Eli5: Why is it so difficult for third-world countries to provide stable electricity to their citizens despite the technology being so abundant?

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The technology is readily available, people will pay to have access to it. Yet, a lot of people still don’t have this technology made available to them.

In: Economics

30 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Besides of your assumption people in third world countries might not afford to pay enough to maintain stable elecricity grid. Many of these countries also ofthen have corrupt and ineffective governments making it more difficult to build a grid properly.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because while technology is available it’s very expensive and you’d need a lot of money to build and maintain it. Add to that lack of skilled labor and that they’d have to import most of the equipment. Most of the third-world countries are poor, both government and people and they struggle with food and water let alone electricity.

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s a really expensive amount of infrastructure. First you need the power plant. This is expensive. Then you need the fuel source for it. This involves having reliable transport which has it’s own expensive infrastructure. Then you need the high tension distribution infrastructure. This is way more expensive than the powerplant because it has to go all over the area. Then you need to have transformer stations that knock the high tension down to medium voltage for distribution. Then you need the amazing amount of poles, wires and transformers to get the power to the local houses and buildings. Finally you need the wiring inside the building. All this has to work almost perfectly or you have power outages. Add in people trying to steal power and destroying the wiring. Finally, a lot of poorest places uses diesel to power the generators and that is a *really* expensive way to do that.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Power planets are very expensive to build and a lot of take a long time to buil. Hydroelectric that do not need any fuel require enormous dams that take are expensive and take a long time to build. Cheapr and faster to build power plans like gas turbines need a constant supply of fuel.

Third world countries have in general quite fast population growth and urbanisation with more and more electrical power requirement. This make it quite hard to build up the electrical grid and power production fast enough.

Pople are willing to pay but the question is how much. Just the money you pay for the electricity is not enough you need money to build the infrastructure upfront. The time to pay it off typically years or decades and that money need to come from somewhere. Third world countries are not the best and paying back loans, there is a lot of corruption etc so investing in power plans are quite risky

Look at Ethiopia where the GDP was $192 billion 2024, they are building a large hydroelectric power plant at [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Ethiopian_Renaissance_Dam#Two_dams](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Ethiopian_Renaissance_Dam#Two_dams) the cost in 2016 was $5 billion or 7% of the GDP.

If you compare it to the US that has a $23 trillion it is a infrastructure investment equal to $1.6 trillion for the US. The US federal budget is $6.1 trillion of which $3.8 trillion is mandatory spending, $1.7 is discretionary spending and $0.7 trillion is net interest.

The discretionary spending what is netoated each year, defense is the larges power of $0.8 trillion. This mean the cost of the dame for Ethiopia is relative to the economy twithce what US spend on defence in a year.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The problem is never the technology

Its the money.

We already have the technology to replace all the fossil fuel plants in the world with renewables and for every household to have solar panels/solar water heaters/wind turbines/electric cars in cities etc yet look at where we still are with all thqt.

The problem isn’t with the technology, its always about the money.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Technology does not produce electricity, machines do. Knowing how to produce power is not enough to provide that power to millions of people. The issie is not technology but building million or billion dollar power plants and running them 24/7.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Cause their municipal budget is typically eleven USD/year, plus this cool three legged mule they found outside in the pond

Joking aside, power production as a concept is easy as there is nothing to figure out anymore but even in the USA people get mad about the cost sometimes. And they might be willing to pay 5-20x what someone in rural Brazil or Namibia might

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are A LOT of issues and most aren’t technical. Some of them deliberately sabotage infrastructures as to please other countries to force migrations. Mine has ads to migrate to Canada as soon as you step out of the airport. (other than internal corruptions and theft)

Anonymous 0 Comments

I read a study on telephone and Internet roll-out in china. China had to use fiber optic cable, because no matter how deep they buried copper wire, the labour needed to dig up that copper cost next to nothing as there was no better work people.

Anonymous 0 Comments

All right let’s go to a third world country and build a big ass coal power plant.

Where we going to get the coal from and who’s going to pay for it?

Let’s say that some type of geological event happens and somewhere in this third world country the magma gets close to the surface and creates an area looking like it was custom built for geothermal power. Let’s say that the USA along with Europe will pay for all of this stuff to be built and installed.

Unless USA and Europe continue to pay for the power plant how was the country in question going to be able to afford to maintain it.

Just because the technology exists doesn’t mean that a given area or society has the ability to acquire it install it and utilize it.