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January 2010

In Vanuatu, Let There Be Light

David Stein's picture

David Stein is the founder of Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association (VANREPA), whose Solar-Powered Desalinator Would Serve as Model for Small Coastal Communities for the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu was a finalist in DM2009.  In this post, David talks about a crippling human, economic, and environmental problem shared by 260 million mostly rural people in poor countries globally.

Most of the people of Vanuatu spend half their day in darkness.  For them, there is no electric grid.  Instead they must rely on kerosene and other polluting and sometimes dangerous power sources.  But safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and accessible power sources are coming on the market in Vanuatu and other, mostly rural countries in the Pacific islands and elsewhere. 

The devices are are battery-charged, easy to maintain, and simple to install, and they outperform other rural options like "two-light" solar home systems.  Costing from US$20-$100, depending on the product type, they are cheapter than solar home systems, which are priced from US$800-$1,000, and far more affordable than kerosene, which can cost a rural family US$30 a month.

The devices are described as"picosolar" ("pico" meaning very small).  They usually consist of a solar panel and a combination light emitting diode (LED) and built-in battery.

Thanks to a partnership between VANWODS (Vanuatu’s premier micro-finance institution), VANREPA (Vanuatu Renewable Energy and Power Association), and Green Power (VANREPA’s “trading arm”), thousands of rural Vanuatu households are enjoying solar-powered electric lighting this holiday season.

My top three and Bono's top ten

Shanta Devarajan's picture

For the World Bank's internal website, I was asked to list the three most important developments of the past decade.  To elicit a broader discussion, I am sharing it on this blog.  In a subsequent post, I will list the three most important challenges and opportunities for the coming decade.  One or two of my items are also reflected in Bono's excellent piece in yesterday's New York Times, "Ten for the Next Ten."  Here are my top three:

Half Mast or Half Full?: The News Media in the New Decade

Antonio Lambino's picture

The Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School recently hosted an event entitled "How to Make Money in News: New Business Models for the 21st Century".  This reminded me of a Washington Post editorial by Michael Gerson contrastingly titled “Journalism’s slow, sad death”.  I came across the editorial a while back and decided to hold on to my copy, intending to reflect on some of Gerson’s points.  Chancing upon the Shorenstein Center event provided me with just the opportunity.

As I reread Gerson’s piece, the following point jumped out at me: “… the whole (news and information) system is based on a kind of intellectual theft.  Internet aggregators (who link to the news they don’t produce) and bloggers would have little time to collect or comment upon without the costly enterprise of newsgathering and investigative reporting.  The old-media dinosaurs remain the basis for the entire media food chain.  But newspapers are expected to provide their content free on the Internet.”


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