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Big energy loans for third world

The World Bank announced plans Sunday to lend $13 billion over the next five years for energy programs in 92 developing countries. In a report entitled "Energy in the Developing Countries," it said many of these nations rely on rapidly diminishing sources such as firewood and charcoal for more than half their needs, and thus face a second energy crisis.

"The demand for fuelwood, the most important source of traditional energy for residential uses, has grown faster than supply. . . . As supplies are exhausted , animal and crop residues are burned, depriving the soils of valuable nutrients and organic conditioning material."

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The loans -- 17 percent of the bank's total lending commitments -- include $4 billion for oil and gas, plus money for forestation and developing other renewable resources, coal, nuclear, and natural gas.

In 1980, World Bank president Robert S. McNamara notes, developing countries will spend $50 billion on importing oil, and possibly $110 billion by 1990. But he says that "by maximizing energy production between now and the end of the decade and by a vigorous program of energy conservation," oil imports in 1990 can be cut by up to $30 billion.

He says the bank's resources are insufficient to meet all essential investment needs for these developing countries, and it will explore the possibility of establishing a bank energy affiliate.

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