The advancements in technology that are often taken for granted in some parts of the world could be very beneficial to the growth and progress in Haiti. With a few well-placed programs, the use of clean energy, drone technology and telecommunications could drastically improve conditions in the nation and impact the daily lives of millions of Haitians.
Here are a few basic facts demonstrating the cycle of inter-connected issues the nation is currently facing:
- Unfortunately, access to a power source is a major problem in Haiti.
- Approximately 95% of the population is still without power and uses charcoal to cook or as a heating source.
- Lack of power remains a primary reason of the continued deforestation in Haiti caused by charcoal production.
- Lack of power is a major cause for the slow economic progress. As a result, minimal investments are being made in the country.
- Deforestation leads to more poverty
- Poverty is related to the lack of investment in Education
- The lack of education results in no sustainable growth.
Clearly, two fundamental problems that plague Haiti: deforestation and lack of energy resource. These two problems are closely interrelated. Despite these serious issues, there are potential solutions. Technology and telecommunications companies could help save Haiti.
The same way wireless technology revolutionized telecommunication and brought modern communication to the poorest corners or the planet, in the next 10 years, clean energy and drone technology can help Haiti with its energy and deforestation problems. Haiti, due to its geographical location has an average of 259 days of sunshine or a total of 3115 hours of sunlight in a year (source: http://www.climaTemps.com) There is sufficient sun energy to power the whole island. Telecom companies should be investing in placing more solar panels to be readily available for the people to use.
In addition, increased investment in the telecommunications infrastructure would be widely successful due to the low costs. A great percentage of most Haitian’s income is used to purchase “cell phone minutes”. Telecom companies could revitalize the nation by installing single cell towers (which are able to serve entire villages versus the POTS lined that require every household to connect to a centralized switch). The investment would be even more useful if it is used to build or repair power plants.
Consider these benefits to increased technological investment in Haiti:
- Clean energy (particularly solar)
- Solar Panels are more efficient and less costly than other alternative forms of energy
- More efficient batteries may store unused solar power
- Does not rely on the expensive power grid infrastructure
- Drone technology promises to speed up re-forestation efforts
- Industrial grade re-forestation
- Drones can access those remote places in the mountains that would be difficult to reach otherwise
- Drones may be used to survey the land
- Drones may plant 30.000 seedlings daily
- Drones would permit better monitoring for the progress of reforestation efforts
Currently, approximately 3% of Haiti is covered forest. To have a healthy environment, a goal of 60% covered forest would be ideal. The populated area, watershed and land for agriculture would account for the remaining 40% of the island. Haiti is 27, 750 square kilometers (6.86 million acres). To reach the goal of 60% covered forest, with approximately 60 trees per acre; 250 million trees are needed to reforest Haiti. With optimistic government support, 50 million trees are planted annually. Unfortunately, 30- 40 million trees are cut down annually. Reforestation will require a minimum of 50 million trees planted annually.
The vast amount of trees needed requires use of innovative technology and highlights how drone technology has the potential to speed up the time required to reach the reforestation goals:
- Drones may plant in remote area with little access. With the lack of access, the new trees will not be eaten by animals or used in the early development stages to produce charcoal.
- Drones may deliver the 50 million trees needed per year. The process could be scaled and the use of multiple drones could double or triple the capacity, lessening the time needed to achieve the desired forest coverage.
Clémentine Lalande, Haiti head of investments for Yunus Social Business, has accurately summarized the issues in Haiti: “Deforestation and poverty are very closely linked in Haiti. It has been clearly identified in various studies as one of the main causes of poverty here, leading to degraded soil, decreasing agricultural yields, water scarcity, decreasing farming income and potentially malnutrition, in particular in rural areas.”
In conclusion, with the current advancements in technology, realistic solutions are possible for Haiti. Tech and telecom companies should invest more in Haiti’s clean energy programs by helping plant solar panels and by giving access to drone technology to help plant trees. The investment represents a win-win situation for the investors and the Haitian communities. By opening options in the developing nation, investors will benefit from a large return on investment. The impact on the Haitian economy would be immeasurable and vastly change the trajectory of the nation. Given all the reasons that companies should feel motivated to invest in Haiti, there has been hesitance in making the goals a reality. What possible solutions would help encourage technology and telecommunications companies to become more involved in revitalizing this amazing island nation? Please offer your suggestions in comments section below. We will share them in our future blogs.