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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Canada’s Windiga Energy Pours $50-Million on New Power Project in Burkina Faso

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Elliott WaveCanada’s Windiga Energy Inc., an independent power producer recently signed a $50-million contract to build a solar power plant in Zina, Burkina Faso in a bid to put several rural communities on a reliable power supply.

The deal was signed between the government of Canada and Burkina Faso and Canada is the largest foreign investor in Burkina Faso, a priority market under Canada’s Global Markets Action Plan.

Windiga Energy is headquartered in Montréal and employs eight people there and six in West Africa and is part of part of the Government of Canada’s pro-trade plan to support Canadian businesses, especially small and medium-sized ones, seeking to explore opportunities in new markets.

“We are committed to creating the right conditions for Canadian businesses, especially our small and medium-sized businesses, compete, succeed and expand internationally. Our government will continue to support Canadian companies as they create jobs, as part of our government’s most ambitious pro-trade, pro-export plan in Canadian history,” said Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International Trade.

With operations in Ghana, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso, Windiga Energy was founded in 2010 and focuses on renewable energy facilities on the African continent. Since 1995, the firm has overseen an investment of more than U.S. $ 500 million in the region.

“We are very pleased with the support we received from both governments, which allowed us to conclude a strategic agreement to build a major—22 solar MW—renewable energy project.” said Benoît Lasalle, President and CEO of Windiga Energy Inc.

 

MTN Rated Among Top Sustainable Global Companies by Newsweek

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MTN_Logo_onlyMTN Group has been rated among the top 500 global firms on corporate sustainability and environmental impact by Newseek in its 2014 Green Rankings.

Done in partnership with Corporate Knights Capital and top NGOs and academic and accounting communities, Newsweek Green Rankings are the world’s foremost corporate environmental rankings.

In markets without environmental regulation, MTN says the recognition is humbling.

“MTN is on this journey not only because it makes commercial sense; we operate in some of the most environmentally-vulnerable parts of the world, where our customers often have the fewest economic resources to cope with the effects of climate change. As a result, we are conscious of the positive role we can play,” says Paul Norman, MTN Group Chief HR & Corporate Affairs Officer.

The 2014 Newsweek Green Rankings measures the environmental performance of large public companies using eight clearly defined performance indicators, including Combined Energy and Waste Productivity. MTN is ranked in position 276, with a Green Score of 35.4 percent.

“This ranking is recognition of our years of hard work on being environmentally responsible across the business. By ensuring we take our environmental responsibilities seriously, we hope to mitigate our impact on our customers’ environments,” adds Norman.

Recently, MTN South Africa partnered with the National Business Institute’s (NBI) Private Sector Energy Efficiency (PSEE) to help MTN to further improve on efforts to reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

MTN aims to reduce energy use and switch to alternative energy across Africa and the Middle East by affordable solar-powered charging solutions rolled out to customers in Uganda, Rwanda and Nigeria, and climate-friendly technologies implemented from Cyprus to Swaziland. MTN also offers cloud-computing and machine-to-machine products to address water leakage, air quality requirements, grid power and much more.

MTN has also successfully concluded a partnership with Deutsche Gesellschaft fűr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which saw the company handover approximately 469 tonnes of electronic waste and electrical equipment (e-waste) to waste handlers and recyclers. This initiative will help MTN ensure e-waste is responsibly dismantled, reused or disposed, while ultimately improving the financial sustainability and ability of the e-waste handlers to create more employment. Three of the four permanent handlers selected by MTN are SMEs. Along with over 40 other organisations, the e-waste handlers also received free training.

Ford & Heinz Partner to Use Tomato Fibres to Manufacture Cars

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Ford - Heinz SustainabilityYou might not believe it, but anyway we are not here to convert you. However, researchers at Ford Motor Company and H.J. Heinz Company are investigating the use of tomato fibres in vehicle manufacturing.

Of course you have questions but the dried tomato skins will not be used to build your car engine but could become the wiring brackets in a Ford vehicle or the storage bin a Ford customer uses to hold coins and other small objects.

Ellen Lee, plastics research technical specialist for Ford stated,“We are exploring whether this food processing byproduct makes sense for an automotive application. Our goal is to develop a strong, lightweight material that meets our vehicle requirements, while at the same time reducing our overall environmental impact.”

This might be news to you but nearly two years ago, Ford began collaborating with Heinz, The Coca-Cola Company, Nike Inc. and Procter & Gamble to develop a 100 percent plant-based plastic to be used to make everything from fabric to packaging and with a lower environmental impact than petroleum-based packaging materials currently in use.

At Heinz, researchers were looking for innovative ways to recycle and repurpose peels, stems and seeds from the more than two million tons of tomatoes the company uses annually to produce its best-selling product: Heinz Ketchup. Leaders at Heinz then turned to Ford.

“We are delighted that the technology has been validated,” said Vidhu Nagpal, associate director, packaging R&D for Heinz. “Although we are in the very early stages of research, and many questions remain, we are excited about the possibilities this could produce for both Heinz and Ford, and the advancement of sustainable 100% plant-based plastics.”

image002(1)Ford’s commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle is part of the company’s global sustainability strategy to lessen its environmental footprint while accelerating development of fuel-efficient vehicle technology worldwide. In recent years, Ford has increased its use of recycled non-metal and bio-based materials. With cellulose fibre-reinforced console components and rice hull-filled electrical cowl brackets introduced in the last year, Ford’s bio-based portfolio now includes eight materials in production.

Ford may also uses coconut-based composite materials, recycled cotton material for carpeting and seat fabrics, and soy foam seat cushions and head restraints.

 

Oilnewskenya.com Wants to be the Go-to Site for All Information on Oil & Gas.

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oil pump sunsetRecently launched OilnewsKenya.com wants to be the go-to site for everything oil and gas in Kenya and the entire region for explorers, investors and stakeholders in the oil and gas industry.

The site has information on the new industry, facts and statistics and the main players in the regions oil industry

Speaking to TechMoran, Kamau Mbote, the founder said, “Oil is a very capital intensive industry and companies want to have proper information before they can embark on any investment. Lack of proper information could lead in ill advised decisions and this mistakes run into their billions. The website will therefore help companies make smarter decisions.”

There is a growing interest from investors in the oil and gas sectors in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique as the new oil and gas frontier. Mbote,  journalist, reckons that despite the potential and the interest in the region there still lacks a platform from where interested parties can get credible news.

“When we started the website it was more of the desire to specialize in a new area of news that did not have a single journalist focusing on. Two weeks into the writing there was a discovery by Tullow Oil that saw the audience increase ten-fold as interested Kenyans and players in this field sought a credible news source,” says Mbote.

Within weeks of launch, the platform has already beenpartner with Eastern Africa Oil, Gas, LNG and energy conferences recently held in Nairobi.

Kenya has been exploring for oil and gas since the early 1950’s with BP and Shell drilled their first well in Lamu in 1960 showing several indications of oil staining and untested zones with gas shows. It would however take 50 years before the first commercial quantities of oil would be discovered by British explorer Tullow Oil in Turkana at Ngamia 1 well. Since the discovery which have been followed by numerous others there has been a rush to explore the various blocks in the country and thus an increased interest in the oil and gas industry in Kenya. Kenya has an estimated oil resource of 600mmboe with the potential in the country expected to be much higher. Other neighbouring countries namely Uganda has a discovered oil reserves estimated to be 3.5 barrels while Tanzania and Mozambique have also discovered natural gas in large quantities.

Mbote says putting the developments of the industry in the limelight is important as ” investors in the equity markets a discovery or a dry whole would result to a change in the share price almost instantly. Such people want to be the first to get such news so that they can make smart moves.”

Vivo Energy Kenya Launches a Mobile Fuel Testing Laboratory

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Vivo Energy Kenya, the company that distributes and markets Shell branded fuels and lubricants, has today launched a mobile fuel testing laboratory a first of its kind by an Oil Marketing Company (OMC) in Kenya.

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This initiative is set to augment the stringent quality control processes that has been implemented throughout the company’s distribution chain. Every motorist’s nightmare is buying adulterated fuels since it damages and shortens the lifespan of the vehicle’s engine. Now henceforth it will be possible to ascertain  fuel quality at any Shell fuel stations.

Speaking during the launch Vivo Energy Kenya Managing Director, Polycarp Igathe said, “we value our customers and we go through all the processes to ensure that they receive quality products whenever they visit our service stations. We are alive to the fact that that some unscrupulous traders are dealing with adulterated fuels. This is why we have gone an extra mile to bring in the mobile Laboratory in to the market to ensure that we beef up our testing process.”

vivo

The mobile lab, fitted into a vehicle, will be collecting samples randomly from Shell stations and  commercial customer sites then  conducting basic quality tests on site, while also returning samples to the main laboratories at the depots for further analysis where issues are detected.

The mobile testing lab is equipped to produce key test results within 30 minutes. It has a temperature-controlled box to store samples, and also has a sealed/lockable cabinet that is mounted to the floor of the vehicle. The mounting includes special suspension mechanisms so that the vibrations of the moving vehicle do not negatively affect the samples.

The mobile testing lab will be working in collaboration with the trained quality marshals already present at every Shell Service station. Quality marshals receive product, compare loading parameters against offloading parameters, regularly test the product to reconfirm quality, test and confirm the calibration of the pumps, and handle any quality related issues at the station.

Mr. Igathe further added, ” Safety is paramount in Vivo Energy Kenya operations and nothing is left to chance. We appreciate the efforts that the government and its various energy bodies are doing to curb fuel adulteration. To further boost these efforts we urge them to support us as we continually seal avenues that allow this vice.”

The Mobile Laboratory was officially commissioned by a team comprising of, SGS Managing Director Mr. Albert Stokell, Kenya Bureau of Standards-(KEBS) Manager Petroleum Mr. Paschal Vusa and the Vivo Energy Kenya Managing Director Mr. Polycarp Igathe.

Kiva Zip’s vision for Kenyan Entrepreneurs

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Kiva Zip Kenya 2014 perspective from Program Manager, Akash Trivedi:

Nearly 2.5 billion people in the world today are financially excluded. 80% of them – nearly 2 billion individuals – live on less than $2 a day; and of these, only 25% have been afforded the opportunity to save money at a formal or semi-formal financial institution (e.g. Banks and Microfinance Institutions).

In Kenya alone, 60% of the adult population does not have access to traditional forms of financing – forced instead to rely on exorbitantly priced money lenders and/or local community savings groups, which don’t always offer the most flexibility in terms of liquidity.

While Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) like Faulu, Kadet, and K-REP and banks like Equity continue to (courageously) push the boundaries of financial inclusion outward, the fact remains that many of these entities, by virtue of their business models, will nevertheless fall short of serving the most excluded and underserved populations. Not because of a lack of “want to” but because as for profit organizations trying to keep themselves out of the red, they can ill afford to take risks on entrepreneurs that live in remote communities, have health issues, are under the age of 25, or have startup businesses.

With Kiva Zip, a new web-based not-for-profit direct lending platform that combines crowdfunding and mobile payment technology we aim to change this, and in so doing extend the reach of microcredit farther than ever before.

For starters, when a borrower posts their picture, story, and loan request to our website, they are not funded by a bank or an MFI but by ordinary people from all over the world contributing as little as $5 and seeking no return other than meaningful human connection – which is to say all of our loans are genuinely 0% interest and genuinely affordable.

Secondly, by using M-PESA to send money directly to borrowers via their mobile phone, we’re able to connect to thousands of individuals without multiple physical locations – even if they live in far off places like Mfangano Island in Lake Victoria.

SURVEYFinally, and perhaps most importantly, by partnering with what we call trustee partners – a broad term that includes community leaders, churches, technical assistance providers, youth training organizations etc – we’re able to identify and evaluate entrepreneurs on the basis of their character and work-ethic instead of limiting financial criteria such as how much collateral they have or what their balance sheet looks like.

One trustee in particular that underscores the inherent value and potential of social underwriting is Youth Banner (TYB). Youth Banner, as the name would suggest, is not an MFI or a bank; it doesn’t have credit officers, doesn’t have experience managing credit risk, and before Kiva Zip had never given out loans. But it is an exceptional organization whose sole mission is to empower young people through entrepreneurship.  Case in point, each of TYB’s kids must commit to a rigorous three-step program before they join – an intense 3 month business mentorship and training course, the formal registration of a viable business, and lastly regular check-ins and 1:1 coaching sessions once their business is up and running. By the time they’re done, these young entrepreneurs have developed a lasting and intimate relationship TYB and its team. Who better than Youth Banner then to assess which of these young entrepreneurs will be able to take full advantage of a small 0% interest business loan and have the moral fiber to pay back? A bank?

Trustee The Youth Banner
Trustee The Youth Banner

 

   If there’s one thing we’ve learned since we launched in late 2011 it is that when you can identify the right people for a loan, impact is sure to follow. Take Yohannes for example. Yohannes is a refugee from Ethiopia. He has been living in Kenya since 2011, has all his proper documentation and by every definition of the word – I’ve personally met him – is a gem of a human being; however given his social standing, he would have never have qualified for credit on his own. In fact, had it not been for his trustee RefugePoint’s unwavering belief in his worth as a person and as an entrepreneur, he would likely still be scraping by selling secondhand shoes and eating 1 meal a day. But after completing his second Zip loan he is now selling brand new football jerseys, significantly increasing his business; he is eating three full meals a day; and he has even taught himself how to use the internet. Not only that, he has so much more self-confidence. He has registered for multiple marathons, and has mentioned on more than one occasion that he would very much like to become a trustee one day so that he too, can help people in his community. Neither of which, he would have been possible 18 months ago.

  In so many ways, Yohannes is symbolic of the Kiva Zip story. In a little over 2 and half years, our small little program has made over 2000 loans year in Kenya through approximately 160 trustee partners – surpassing even our wildest dreams. But the thing is we’re just now beginning to figure out what’s possible. While we won’t be running marathons any time soon, if what we’ve seen in the past several months is any indication, we’re on the verge of creating something special. Imagine a future where leaders from all walks of life and sectors come together to form an exclusive community whose sole purpose is to help one another galvanize aspiring entrepreneurs;  imagine a future where these entrepreneurs can connect with one another and lenders all over the world, sharing information and forging bonds that will enable them to grow their business and secure their dignity; and imagine a future where after lifting themselves up, these entrepreneurs can pay it forward by endorsing/lending to other hardworking individuals in their own social network. It might sound farfetched but I can assure you, it’s not.

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Kiva Zip Team and Trustees

 

If you are an aspiring entrepreneur or know of one who deserves a hand up, join us. Together, I believe we can go far.

To learn more please visit www.zip.kiva.org 

and join our Twitter:  Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 3.16.06 PM

 

Critical Power to invest Shs100 million in back-up solutions & renewable energy

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imagesCritical Power plans to invest more than Sh100 million to provide power backup solutions and renewable energy to businesses in East Africa in a move to exploit the growing need for power protection solutions occasioned by frequent power outages by providing power generators, uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and power inverter systems.

Critical Power will also offer alternative power such as solar, biomass and small hydro stations to businesses and homes.

“There is a growing demand for solar and biomass energy as an alternative source of energy. The prices have since reduced and therefore solar is now affordable and a lot of offices and homes have switched to using solar as their main source of energy,” said Mr James Mwangi, Chief Executive Officer, Critical Power East Africa Limited.

He also said the company is focusing on the regional market with plans to offer power management, protection and back-up solutions in Rwanda, Burundi and Sudan in the next two years.

Kenya and other East African economies face frequent power outages due to supply shortfalls and aging grid networks. This offers investors an opportunity to offer power back up solutions.

Critical Power said it will introduce new technologies such as integrating different sources of power through an intelligent control units which results in huge savings on energy costs.

The system allows seamless integration of solar, diesel generators and biomass to allow switching from one form of energy source to the other in the event of a blackout or to cut electricity bills.

Most parts of Kenya experience sunshine throughout the year, making the country ideal for solar panels to power homes and offices. Critical Power will also use agricultural waste such as cow dung to generate biogas and electricity.

“Biogas is very popular in the upcountry especially with large scale farmers and institutions.”

The government has zero-rated import duty and removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on renewable energy, equipment and accessories.

Mwangi lauded the move saying it will make easy for majority of Kenyans to access solar energy as the cost of buying and installation is expected to come down by at least 30 percent.

The Energy Regulatory Commission has introduced Solar Water Heating Regulations which makes it necessary to install solar power at hotels and large water users, with a view to mitigate the challenges faced in exploiting the solar energy resource. This is also in line with grid energy saving which can be diverted for industrial use in line with Vision 2030.

Environmental Conservation – The Untapped Tech Frontier

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Netfund

By Nguru Mugendi,

Kenya has been dubbed the Sillicon Savannah; with good reason. From this small East African country, technologies that have and continue to change the world have been borne (I will spare you the nearly cliché M-PESA story) and investors have, over-time taken note and sunk in millions of dollars in search of the next big thing!

But as we industrialize; as populations migrate into our cities; as the demand for fuel depletes our carbon resources; as the manace that is urban waste becomes more eminent, we have changed our environment, altered weather patterns and in more case than I can cite, we have put ourselves at the mercy of mother-nature! It is no wonder that the current rate of desertification is unparalleled. Our climate is unpredictable and cycles of insufficient rains followed long draughts has become the order of the day. Na bado tunaomba serikali!

You will agree with me that if anyone (by kuomba serikali) ever expected an immediate answer, then he/she must have been dreaming! Right?

Well, the National Environmental Trust Fund (NETFUND) has answered. Actually, they have been doing so for a while, but this is worth venturing into.

NETFUND, in cognisance of the fact that Kenya indeed possesses some of the greatest minds in Africa, has launched the NETFUND Green Innovation Award. This award is aimed at celebrating great innovations that contribute to environmental conservation. The award is open to individual innovators, companies and even institutions.

What is great about this award is that it is more than one day of fame for the winners. NETFUND has gone ahead and identified partners who will then help incubate winning projects so as to ensure that simple ideas and prototypes can transit into products ready for the market. Innovators will be guided through the rigors of creating sustainable and scalable “green businesses”.

This is a first in Kenya (and probably in the region) and while the submissions are still open, you have a chance to enter your innovations before July 30th, 2014 and hopefully, we could be using your dust-paper to print forms like this in the very near future!

 

 

Kenya’s KenGen Unveils The Great Dams Race To Conserve Nature

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The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen), has officially unveiled the Great Dams Race, an annual event seeking to create environmental awareness and raise funds to conserve the Seven Forks ecosystem.

The race is scheduled to take place on Saturday June 14, 2014 along the scenic backdrop of Masinga Dam and Mwea National Reserve. Unlike other annual races, this race offers a unique mix of marine and rugged savannah terrain for professional and amateur runners and provides an exceptional fun weekend for families.

The Seven Forks is home to five hydropower stations, which generate over 50 percent of the country’s electric power.

Masinga Dam is the largest in the Seven Forks cascade, located about 2 hours away from Nairobi (150 kilometers), off the Thika-Garissa road. Other dams in the cascade (Kamburu, Gitaru, Kindaruma and Kiambere) are located within reach and participants have the opportunity to visit and experience their unrivalled beauty.

The race offers a 21-kilometer half marathon as well as a 10-kilometer race. The event will kick off early Saturday morning culminating in an evening of lively entertainment. Participants will have the opportunity to tour a power plant, engage in boat rides and fishing in Masinga dam.

KenGen Managing Director and Chief Executive Albert Mugo said: “Our aim is to not only ensure Kenya’s energy security, but to also encourage organizations, the public and local communities to actively participate in environmental conservation for a sustainable future.”

He urged Kenyans to enroll in large numbers for the race as a way of contributing to the protection of the environment for present and future generations.

To enroll, participants will pay Ksh12,000,($138) while corporate teams of up to ten participants each will pay Ksh120,000 ($1380). Community members will pay Ksh200($2). Winners in the 21-kilometer individual male and female category will be awarded a cash prize of Ksh50,000 ($575) and a trophy, while second and third runners-up will receive cash prizes worth Ksh25,000 ($288) and Ksh15,000 ($173) respectively.  Corporate teams category winners will receive Ksh120,000($1380) which will be donated to a community project.

KenGen Foundation Managing Trustee, Mike Njeru said proceeds from the race will be used in supporting various environmental initiatives including the Green Schools Initiative challenge – an afforestation project targeting primary and secondary schools.

MTN Nigeria & Nova-Lumos Partner to Launch Africa’s First Mobile Electricity

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home1In February, Nova Lumos announced it would partner with MTN Nigeria and Cellcom Guinee to launch a new pay-as-you-go solar home system via mobile operator’s airtime after winning a seed grant from Mobile Enabled Community Services (MECS) Innovation Grant Fund.
The firm has kept its promise.
Today, the firm together with MTN has launched a next-generation alternative “mobile electricity” service to provide alternative electricity to MTN customers who are living in rural areas across Nigeria and are not connected to the electricity grid.

According to the firm, it will deploy a solar panel and an indoor unit that allows MTN customers to subscribe to alternative electricity on demand using their mobile phone. Nova-Lumos aims to help MTN customers ditch kerosene, candles and flashlights  with its alternative that can power house lights, cellphones, fans, PCs or laptops, radios, TVs and other small electronic devices at home daily.

“By paying for usage only in small payments, the same way our customers purchase airtime and other mobile services, MTN and Nova-Lumos will offer an innovative and widely-accessible service for all MTN customers”, said Michael Ikpoki, MTN Nigeria CEO. “MTN is committed to investing in the future of mobile electricity to our customers across Nigeria”, he added.

The availability of the devices will be announced soon.

Maendeleo Foundation’s Solar Classrooms Light Up African Education

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Image:inhabitat.com
Image:inhabitat.com
Image:inhabitat.com

For Asia Kamukama, innovation means a four-by-four with solar panels strapped to the roof, the boot containing all the equipment needed for a fully-functional ICT classroom. She is Executive Director of the Maendeleo Foundation, an organisation that makes computers available in areas of Uganda where there is no electricity or broadband Internet.

While infrastructure in the equatorial region is underdeveloped, it does have a key advantage: plentiful, reliable sunlight. Mobile solar classrooms, an ever more common sight trundling along the potholed roads of rural Africa, show that the creative use of an abundant resource can overcome disadvantages.

In this way the Maendeleo Foundation has reached 37,000 people in East Africa – 80% students, but also teachers and out-of-school groups: youth, women, farmers and local business people.

For Asia Kamukama, the solar school is not a stop-gap solution, but a complement to the education system and a vital technology for future sustainable development across Africa. She believes it is now the task of governments to carry on her work. In her opinion: “Solar schemes, if subsidised and promoted across Africa, offer affordable power solutions to all income brackets.”

One place where innovators and policy makers come together, to make their voices heard and work together for change, is the eLearning Africa Conference. Taking place in Kampala, Uganda, from 28 – 30 May this year, its programme, now online, unites developers, researchers, technologists and teachers from across the Continent under a common theme.

This year’s edition, “Opening Frontiers to the Future”, is set to highlight the many ways in which innovations in education, such as the solar classrooms, are helping to realise Africa’s potential.

Keynote speakers including leading entrepreneur Rebecca Enonchong and Bitange Ndemo, senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi and former Permanent Secretary of Kenya’s Ministry of Information and Communication, will present expert commentary, success stories and incisive critiques of Africa’s eLearning scene. Giving key insight from some of the most influential companies in the eLearning sector will be: Noah Samara, Chairman and CEO of Yazmi; Jochen Polster, Vice President EMEA, NComputing; Mark East, General Manager Microsoft EMEA and ASIA Education Industry Group; and Bright Simons, writer, researcher, social entrepreneur and President of pioneering eHealth network mPedigree.

Over 60 parallel sessions will highlight the staggering diversity of technology and education that is transforming education in Africa. In addition, on the 28th, a varied selection of workshops will give participants the opportunity to learn hands-on skills for blogging, digital video authorship and digital entrepreneurship.

A diverse mix of grassroots practitioners, governmental representatives, academic researchers and teachers, business leaders and innovators, this Conference will be an opportunity for all to learn, share and inspire each other to work towards the fulfilment of Africa’s potential.

Africa’s proven oil reserves have more than doubled since 1980

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Graph1Africa’s proven oil reserves have grown from 57 billion barrels in 1980 to 124 billion barrels in 2012 with an additional 100 billion barrels estimated to be offshore. Four of the top 20 countries with the most proven oil reserves are African, namely Libya, Nigeria, Algeria and Angola and together they account for 6.5% of the world’s total oil reserves. It is further estimated that in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, crude oil production will grow from 7.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2013 to 8.8 million bpd in 2020 with Nigeria as the region’s top exporter (est. 2.34 million bpd). Read more here…