Energy in Developing Nations

Idris Ahmed
December 9, 2015

Submitted as coursework for PH240, Stanford University, Fall 2015


Moving forward into the future the success of globalization will require that poor nations move forward in energy consumption to reach a quality of life that is enjoyed in rich countries. Energy is essential for access to food, education, commerce, and healthcare.

One of concern over environmental pollution is that growing nations like China and India will cause environmental harm in order grow economically. To combat the effects that developing nations will have on energy pollution. "Developed countries have committed to provide $100 billion yearly to assist the developing countries in mitigation and adaptation through the Green Climate Fund". [1]

But it is not just nations that are growing that have energy problems. Poor nations such as Venezuela and Nigeria have access to large oil reserves. Nigeria has access to 2.2% of the total world oil reserve and Venezuela 17.5% of the world total oil reserve. [2]

These nations must make economic decisions such as how much oil they should dig up while at the same time answering there own energy demands. But being oil rich does not make a country rich. Venezuela is facing a major economic crisis that continues to worsen.

The country is hugely dependent on oil exports, and prices are now less than half of what they were last summer. [3] An important economic principle at hand is diversification, being reliant upon the energy industry alone is a risky investment that does not promise a nation will prosper and might even doom it in the long term.

Everyday Usage

Energy inequality around the globe is an economic problem that is causing preventable deaths. According to the World Health Organization "In developing countries 1.5 billion people don't have access to electricity." [4] Lack of energy access can have dire consequences.

In many undeveloped countries the main source of fuel burnt to cook food is solid fuels such as wood. "1.94 million people in developing countries die because of burning solid fuels such as wood indoors." [4] What is the answer to solving the energy crisis that is causing such deaths? Are developing nations reliant upon developed nations for assistance in moving forward so that people won't have to die for simple reasons like burning fuel for food?

The answer in solving this 21st century problem may lie in advanced technologies such as solar, wind, nuclear, and even conventional oil.


It is simply not enough to exploit energy reserves nations must invest in infrastructure and institutions that increases access to energy for everyday use. For example if the U.S. wanted to increase clean energy in Kenya it would not be enough to install solar panels in the homes of Kenyans. The U.S. would also need to make sure that the institutions in Kenya were capable of using the technology.

"There is a strong need for institutional support for accessing information on technologies and enhancing local capacity to handle technologies at the diffusion stage of technology development." [1] This might mean that schools need to be created that deal with the everyday usage of solar energy.

But developing nations must also take responsibility for their institutions. Something as simple as a corrupt politician can make it difficult for these nations to integrate advanced energy effectively. But one thing is clear that energy problems in developing nations are not local problems but instead global problems that must be addressed by global solutions.

© Idris Ahmed. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] M. Suzuki, "Addressing Key Issues In Technology Innovation And Transfer Of Clean Energy Technologies: A Focus On Enhancing The Enabling Environment In The Developing Countries," Environ. Econ. Pol. Stud. 16, 157 (2014).

[2] "BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2015," British Petroleum, June 2015.

[3] J. Otis, "Rich In Oil, Venezuela Is Now Poor In Most Everything Else," National Public Radio, 7 Feb 15.

[4] G. Legros et al., "The Energy Access Situation in Developing Countries," World Health Organization, November 2009.