Business, Economics and Jobs

Lights out in Myanmar


A monk in Myanmar (formerly Burma) tries to repair a generator.

Amid brightening prospects for Myanmar (formerly Burma) comes a reminder of its dysfunction.

Progress requires power -- as in electricity -- and Myanmar has far too little. In its largest city, Yangon, a worsening electricty shortage is leaving factories, businesses and homes in the dark for 12 hours a day, the Myanmar Times reports.

What's behind the shortage? It's currently hot and dry season in Southeast Asia and there's not enough water to power nearby hydro-electric dams.

Myanmar's fate will be guided by energy. Were it not for an energy thirst in neighboring China and Thailand -- which can be quenched by dams in Myanmar -- and Myanmar's stores of untapped natural gas, there would be far less international excitement over its ongoing perestroika.

And yet for the Burmese people, electricity is still a "luxury," as one village recently explained to Reuters. A scarcity of power, the business-minded wire service contends in this report, will almost certainly limit Myanmar's boom.

Only 25 percent of the country, according to Reuters, is connected to the national power grid. Even as Myanmar's people start to enjoy more power over their personal and professional lives, noisy generators and old car batteries will likely remain the source of power inside their homes for some time to come.