The Sapient Ape

Life as an employed MBA grad during an economic recovery. DISCLAIMER: Everything written here is fiction.

The Road Taken

So I just read an article about how Professor Yunus just met with Hillary Clinton to discuss healthcare.

Huh?  When did Bangladesh ever make the news for non-cyclones, and what’s even more surprising… Bangladesh and “Green” and healthcare?  You would think that those would never be matched up in any article.  So I haven’t read the article yet, just a sec…

Eh, its just some boring shit about Grameen Bank’s new healthcare initiative and how Bangladeshis are going to be flooded out of a country in a hundred years, but who’s planning to live that long, anyway?

I guess about 250 million people will be.  So, either create the right conditions now, or be met by a quarter billion refugees somewhere around 2110.  And there is the crossroad in which Bangladesh, and to a lesser extent, the world, is at.

A "Dalal"

A "Dalal"

Do we start taking the correct measures — environmentally, politically, socially — starting right now, or do we see the eventual destruction of the country (or the world)?   A country that by sheer force of its population combined with said population’s penchant for dalali, is classified as belonging to the “Next Eleven” economies (although we come in on the bottom, granted).  Economies which have the potential to be the next largest in terms of GDP after the BRIC economies in the coming decades.

There is definitely a large economy here.  A potentially huge economy.  An economy which has only been lightly thumped by the global recession.  An economy, which is in many ways, more “free market” than most Western economies, due to the huge amount of business that is done without paperwork or under the table.  Anything goes, as long as it sells.

And that corruption is one of the quickest roads that could lead us to eventual destruction.  But I don’t think it will (it’ll be another road like rising sea-levels).  Today, a new form of corruption has risen:  “Take a cut, a big one… but try to do something good for the country as well.”  [sarcasm]It warms the heart.[/sarcasm]  These days, unlike during the last decade, it seems that initiatives are being taken which have the country’s long-term benefits in mind.

  • Incentivize industries such as agriculture and power, which will continue to be the engines that drive the economy.
  • Attempt to stomp rampant industrial environmental damage.
  • Plan for the growth of the city and country in 20 years.
  • Diversify the economy away from garments to other export-oriented industries (such as ship-building — who would have thought that Bangladesh would ever have built a ship for a European client?).

I find myself quite pleasantly surprised.  Someone up there holding the strings actually knows his policy shit.  Even if only 20% of what they’re planning comes true, its still quite impressive.  The plans all seem like something I would have heard coming out of the Obama administration if they were as cool as they used to be (or if they didn’t have to wade out of a recession in an international shit-storm).  Someone here who’s in charge has the long-term view in mind.  Coz they realize that without that long-term viewpoint we’re gonna be real f##ked real soon.  And we probably will be but at least we’re trying.

But this post isn’t supposed to be a rant on how great Bangladesh is, its supposed to be a rant about how great I am (DUUHHH)!  I managed to move here at the right time for doing what I want to do — starting a socially-responsible business in renewable energy.  I’ve been talkin’ about that ever since business school (just ask Rainer).  Now its up to me to take what’s mine.  The rightful key to the throne of the world.

As to how that’s going (the renewable energy thing, not the world domination thing), lets just say I’m meeting the right people, and happy with my momentum so far.  But I’ve always been a doer rather than a talker (really?), so lets leave it at that for now.

So here’s to Bangladesh… once “international basket case“, today, international manufacturer of baskets (I’m sure we do, in some tin shack, somewhere).

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Filed under: Energy, Politics, Uncategorized, , ,

Lack of Energy Fuels Economic Cesspool.

Energy, energy, gas, gas, electricity, electricity, buzz buzz buzz…

It rules my daily life here, or it would, if I weren’t sitting in my sister’s cushy apartment feeding off the diesel generator that goes on every time the power goes out (luckily for me, the only thing I have to give up is Air Conditioning.  Sweet!  Doin’ my part for global warming!).

And it goes out a lot.  Like for hours a day every day like clockwork.  During peak hours.  The truth of the matter is that Bangladesh can’t produce enough electricity to keep up with demand.  It’s like a vicious cycle.  I remember when I was a kid, lets say 25 years ago, the power used to go out just as often — and no generators.  Favorite cartoons would get cut off, never to be seen again.

Oh Liono, how ever did you defeat Mummra that one time?  Did Snarf help?

But in the 1990s, power generation crept up, as more power stations were built, and the outages got a bit more bearable.

Today we’re back at unbearable.

The diesel generator that powers my internet during power outtages. Scoooore!

The diesel generator that powers my internet during power outtages. Scoooore!

Except every apartment building has diesel generators, which whir into action every time the power goes out, and spew diesel fumes into the air, to add to the city’s pollution problem.   But I hear diesel burns clean, so lets hope for the best.  Is it the right kinda diesel to burn clean?  Turns out, it isn’t.  Chalk one up for lung cancer.  Dhaka got out of one air pollution problem in the early 2000s to be on the brink of falling into another.

Not to mention the actual outages… I heard an estimate that power outages cost Bangladesh in 2% annual GDP.  Think about that — that’s just an exhorbitant amount of waste in a country where 45% of the population lives beneath the poverty level.  If energy shortages cost 2% imagine how much is lost to corruption…4%?  5%?  Were it not fucked up, Bangladesh’s economic growth rate would rival China’s.

Not to mention the increased petroleum imports into the country due to the additional need for diesel fuel — a country, that theoretically at least should be able to at least provide its own power generation needs through its ample natural gas reserves.

But even as new power plants are being built, often by incompetent idiots who have no previous experience in the energy sector, to the tune of long delays and wasted cash — EVEN as these plants are being built, we’re going through a natural gas shortage.  In other words, there’s nothing to power the plants.  A natural gas shortage that supposedly is “due to rising demand and the failure of past governments to find new sources, energy officials said on Sunday.”  It can’t be helping that natural gas prices, along with oil prices, have plummeted recently.

My bro-in-lawrs 2000 cc barrel burner.  Yowza!

My bro-in-lawrs 2.0 L bbl burner. Yowza!

Why should the oil companies break their backs looking for the shit now, when they can just wait it out until a higher price increases their profit margin.  Oil companies are probably the ONLY sector of the modern post-Bush global economy that haven’t been affected that much by our current recession.  They have been hedging their bets for a while, makin’ bank.  So they’re content to sit around and wait for the price to go up, and let us here in Dhaka sweat it out or use up the diesel that they’re selling us anyway.

Summer’s around the corner and its getting hotter every day.  The generator just went on.  Time to go for a ride in my 2000 cc AC car and burn some more gas.

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