Part 1: Electricity and Oil
Afghanistan is the country where average electricity consumption per capita was about the lowest in the world in 2001; it is even lower now ten years on, in 2012.
Average oil consumption per capita was about the lowest in the world in 2001; it is lower yet in 2012.
Population = 25,838,797
Electricity Consumption = 20
Always-on power use equivalent = 2.3 watts/capita average
%(US) = 0.16%
Oil consumption = 2.19 M bbl/year.
Oil consumption = 0.08 bbl/yr/capita
%(US) = 0.3%
Population = 29,835,392
Electricity Consumption =231.1 million kWh / 29,835,392 = 7.75
Always-on power use equivalent = 0.9 watts/capita average = 40% of 2001
%(US) = 0.06% or less than one tenth of one percent.
Oil consumption = = 4,800 * 365 = 1.75 M bbl/year.
Oil consumption = 0.06 bbl/yr/capita = 75% of 2001
%(US) = 0.2%
Energy conservation has been taken to a whole new level in Afghanistan, with greater than 50% reduction in just 10 years, a testimony to American diplomacy.
Afghanistan has the second highest rate of infant mortality and second lowest life expectancy of any country, above only Angola.
Part 2: Solar Energy
Imagine what might have happened if the USA had invested a mere $1B in delivering solar panels to Afghanistan. Putting that amount in perspective, the cost of war in Afghanistan has been about $500 billion as of January 2012 and the war costs $300 million a day according to the Pentagon.
Let's use $3/watt as the price of solar. (Panels alone are now selling well below $1.50/watt and some complete large utility-scale systems are at or near that $3/watt price.)
$1B ÷ $3/watt = 333 megawatt, ÷ 29,835,392 people = 11 watts/capita. Multiply this by 5 hrs equivalent production per 24 hour day (21%) and the result is 11 watts*21%= 2.3 watts/capita, the same as was available in 2001.
Conclusion: A timely investment of $1 Billion in solar panels in Afghanistan in 2001 would have doubled electricity production per capita in Afghanistan. The same investment today would increase electricity production by 250%.
Would Afghanistan have the third lowest literacy rate in the world if electricity were available to its people?