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Electricity Availability and Economic Activity: Lessons from Developing Countries

September 22, 2020




Presentations: Main | Discussant

  • Electricity is critical to modern economic activity and is an essential input to many public services. Yet, more than 800 million people lack even basic access to electricity services, and in many parts of the world, the power supply is limited and highly unreliable. Understanding the development benefits of improved electricity availability and the key bottlenecks preventing improved electricity take-up are key questions for the community of academics and policymakers working on achieving the goal of universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services.      

    In this Policy Research Talk, World Bank economist Jevgenijs Steinbuks will present key insights from recent studies of electricity access and reliability in developing countries. He will first discuss the key methodological challenges in assessing the economic costs and benefits of improved electricity availability. He will then survey the recent advances and key findings from the emerging literature on the development economics of electricity access and reliability. He will conclude by discussing the policy insights and other lessons learned from his own recent empirical work on the power sector in Brazil, Nepal, Ukraine, and a number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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    Jevgenijs Steinbuks (Speaker)


    Jevgenijs Steinbuks is an Economist in the Sustainability and Infrastructure Team of the Development Research Group. His areas of expertise are in energy and environmental economics, industrial organization, and real estate and urban economics with a particular focus on households’ and firms’ investment problems. His current research focuses on sustainable resource and land use, electric power, and energy demand and efficiency. Dr. Steinbuks has extensive experience with academia, public sector and international institutions.


    Vivien Foster (Discussant)

    Chief Economist, Infrastructure

    Vivien Foster is the Chief Economist for the Infrastructure Vice-Presidency of the World Bank, which covers the areas of Digital Development, Energy & Extractives, Transport and Infrastructure Finance. During her 20 years at the World Bank she has played a variety of leadership roles, including: Global Lead for Energy Economics, Markets and Institutions (2016-18); Practice Manager of the Global Energy Anchor (2012-16); and Lead Economist for Infrastructure in the Africa Region (2006-11). Throughout, her focus has been on the intersection between network infrastructures and economic policy. She has contributed to client dialogue, as well as advisory and lending engagements, in more than 30 countries across Africa, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.


    Deon Filmer (Chair)

    Director of Research

    Deon Filmer is Director of the Research Group at the World Bank. He has previously served as Acting Research Manager in the Research Group, Co-Director of the World Development Report 2018: Learning to Realize Education’s Promise, and Lead Economist in the Human Development department of the Africa Region of the World Bank. He works on issues of human capital and skills, service delivery, and the impact of policies and programs to improve human development outcomes—with research spanning the areas of education, health, social protection, and poverty and inequality. He has published widely in refereed journals, including studies of the impact of demand-side programs on schooling and learning; the roles of poverty, gender, orphanhood, and disability in explaining education inequalities; and the determinants of effective service delivery.

  • The monthly Policy Research Talks showcase the latest findings of the World Bank’s research department, challenge and contribute to the institution’s intellectual climate, and re-examine conventional wisdom in current development theories and practice. These talks facilitate a dialogue between researchers and operational staff and inform World Bank operations both globally and within partner countries. Read More »