Date Thesis Awarded

4-2014

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

Government

Advisor

Philip Roessler

Committee Member

Paul Manna

Committee Member

Mary Fabrizio

Abstract

Liberia has the lowest level of electrification in the world. Due to the severe under-provision of public electricity, private suppliers have started to fill the gap. One such provider is the Liberian Energy Network (LEN), which imports and distributes solar lights. This study examines the impact of LEN’s solar lights on the individual welfare and fishing productivity of Liberian fishermen. Employing a randomized controlled trial of 90 fishermen over seven weeks in Monrovia, Liberia, it finds that access to solar lights not only significantly increases participants’ security but also enables their children to study at night. The effect of the lights on fishing productivity was inconclusive (pending additional research), but the study does report important information about fishing equipment, methods, and productivity that will inform future fisheries research in Liberia. The final part of the study analyzes the barriers to access to solar lights in Liberia. It finds that one of the most significant barriers to access is the high import tariff on solar technology imposed by the government of Liberia. Given the experiment’s robust findings on the positive effects of solar technology on individual welfare in a country with little electricity, the study concludes that Liberia would benefit from reducing the import tariff and creating a more open energy sector.

Thesis Cover Page - Signed.pdf (409 kB)
Cover Sheet

Thesis Agreement Swem.pdf (168 kB)
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