Leaders in developing countries are increasingly calling out the West for holding development back.
The latest example is Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month made an impassioned defence of her country’s energy plans.
'This power plant is necessary for our development' – Bangladeshi PM makes a passionate plea for her country's right to modern electricity.
Posted by Why Electricity Matters on Monday, February 6, 2017
Bangladesh, historically one of the poorest countries in Asia, aims to reach “middle-income country” status by 2021 and is planning to abolish extreme poverty – defined as living on $1.90 a day – by 2030. To realise that goal, the government will have to provide much-needed electricity to some 60 million Bangladeshis.
At the session in Davos, Ms Hasina clashed with US environmentalist Al Gore, who said that a new coal-fired power station was incompatible with Bangladesh’s environmental commitments.
The Bangladeshi PM hit back, saying it was her responsibility to develop the country, create jobs and eliminate the threat of famine. She also pointed out that the plant will be fitted with the same emissions reduction technology used by advanced economies like Germany, Japan and the US.
Ms Hasina’s comments echo remarks by Nigerian Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun who last year told a joint meeting of the IMF and World Bank:
“We in Nigeria have coal but we have power problems, yet we’ve been blocked because it is not green. There is some hypocrisy because we have an entire western industrialisation built on coal energy.”
It’s no surprise that leaders in developing countries are pushing back against Western attempts to restrict investment in the cheapest and most reliable forms of energy. The international community has set a goal of achieving universal electricity access by 2030, yet official figures show that even by 2040 over half a billion people will still be going without. With young and fast-growing populations to support, these leaders are absolutely determined to bring life-changing electricity to their people.
For a more secure world, it’s vital that we support them.