They Saw Brazil’s Future and It’s Not Always Pretty

    Itaipu

    ItaipuThe Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology released a study that outlines how the country and the planet will (probably) evolve in the next 20 years. Produced by the Centro de Gestão e Estudos Estratégicos, the document offers a time line based on several sources.

     

    It is meant to help government plan its future strategies. Part of its content is easily predictable, considering recent tendencies. But there are some surprises.

    Among its main forecasts:

    Economy

    In four years, Brazil will go back to its tradition of successive commercial balance deficits

    Brazilian Gross Domestic Product will be 925 billion dollars in 2015 (which means, less than our present GDP, around 1.6 trillion dollars. It is not very clear how Goldman Sachs, the original source of this information, came up with this number).

    Brazil, the brand, will increase its value. The demand for products associated to the country’s cultural diversity will grow.

    Science and Technology

    The rhythm of innovation will speed up and new technologies will migrate quicker from the lab to the market. Biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology will be increasingly integrated. The nanotechnology market should reach 2.6 trillion dollars in two years.

    By 2012, cell phone batteries will be recharged once every two months.
    In only three years, hybrid cars will represent 30% of the global automotive market.
    Electric cars will become more and more competitive.

    Society

    In 20 years, the number of senior Brazilians will be 4 million superior to the number of children and teenagers. This difference will reach 35.8 million by 2050. By then, there will be 75 inactive individuals for each 100 workers in the labor force.

    By 2027, Brazil will have more women than men studying in universities.

    More people will be living in small and middle-sized towns. Migration to the metropolis will slow down (a tendency that has been going on for a few years now).

    Immigration from other South American countries and from Africa might increase.

    Brazil should comply with the UN Millenium Goals by 2015 (halve the number of people with an income of less than 1 dollar a day, halve the number of hungry individuals, among others).

    Environment and Energy

    Brazil will lose R$ 7.4 billion in 2020 due to the impact of global change over the production of grains.

    By 2028, 45% of the energy produced in the country will be renewable.

    Many more hydro power dams will be built in the Amazon till 2030 (this might be a big environmental issue, once the region is mostly flat, which means those dams will probably flood huge areas).

    By 2021, the volume of rain during the dry season should diminish in the tropical areas of the country.

    Food

    According to the World Bank, quoted by the study, global food demand  might grow 50% in the next 20 years, due to population growth and the adoption of a Western diet by the growing middle classes of the world. There will be enough food to feed everybody, but its distribution will continue to be extremely unequal.

    Scarcity of water to supply the agricultural demand will reach critical levels and many areas that are fertile today are likely to lose their production capacity.

    Brazil should remain an important food producer thanks to its dimensions and the availability of fertile land and water.

    I was surprised that the country is close to comply with all the Millenium Goals.  As far as I know, the federal government considered a few of these goals unattainable within the schedule proposed by the UN.

    And Goldman Sachs’s forecast for the evolution (involution?) of Brazilian GDP seems really strange. I wonder if there is no transcription mistake. Maybe somebody forgot to add the number 1 before 925…

    What’s your forecast? What will Brazil look like in 20 years?

    Infrastructure Investment

    A study released by the BNDES, the main federal bank responsible for financing infrastructure projects, reveals that Brazil will increase its investments in power dams, highways, railways, ports, telecommunications and sanitation.

    According to daily paper Folha de S. Paulo, around R$ 274 billion (151 billion dollars or 111 billion euros) should be invested between 2010 and 2013, 37.3% more than the volume spent between 2005 and 2008. BNDES didn’t publicize the investments made last year, during the global financial crisis.

    These resources will finance such projects as the bullet train that should connect Rio and São Paulo at a cost of R$ 34.6 billion (19.1 billion dollars or 14 billion euros) in the next ten  years.

    It should also finance the hydro power dams of Santo Antonio and Jirau (6.4 gigawatts combined capacity), that are already under construction in Rondônia state, in the Amazon region, close to Bolívia, and the controversial Belo Monte power dam, in the state of Pará, also in the Amazon.

    With an estimated capacity of 11.3 gigawatts, Belo Monte is meant to be the second biggest hydro power plant in the country, after Itaipu, in the Southern state of Paraná. This project has been dragging for over 30 years due to the many environmental and social issues it raises, and the fierce opposition of environmentalists, indigenous leaders and singer/composer Sting.

    Its costs are estimated in R$ 16 billion (8.8 billion dollars or 6.5 billion euros) – but here, again there is controversy. Many Brazilian entrepreneurs have already indicated that this forecast is too conservative at it will probably cost twice as much.

    Brazilian born, French citizen, married to an American, Regina Scharf is the ultimate globetrotter. She graduated in Biology and Journalism from USP (Universidade de São Paulo) and has worked for Folha de S. Paulo, Gazeta Mercantil and Veja magazine as well as Radio France Internationale. Since 2004 she has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the US. She authored or co-authored several books in Portuguese on environmental issues and was honored by the 2002 Reuters-IUCN Press award for Latin America and by the 2004 Prêmio Ethos. You can read more by her at Deep Brazil – www.deepbrazil.com.

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