Burma

Light at the end of the tunnel

Katja Dombrowski, 10 Mar 14
A new energy system is to boost Burma’s economic upswing. The Southeast Asian country hopes that renewables will supply the power it needs.

Burma doesn’t need to switch to renewables because it has the chanceto get everything right from the start. Only 26 percent of the country’s population has electricity – or to put it another way, 45,000 villages are still waiting for power. Electrification is urgently needed, and the topic is firmly on the political agenda. Burma now has a unique opportunity to bypass old technologies and set up decentralised and sustainable infrastructure.

Burma, which is also known as Myanmar, spent decades in the dark – literally, politically and economically. The military dictatorship in power since 1962 isolated the country for almost 50 years and ran the economy into the ground. In addition, wide-ranging sanctions imposed by the West in response to human rights abuses put a stop to almost all trade and foreign investment.

When industrialisation reached Asia, with Burma’s large neighbouring states of India and China enjoying a spectacular boom and developing countries turning into “tiger nations”, nothing happened in Burma.

This is an abridged version of the article – the full text is available in new energy issue 02/2014

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