AUGUST 2017

21.8 million Latin Americans and Caribbean still do not have access to energy in LAC and a high percentage of this displaced population is concentrated in one country: Haiti

Dear colleagues, taking up this monthly communication link, this time I am interested in discussing a topic of crucial importance for our region.
At OLADE we are preparing our energy statistics and analyzing the latest statistical data.

A very striking indicator is the evolution of the level of access to electricity in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. In the statistics with base year 2015, there were 22.6 million people without access to electricity in our region. This year we will publish new indicators, noting that the number of people without access to electricity reported, with data as of 2016, presents a decrease to 21.8 million people. This means that in 2016, 800,000 Latin Americans and Caribbean people gained access to electricity.

It is important to note that 10 years ago the number of Latin Americans and Caribbean people without access to electricity was more than double, 44 million people.

These are truly impressive data that demonstrate the great efforts in this matter that many of the countries of the region make to improve the living conditions of our population. It is a clear indicator that the favorable economic cycles, that several of them have observed, have translated in the last decade into an improvement in some of the indicators that reflect human development.

However, the situation in Haiti remains worrying. While all the countries of the region experience a path of population reduction without access to electricity, Haiti has more than 7.6 million people still without coverage, meaning that 70% of the population is without access and this percentage instead of decreasing, increases every year.

This is a clear red flag, it is a long-declared emergency situation that requires immediate remedial action. It should be noted that the population without access can be supplied by electricity networks, and not necessarily from island solutions, destined for remote areas, since the population is concentrated, having no restrictions at the geographical level.

Today we know that there are technological alternatives that would allow the production of electricity at low costs, an important part of the generation would be implemented from renewable sources, which would reduce the risks of economic sustainability of any electrification initiative.
It is also clear the direct and multiplying effect for social and economic development, which would have any effort destined to the electrification of the country, would allow to start the urgent process of necessary reconstruction, would improve sanitary conditions and also health services. It has a direct effect on education and allows productive and commercial activities to begin, so that the domestic economy can take the path of recovery that is strictly necessary, this speaking under a voluntarist position, with a vision oriented merely on the technical solution of the problem, neglecting, in this first approach, the complexity of the economic, financial, social and institutional aspects that are behind any investment project required in Haiti.

The investments necessary to achieve the electrification of the country, according to the calculations we have made, would require an estimated investment of 10 billion dollars, with which the access deficit of 7 million people would be greatly reduced, and that, as a consequence, would radically improve the living conditions of a historically displaced population, thus generating channels to economically reinsert Haiti in the regional context.

For this reason, with these data on the table, I no longer need to make a closing reflection on a topic that concerns all Latin Americans and Caribbean people.

Greetings from Quito, Ecuador.
Alfonso Blanco
OLADE’s Executive Secretary

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