 2014 has been used. Fahmida Khatun said that although the data used in the report three years ago, the situation will not have much discrepancy.
She said the developed countries are bound to provide technology and financial assistance to the LDCs.
On Bangladesh, she said, the government has to work more to harness the international fund to meet the challenge of the country.
In her key note paper she said though the urban area in Bangladesh dominates in terms of electrification rate, it is still low compared to world average adding “Only half of the rural population in Bangladesh has access to electricity.”
Distinguished fellow of CPD Prof Mustafizur Rahman said the country needs to increase the production of energy if it eyes to achieve the target of being a developed country by 2041.
Bangladesh needs to bring socio-economic structural changes and for which the country has to come on industrial and service sectors reducing its dependency from agricultural sector for being a developed country by 2041 and for this the country has to increase the production of energy, he added.
“Around 67 per cent of energy in our country is consumed in household sectors while we have to reverse it and increase this amount for the industrial and service sectors,” said Mustafizur Rahman.
He said Bangladesh also has to reduce its dependency from gas as fuel by exploring other sources of fuel to meet the demand.