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Articles by Charles Kenny

Charles Kenny is a Schwartz Fellow at New America, a contributing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, a senior economist at the World Bank, and author most recently of Getting Better: Why Global Development is Succeeding and How We Can Improve the World Even More.

Featured Article

Billions across the world still depend on wood or dung fires for cooking.Photo: Yogendra JoshiWe usually speak of “alternative energy sources” as positives. Across the developing world, however, these “alternatives” take the forms of dung and wood for cooking, candles and kerosene for lighting. Governments have done an absolutely dismal job of rolling out access to modern energy.

But there is, as is so often the case, some good news buried here: Cleantech off-grid solutions are now competitive. Just as many in developing countries skipped landlines and went right to mobile phones, we may soon see the billions who now rely on traditional fuels skip coal and oil and transition directly into sustainable energy sources — which will be an enormous help to the global environment.

The International Energy Agency suggests that 1.4 billion people worldwide still lack access to electricity in their homes. These people are overwhelmingly in poor countries, and most live in rural areas. That means, for example, that only one in seven of the rural population of sub-Saharan Africa has electrical access. Even many of those with access to... Read more