Kenya Power Turns to IBM Analytics to Restructure its Network & Double its Megawatts



The-power-of-content-marketing-for-law-firm-business-developmentIn a move to expand its current 2.6 million-client base by another one million clients and to push its current electricity generation capacity from 2025 megawatts to 5000 plus megawatts by 2015, Kenya Power has selected IBM data systems to help it optimize its processes, up its network and finally roll out electricity distribution services countrywide.

The deal will see IBM provide Kenya Power with server, data storage and analysis, software as well as IBM services and training.

According to Ben Chumo, Chief Executive Officer, Kenya Power,”The analytics solution gives us the ability to rapidly perform complex queries on data. For example, we can better understand the varying needs of our customers across different regions in Kenya based on customer buying behavior or manage the power grids more efficiently in specific areas during certain times of the day.”

IBM analytics is expected to enable Kenya Power to study and compare real time and historical data to better monitor business operations and trends, and anticipate future electrical needs. KP teams can now access data on demand on one dashboard compared to 10 different dashboards.

The real-time analytics can be accessed through cloud computing, allowing executives working remotely to use mobile devices to view data pooled from all corners of the company. This will provide unparalleled insight into the electricity company’s operations, and allow instant decision making to help improve business performance.

The IBM solution provides a central repository for various data sources and the analytic capabilities reconcile, correct, and quality-assess the information to provide a consolidated view of Kenya Power’s customers.
Based on this view, the company will be able to improve the call center experience, better identify customer needs and match new services to meet these needs.

“Efficient energy distribution is a key component to the continued growth of this economy. Technology has the unique ability to help companies like Kenya Power leverage big data to gain deeper insights of their customers and power grids,” said Nik Nesbitt, General Manager, IBM East Africa. “IBM is continuously extending its capabilities to enable
businesses in this region and across Africa, with tools to intelligently instrument and innovate their processes in order to help them work smarter.”

The new signing is the latest in a series of System z announcements from IBM in Africa. In May 2014, IBM unveiled two new Mainframe Linux and Cloud labs in Kenya and South Africa. In February, the Government of Ghana announced that they were working with Yale University and IBM Research – Africa to help eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV in Ghana using a Mainframe based solution. In South Africa, IBM is working with FNB to help the bank deploy mobile “bank-in-a-box” solutions that deliver financial services over any channel in near-real time.

Ericsson Recognized as a World Leader for Corporate Action on Climate Change


(FILES) A picture taken on October 16, 2Ericsson has been recognized as a world leader for corporate action on climate change by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a non-governmental organization which provides the only global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information.

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) recognises firms that are measuring, managing and disclosing environmental impact information to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the business risks of climate change.

In a statement, Paul Simpson, chief executive officer of CDP said, “Global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and we face steep financial risk if we do not mitigate them.  The business case for action to mitigate climate change has never been stronger or more urgent.  For this reason we congratulate Ericsson that has achieved a position on The A List: The CDP Climate Performance Leadership Index.  Ericsson is responding to market demand for environmental accountability and at the same time is making progress towards the realization of sustainable economies.”

CDP works with 767 institutional investors with assets of US$92 trillion, to motivate companies to disclose their impacts on the environment and take action to reduce them. CDP publishes an annual Climate Performance Leadership Index.

Elaine Weidman, Vice President, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility at Ericsson, says: “Ericsson’s inclusion on the CDP A List is further recognition of our long-term work on climate change and our commitment to the life cycle approach that determines the environmental impact of our business and enables us to find innovative ways to minimize and offset it.”

M-KOPA Solar named a Top100 Global clean technology company


mkopa-profileKenya’s ‘pay-as-you-go’ solar firm M-KOPA Solar has been recognized as a top 100 global clean technology company in the 2014 Global Cleantech 100 awards – which are presented to the most innovative and promising ideas by companies to solve tomorrow’s clean technology challenges.

M-KOPA recently announced it had powered up 100,000 homes in East Africa with clean, affordable solar home systems – which are paid for using mobile money.

According to the firm, it’s solar households will generate over 12.5 million hours of kerosene-free lighting and will make combined projected savings of US$75 million – based on $750 savings made by a single household, compared to Kerosene usage over a four year period.

In a statement, Jesse Moore, Co-Founder and Managing Director, M-KOPA Solar said, “M-KOPA Solar is designed around a game-changing technology – mobile money.  We saw that being able to move a small amount of money around, at a low cost, could revolutionize energy access. We now offer world-class solar energy systems, collecting payments in small amounts and allowing customers to choose when and how much they pay.”

Global Cleantech 100 is a comprehensive list of for-profit private companies with the highest potential to make the most significant market impact. This list is collated by combining Cleantech Group research data, with weighted qualitative judgments of hundreds of nominations. There are specific inputs from a global 84-person Expert Panel, drawn from leading financial investors and representatives of multi-national corporations and industrials active in technology and innovation scouting across Asia, Europe, and North America.

“The Global Cleantech 100 represents the most inspiring array of entrepreneurs across the Cleantech space that are at the forefront of innovation,” says Sheeraz Haji, Cleantech Group’s CEO.

This year, a record number of nominations were received: 5,995 distinct companies from 60 countries participated. These companies were weighted and scored to create a short list of 327 companies. Short-listed nominees were reviewed by Cleantech Group’s Expert Panel, resulting in a finalized list of 100 companies from 17 countries.



UK’s Solarcentury Raises Funds from Actis Investment to build largest carport solar system in Africa


solarSolarcentury has raised an undisclosed round of funding from PE firm Actis Investment to design and construct Africa’s largest solar carport on the uppermost storey of a car park at Garden City Mall, part of the new 32-acre integrated residential, retail park, hotel and office development on Nairobi’s Thika Superhighway.

According to Dr Dan Davies, Director for Solarcentury in East Africa, “We are incredibly proud to be bringing our second dual-mode solar system to Kenya, this time to build East Africa’s largest rooftop system. The unique dual-mode technology system we have developed is perfect for urban areas where land is at a premium yet energy needs to be supplied near to demand. Installing the panels on the roof of a car park makes use of otherwise functionless roof space. The technology is also being used in East Africa’s largest ground mount system for Williamson Tea in Kenya, reducing the company’s energy bills by around a third. ”

The 858kWp system has been financed under NVI Energy’s Solar4Africa, a 12 year financed solution that enables Garden City to harness the power of renewable energy, overcoming many of the barriers that can frequently beset commercial solar projects.

As well as providing shade, the 3,300 solar panels on the carports will generate 1256 MWh per year, and cut carbon emissions by around 745 tonnes per year. The dual-mode technology is a highly innovative energy solution that provides solar energy in the daytime meaning less is used from the grid; and when the grid is down, the system also reduces the consumption of costly diesel back up. The system is able to operate in dual-mode to ensure a consistent energy supply whilst reducing diesel and grid consumption, for a more environmentally friendly energy solution as well as reducing tenants energy bills.

The installation of the solar panels will help Garden City achieve its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. The new development is set to be a showcase for environmental design, incorporating a range of energy saving solutions.

Actis Investment Principal Koome Gikunda said the turn-key solution could produce clean power and pay for itself with the energy it produces.



CEO WEEKENDS: Heirs Holdings to Generate Nigeria’s Power Consumption Needs in the Next Five Years


Tony Elumelu, a well-known global business leader and chairman of Heirs Holdings has announced the group’s ambition to generate at least a quarter of Nigeria’s power consumption needs within the next five years.

Heirs Holdings’ interests in the power sector include Transcorp Ughelli Power, a gas-fired, thermal power generating plant that was acquired under the privatisation of Nigeria’s power sector.

Elumelu will deliver the keynote address at this year’s West African Power Industry Convention (WAPIC) in Lagos from 18 to 19 November. The 11th edition of this long running, high-level energy conference and expo will once again assemble utilities, government, consultants and investors to discuss the challenges of capacity building, local markets and investment.

“The power industry is a catalytic sector and the development of our country and our continent cannot happen without fixing it,” stated the chairman of Heirs Holdings.

He further described the USA’s Power Africa Initiative as “an amazing opportunity to democratize access to power for Africans, and the $2.5 billion investment commitment we have made reflects exactly how excited I am about it. The present administration made a bold decision when it decided to affect the changes envisaged by the Power Sector Reform Act — legislation that had been on the books since 2005. And that bold step was reinforced during President Barack Obama’s last visit to Africa. We felt more strongly than ever, the need to help power Africa.”

“Our experience so far at Ughelli power plant is testimony to the size of the opportunity; our amazing team has taken that plant from 150MW capacity when we took over in November 2013, to 450MW today; we expect it to increase 700MW by October and to achieve 1000MW by the second quarter of 2015. At that rate, we’ll be contributing 20 per cent of Nigeria’s total power generation.” Furthermore, he says they are working on a greenfield project that will expand the capacity of Ughelli by an additional 1000MW in the next three to five years and they have signed an MOU with GE and Symbion Power to facilitate this,” he added.

CEO Weekends: Zimbabwe Partners With China For A $500 Million Power Units Project


power stations


Zimbabwe has collaborated with China and have launched a $533-million project in order to boost the electricity generation in the African country which is currently having serious problems in the industry.

Sino Hydro, a Chinese company will build two additional units at the Kariba Power Station, 365 kilometres (230 miles) north of the capital, expected to add 300 megawatts to the national grid on completion in 2017.

The Chinese government is providing $320 million towards the expansion deal while state-owned Zimbabwe Power Company will chip in $213 million coming from loans sourced from development institutions.

President Robert Mugabe said the expansion of the power station would lower the cost of electricity by reducing dependence on imports.

“Such a development would provide the nation with additional and cheaper electricity for both industry and commerce, and as a result, attract investment to Zimbabwe,” Mugabe said.

Energy minister Dzikamai Mavhaire said the extension would “mark an end to load-shedding.”

The country’s power stations have been experiencing major breakdowns which makes the constant power-shortage as well as squabbles rampant

The state power company resorts to load-shedding, switching off supplies to specific areas for up to eight hours, to save scarce power.

The country produces an average of 1,200 megawatts against a peak demand of 2,200 MW and relies on imports to supplement its production.

Kenya Power introduces new website to address plethoric blackouts

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Kenya’s power utility firm Kenya Power has developed a new website called ‘PowerAlert,’ it says will help reduce unexpected outages and blackouts as well as make it easier for Kenyans to establish places without electricity.

PowerAlert gives realtime power blackouts and status throughout the country. It is divided into eight zones from North Eastern to Coast.

According to Kenya Power, the website consolidates all scheduled outages or shutdowns in a single portal for clients to plan their daily activities effectively as well as help minimize inconveniences that may be caused.

PowerAlert also allows users to sign in through their Facebook, Twitter and Google accounts and by including one’s location, the user receives an SMS, Twitter or e-mail notification when an outage occurs within the area.

Kenya Power has recently embraced social media and technology in a bid to improve service delivery with several users receiving faster replies to complaints through Facebook or Twitter than the usual customer service telephone lines.

PowerAlert website shows whether the power problem within an area has been reported and what the company is doing regarding the issue. The comment section allows customers to check or report the status.

It is expected that as more Kenya Power systems are becoming automated, the company could attain efficient and faster response to complaints and billing.

Gemalto’s M2M solution hailed as best for SA’s sustainable energy initiatives


Gemalto, global leader in digital security, has announced that it will provide M2M connectivity for SOLARKIOSK, which is a compact, solar powered station, carried onboard a moving vehicle.

According to Gemalto, the cabin has photovoltaic panels throughout its roof to produce sustainable energy in areas that are far from conventional power cabling and infrastructures. The Cinterion® modules give rugged M2M connectivity powering a mobile router, provided by INSYS icom, which enables condition monitoring of the SOLARKIOSKs’ photovoltaic panels and tracks energy production and consumption through a web interface.

“The SOLARKIOSKs, which are easy and fast to distribute, support simple plug-in access for devices, appliances and wide range of systems. Every kiosk produces enough electricity to operate the cellular router and recharge 220 cell phones everyday – up to 80 at the same time,” stated Gemalto.

In a statement, Gemalto mentioned that the M2M solution provided by INSYS icom monitors and manages the solar panels on a 24/7 basis, tracking energy input and output, offering a reliable system for power delivery to end users, and automatically reporting potential problems.

“The SOLARKIOSKs generate sustainable electricity for various services, including refrigerated storage for medicines and for consumer products. By delivering these benefits to remote communities, the SOLARKIOSKs are anticipated to change the lives of millions of people who live in the rural areas of developing countries. By now, projects are operating in Kenya, Botswana and Ethiopia, supplying both power and access to information, especially for education and building a social hub for local communities,” Gemalto added.

According to Michael Gartz, the director sales and marketing for INSYS icom, one of the greatest challenges for M2M communication is to work properly in extreme surroundings such as the tremendous moisture of a South American rainforest or the intense heat of an African desert.

“INSYS icom and Gemalto heavy duty technologies are perfectly suited for those regions that are not connected to an electricity grid, such as rural and remote areas in developing districts and countries affected by disasters. An estimated 1.5 billion people worldwide live in such regions, with 600 million in Africa alone and SOLARKIOSK will be there to serve them.” Gartz further added.

Thomas Steffen, M2M regional manager at Gemalto also noted: “In most parts of the world, traditional power infrastructures are difficult to install and rapidly become costly to maintain. With SOLARKIOSK, we aim to play a social role in meeting such Machine-for-Human challenges, whatever the geographical constraints.”

M-KOPA Solar Lights Over 95,000 Homes | Partners Safaricom to Launch M-KOPA III


m-kopa-solar_article_fullWith over 95,000 households  served in East Africa, and adding 2000 homes weekly, M-KOPA Solar has saved households over KES 6 Billion  and has served 3Million mobile payment transactions since launch.

Today,  M-KOPA Solar has introduced a Safaricom-branded solar lighting system dubbed M-KOPA III, its third-generation pay as-you-go solar home solution also wired to M-PESA.

With two LED solar lights and one solar rechargeable LED torch, and a larger 8W panel that gives 60% more charging capacity. M-KOPA III comes with a solar rechargeable radio, a mobile phone charger and a larger battery unlike its predecessors and is upgradeable to include two additional solar lights – sold separately.

Jesse Moore, Managing Director and Co-Founder, M-KOPA Solar, “We are now connecting 2,000 homes to solar every week, and even bigger growth lies ahead. We have over 300 staff and 750 sales agents across the country who earn a good income selling M-KOPA products and services.  We welcome others to join our growing team and be part of this great company.”

says, ‘’We are very proud of the M-KOPA III product and our ongoing partnership with Safaricom.  Together we are helping Kenyans get rid of kerosene, improve their standard of living and save money all at once.  It’s a win-win for everyone.’’ as it steps up its campaign to provide clean lighting solutions to millions of homes that are not on the electricity grid.”

Following the removal of VAT on solar-powered devices, M-KOPA Solar has also announced a price reduction on the new units. Customers will now only pay an initial deposit of KES 2,999 followed by 365 daily payments of KES 40 instead of the initial KES 50.

74353_291776580944866_1726682220_nThe firm also announced that the KES 2,999 deposit is fully refundable at any time during the payment period and the system comes with a 2-year warranty. After 365 of KES 40 daily payments, the device is unlocked with no further payments required.

“With M-KOPA Solar, we have already connected 90,000 Kenyan homes to clean energy and with this upcoming suite of Safaricom-branded devices we aim to reach at least 1 million homes within the next four years”, says Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer, Bob Collymore.

Collymore added that M-KOPA III is more affordable compared to other lighting alternatives for people who do not have electricity. It also provides families with improved health, brighter light and reduces the risks associated with having a naked flame. Safaricom says by putting its brand on this device, it demonstrate their commitment towards harnessing mobile technology to build a brighter future for the country.

In April, the firm announced it had hit 60,000 sales with over 10,000 fully paid.

M-KOPA  Solar provides affordable solar-powered lighting and mobile charging to rural Kenyans on a pay-as-you-go basis, with payment via M-PESA. Founded by  the founders and former executives of Kenya’s popular M-PESA mobile money service, M-KOPA Solar works with Safaricom and solar lighting company d.light, and other experts to power rural homes in Kenya.

In February, M-KOPA Solar raised $ 20 million (Ksh 1.72billion) in debt financing and grants  to scale up its sales and operations in East Africa and expand into other markets, do R&D and business intelligence and also expand its user base which was then 50,000.

iWayAfrica launches fiber-optic services for Ugandan enterprises

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Pan African telecoms operator Gondwana International Networks (GIN) has today announced the launch of a new fiber-optic service by its Ugandan subsidiary iWayAfrica.

In a statement, Ken Mwai, the Managing Director of iWayAfrica Uganda, stated: “The demand for high capacity internet connectivity within corporate markets and enterprises in the major cities of Entebbe and Kampala were always increasing therefore the need for a substitute provider.”

iWayAfrica Uganda has the capacity to provide internet access to businesses at a fixed cost by connecting with Google’s Project Link, which is a metro fiber offered in Kampala. This allows them to deliver cost-effective solutions in a multi-tenant complex.

Mwai also noted that iWayAfrica Uganda is able to leverage hundreds of kilometers of optic fiber distributed by Google in Kampala and provide the advantage direct to businesses.

“Enterprise businesses in Kampala need authentic high-speed connectivity for voice, internet and data services. These services are required to provide shared cost of fiber, together with fast turn-around times for access as well as a network that provides multiple rings for protection against failures,” Mwai explained.

iWayAfrica is a leading African internet service provider (ISP) that provides solutions over fiber optic, wireless and satellite networks. Its expertise falls in installing, operating and designing networks to meet customers’ requirements.

Currently, iWayAfrica services more than 20000 consumer subscribers and some 67000 corporate subscribers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa.

CEO WEEKENDS: MTN South Africa uses street lights as Network Towers


MTN is distributing antennas on street light poles and setting up purpose-built pole masts with zero visual impact in a drive to improve quality of service and network coverage around northern and west Johannesburg.

The project is in line with a three-year contract  handed to MTN by City Power, after the power utility company called for interested parties to tender RFP (requests for proposals). City Power currently seeks to commercialise its infrastructure.

“The buildings’ density around northern and west Johannesburg has negatively affected the quality of service and network coverage, which has forced the company to consider ways of distributing its infrastructure because of the difficulties experienced with setting up conventional base stations within these areas,” said MTN.

According to Eben Albertyn, the Chief Technology Officer of MTN South Africa, clients will experience difference in the quality of service once the project is completed.

Albertyn added: “This solution once deployed will benefit our customers greatly since they will begin to experience faster internet speeds, better data and voice experience, improved network coverage and Wi-Fi fall-back once users become mobile.

“The enhanced data experience will enable users carry out activities that need a lot of bandwidth and that will improve the quality of their lives, which include video conferencing, remote home surveillance and home automation.”

The distribution started this week with the pole site installation in Bryanston. Some of the targeted areas include a number of suburbs within Saxonworld, Randburg, Bryanston and Fourways neighbourhoods.

Within the next four months, MTN expects to finish the first phase of this project.

The second phase of the project may depend on customer demand, MTN said.

City Power cable-theft suspects arrested and suspended


Power utility firm City Power has revealed that five of its employees caught stealing cable drums worth R4.5m from the Randburg depot in Johannesburg on Tuesday have been arrested.

City Power

According to City Power’s managing director Sicelo Xulu, the two-team leaders and three electricians have since been charged with theft and fraud.

Each of the stolen cable drums carries 300m long cable.

“The arrest of these workers follows a complete audit and inventory of cable equipment. Investigations are being done to determine if the employees were linked to planned crime syndicates though more arrests are expected once the probe is complete,” Xulu said.

He mentioned that the arrests are part of their anti-corruption operation that tries to free the utility of criminal elements.

“From July 2013 to June 2014, a total of 227 people were arrested for vandalism of electricity equipment and cable theft. 86-percent of those arrested were convicted,” stated Xulu.

City Power also suspended the five employees.

Nigeria Unveils Electricity Market Payment System


Nigeria’s Minister of Power Chinedu Nebo has unveiled the Electricity Market Permanent Payment System, restating the government’s commitment to ensuring transparency and efficiency in the power sector.

electricity payment market system

Speaking at the Apo Transmission Station in Abuja, Nebo said the day’s new payment system indicates a real platform take-over from Government control — through the market operators — to the individual owners of power legacy assets.

Nebo remarked that he is satisfied with the development, expressing belief that the new initiative will assist bridge the gap within revenue collection, as outputs and inputs are all evaluated. He added that each player in the sector has access to the platform.

Nebo also called on the new power sector investors to invest greatly in metering the down-stream and up-stream electricity flow.

Ngozi Osuhor, the Market Operator, said, “The platform is a countrywide project that will join power generation and distribution firms. The participation of the private sector in the handling of meters has continually taken the power sector to the declaration of Transitional Electricity Market (TEM).”

While assessing the sector, Godknows Igali, who is the Permanent Secretary in the Power Ministry, said the power sector is moving in stages although in the right direction adding that in the near future, it would get to its crusing level.

Africa has 70 years of natural gas reserves at current consumption, the 2nd most globally


Graph1.31The Reserves-to-Production (R/P) ratio measures how long it would take for a natural resource to be depleted if production levels were to remain constant. Based on natural gas reserves and production levels of 2013, Africa has the second highest R/P ratio for natural gas in the world such that the current gas reserves would last for 70 more years, much more than North America’s 13 years and Asia Pacific’s 31 years. This demonstrates the potential and viability of investments in Africa’s natural gas industry. Read more here…

Kenyans to Get Cheaper Electricity as KenGen Adds 140MW to the National Grid


Data center - 1Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has announced today that it has added 140MW to the national grid from the 280 MW Olkaria geothermal project. Therefore Kenyans should expect to see the cost of electricity starting to decline in the coming months as geothermal gradually replaces the expensive thermal power.

The 140MW is from two units – one of which has already completed reliability test while the other is expected to complete the test by mid August. The firm also announced that two more units are expected to commence reliability tests in September and October respectively.

It is expected that before the end of the year, the entire 280 megawatts will be fully commissioned. The firm said it’s currently implementing the ambitious 280 MW geothermal project in Olkaria aimed at scaling up supply and reducing the cost of electricity.

“We have already uploaded 140 MW and the balance will be fully commissioned and connected to the national grid before the end of this year,” KenGen Managing Director and CEO Eng. Albert Mugo said.

Mugo  added that KenGen is also putting up mobile geothermal wellhead power plants which are expected to generate an additional 70MW, bringing to 350MW the total additional output from Olkaria.

“This year alone, 25.6 MW generated using this innovative method has been added to the national grid,” said Mr. Mugo.

To accelerate its geothermal power production programme, KenGen has also resorted to the mobile wellhead plants which are faster to deploy

Olkaria Dam Set To Double Kenya’s Electricity Output In Five Months


Kenya is known to be the first African country to tap into geothermal power to meet the electricity needs of its population. And when the expanded Olkaria geothermal plant becomes fully operational this year, it is expected to produce an additional 280 MW of energy, increasing Kenya’s electricity output.

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has so far built two plants to exploit the Olkaria geothermal resource, which includes Olkaria 1 generating 45 MW and Olkaria 2, generating 65 MW while the third privately owned Olkaria 3, generates 48 MW, giving a total of 200 MW of installed geothermal capacity, set to increase soon.

Yet, Kenya is expected to produce 5,500MW of geothermal power, making the country the largest source of clean energy in the next 15 years. As a step forward, in 2010, environmental impact assessments were conducted in the area that showed that previous geothermal plants had not negatively impacted the environment, making the government give a “go ahead” of Olkaria’s expansion set to be complete by end of 2014.

Worldwide, according to the CIA World Fact Book, at least 23 million GWh (Gigawatt hour) of power is produced, with China leading, producing 5,361,600 GWh. Kenya ranked 102nd on the list, still has a long way to go, as it produces 7,330GWh of electricity mainly coming from hydroelectric power, geothermal power, solar and wind energy.

In terms of geothermal energy, the Olkaria dam has come a long way. While its first phase was successfully completed in 1980, the government reserved 64 square kilometers of land in the vicinity, to become Hell’s Gate National Park. The agreement was that the park was to be restricted for wild animals, while KenGen would dig diagonally and access the pools of energy that lay underground, of which, is still continues to come to play.

Years later, in 2008, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between KenGen and the Kenyan Wildlife Service in which, it was agreed that KenGen would pay a sublease fee to KWS but it remain exempt from paying land rates within the Park. Thus, this opened up the potential for drilling wells in an area that was previously reserved for wildlife and tourism purposes.

On a positive note besides supplying Kenya’s electricity needs, the geothermal plant has left the impression that it would provide a green form of energy, leaving the wildlife in the area in peace. However, environmentalists have complained that the expansion of Olkaria geothermal plant will cut Hell’s Gate National Park by half, in turn affecting tourism.

Amidst concerns, as the geothermal expansion is currently being carried out, the Kenya government has set its target of being able to create 500 MW of geothermal energy by 2017.



IFC Invests $100 million in ACWA Power for Renewable Energy throughout MENA


1530576_708900849153737_196904696859592452_nWorld Bank Group Member IFC is set to invest up to $100 million in ACWA Power in a move to increase power generation from from renewable sources and meet growing energy demand throughout the Middle East and North Africa, the southern cone of Africa.

IThe investment will support ACWA Power’s plans to expand into emerging markets and seek Greenfield power projects, including thermal and renewable energy projects, within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries.

Paddy Padmanathan, President and CEO of ACWA Power in a statement said, “We are committed to delivering electricity at the lowest possible price to support the social and economic development of emerging economies in MENA. In particular, we hope to champion renewable energy in MENA and are excited by the possibilities that this partnership brings.”

IFC has financed nearly 2,000 megawatts of wind power and more than 650 megawatts of solar power in countries including China, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Jordan, South Africa, Chile and Mexico. Projects funded include many first-mover investors helping to develop viable new markets and establish a track record for others.

This is not the first time IFC is working with ACWA. IFC in 2011 financed ACWA Power’s expansion into Jordan. IFC is also considering investing with ACWA Power in the 160 megawatt Noor 1 project, in Ouarzazate, Morocco, which is the largest concentrated solar power project in the developing world.

“This partnership will help increase power generation capacity, which will help to meet the increasing demand in emerging markets, especially in MENA,  said Mouayed Makhlouf, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “ACWA Power’s success in emerging markets should set a strong example to encourage further cross-border foreign direct investments, especially from Gulf countries, to emerging countries within the region and beyond.

ACWA Power has added over 15,000 MW of power generation capacity in the last decade and is one of the world’s largest owners and operators of sea water desalination plants, all in emerging markets.

MTN launches solar cooling plant in SA


South Africa’s mobile telecoms operator MTN has launched a gigantic solar cooling plant at its nerve center in Johannesburg. The system is intended to refrigerate the company’s data centers.Solar cooling plant

The facility, which produces sufficient electricity to power 350 average-sized homes, uses Linear Fresnel Concentrating Solar Power technology. It has peak cooling capacity of 330Kw.

The system has 242 solar mirrors covering an area of 484 square meters. The mirrors track the sun to produce pressurized hot water at 180oC, which powers an “absorption chiller”. The chiller produces cooled water that circulates into the data centre for cooling IT equipment. The chillers use lithium-bromide water solution that relies on water for cooling. It is also expected to avert some 218 tons of carbon dioxide discharged yearly.

The mirrors track the sun’s movement and generate information that is redirected to the system, allowing it to monitor the sun and focus it on the heated central absorber tube.

The project is part of the global “dena Solar Roofs Programme” supported by the German federal ministry for economic affairs and energy in partnership with the German Energy Agency.

Security fears: LED light bulbs can leak passwords


Context Information Security, a UK-based security company, has revealed that LED light bulbs can leak Wi-Fi passwords to hackers. The company, in a statement, revealed that it managed to hack into Wi-Fi-enabled LIFX light bulb and remotely control the lights.Wi-Fi enabled LED light bulbs

The LIFX light bulb has network connectivity that allows it to be switched off and on using smartphones.

Research director at Context Information Security, Michael Jordon, explained to BBC how he was able to get the Wi-Fi password and username of a household that had installed the light bulb.

Jordon said that they purchased some bulbs and investigated how they communicated with each other. They found password and username among the message content exchanged.

He added that two experts took two weeks to crack the system using readily accessible and inexpensive equipment. They managed to steal the wireless network credentials by posing as a new bulb that sought to join the network. This allowed them to control the lights.

The light bulb obtains commands from the smartphone applications and transmits them to every bulb over a wireless mesh network.

LIFX, the firm behind the bulbs, has since updated its software after being notified of the vulnerability. The LIFX project began on Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website. Publicizing itself as the “light bulb reinvented”, the company made more than 13 times its original funding target.

LIFX stated that there was a possible security problem with the distribution of network configuration details on the mesh radio. However, no LIFX consumers have been affected.

“We recommend that all users need to stay updated with the most recent app and firmware updates,” LIFX said.

Everyday, objects are increasingly being connected to the network, a process called the ‘internet of things’. The possibility of a number of objects being hacked is set to increase exponentially, said research firm Gartner.

While laptops and phones have had a longer duration to correct security problems, these new devices have not learnt from the previous mistakes and are therefore easy gateways into hacking.

Brian McGuigan, Silver Spring Networks commercial director, stated that security issue was not limited to home devices as most furniture in cities are also connected to the network.

Silver Spring Networks provides networks for smart lighting and smart cities

The users in cities have minimal understanding of security so producers should be encouraged to leverage the security standards that have been utilized widely in other industries, McGuigan further noted. Cities are using the ‘internet of things’ to act as a building block though most companies providing new products are start-ups and under pressure to market their products fast, he noted.

GE Launches “Garages” Skill-Building Centre in Nigeria to Spur Innovation & Job Creation


OilGas5178_web-2000x500In a move to show its committment to supporting economic growth in Africa and driving both awareness and education on entrepreneurship via technology, hardware and software innovations in the industry, General Electric, the Dangote Foundation and Points of Light have launched the GE’s Garages program in Nigeria to spur innovation and manufacturing.

The centre is aimed at helping makers and entrepreneurs acquire new skills and learn about advanced manufacturing technologies and is set to run from 23 June to 11 July at GE‘s regional headquarters in Lagos, Garages Nigeria.

According to GE’s Global Supply Chain Leader for Africa Phil Griffith, “We are glad that GE and Dangote Foundation are working on an initiative that will equip Nigerians with the skills that are crucial in the development of the Power Generation sector – and make Nigerians more employable in a fast changing technology-driven world.”

The program will feature curated speakers sessions and workshops amidst a fully equipped fab lab. Participants will work with technical experts and use advanced hardware and software to bring their ideas to life, using equipment like CNC mills, laser cutters, 3D printers, and electrical engineering kits to quickly and collaboratively create new parts and prototypes.

Garages Nigeria will train skilled entrepreneurs, employable workers and create employment opportunities amongst service suppliers within the growing Power Generation sector. With the help of GE Foundation partner Points of Light, GE will activate its 400+ employees in Nigeria, as well as the global African Affinity Forum within GE, to create a network of mentors, coaches and teachers for program participants.

Though the first phase will focus on the Power Generation sector, the program is likely to expand to serve other core industries such as healthcare and telecommunications.

Director of Dangote Foundation Adiahmbo Odaga said, “I am delighted to work with GE to set up a learning environment that is different from the traditional classroom. This program is unique in that it is focused in both the classroom, as well as in the real-world – providing hands-on training in advanced manufacturing and production technology.”

The Dangote Foundation will help produce and maintain the program and will collaborate on curriculum development for entrepreneurial and non-skilled participants.

GE created the Garages experience in 2012 to reinvigorate interest in invention, innovation and manufacturing. The Garages are present in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. and are being expanded globally to foster a culture of collaboration, makers and entrepreneurs around the world. GE has over 400 employees in Nigeria and 1800 employees across 35 countries in the Africa region.