Africa

Liberia return toxic waste shipment to Europe

The authorities of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia (EPA) have ordered the sending back of four containers. The shipment from Greece had been smuggled into Liberia, containing chemical waste harmful to health and the environment.

 

Liberia refuses to become a dumping ground for toxic waste produced by developed countries. On the 2nd of January 2020, the anti-smuggling unit at the port of Monrovia quarantined four 40-foot containers. This was after finding that an unusual and foul-smelling odour was emanating from the containers, which had been smuggled into Liberia from Greece by Republic Waste Services, a US waste management company.

Africa, Europe’s dumping ground

Many developed countries advocate a circular economy, recycling their waste. However, when it comes to toxic waste, it is most often exported. Apart from Asia, their destination is also Africa. The continent is therefore submerged in waste. Uncontrolled dumps are appearing and several countries, including Ethiopia, Congo, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Mali and Niger, see their dumps overflowing with household waste, but also with toxic materials or electronic equipment from developed countries.

The case of the Probo Koala, a cargo ship chartered by the multinational Trafigura, is a perfect illustration of this. In 2006, the ship’s toxic cargo from Panama, carrying several tonnes of toxic waste, had dumped its deadly cargo in Abidjan-Ivory Coast, officially causing 17 deaths and 43,000 intoxication cases.

A disaster that could have been avoided if only international agreements on waste trafficking were respected. Such is the case with the Basel Convention, which came into force in 1992. It prohibits the import and disposal of hazardous waste from industralised countries to developing countries. This international treaty establishes a procedure that includes strict requirements and requires the consent of the receiving country for any transboundary movement of hazardous waste.

 

Suspicions by the port authorities will soon be confirmed by Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). At a press conference on January 10, 2020, in the capital Monrovia, the EPA stated that an analysis of samples found that the four containers were filled with toxic waste. The tests confirmed, among others, the presence of three hazardous organic compounds: 1-butane, 1-hexane and 1-octene. These are wastes whose recycling is prohibited in Greece because of their danger to the environment and human health.

 

In accordance with Article 55-1 of the Environmental Protection and Management Law (EMPL) of Liberia, which prohibits the illegal import of any hazardous waste or substance into Liberia, the EPA ordered with immediate effect, the repatriation of the four containers to their consignor (Stayropoulou Dimitra) in Greece. “In our opinion, the shipper was looking for a safe dumping ground under the pretext of selling recyclable materials. Unfortunately, the dump in this case was Liberia,” said EPA Director General Dr. Blama.

Kenya: Growing traditional crops help cope with climate change

Many households in sub-Saharan Afria struggle with poverty and food insecurity. Now climate change hit their harvests and makes life even harder. But finding new markets for hardy indigenous grains like millet, that can better stand up to extreme weather and changing pests, and produce a reliable harvest, can help, agricultural scientists say.

Patrick Maundu, an ethnobotanist at the National Museums of Kenya and an honorary fellow with Bioversity International, an organisation that promotes agricultural biodiversity, said millet is a traditional Kenyan crop - just one that, over the years, lost ground to maize.

The change came as a result of the intense promotion of maize production by governments, research groups and multinational companies selling products in Africa, he said.

"Millet is well adapted to dry parts of Africa but has been neglected because of ... key policies focused on maize, taking over indigenous cereals," he said in an interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

But in the recent years, wilder weather linked to climate change and the high cost of farm inputs - which farmers can struggle to pay if harvests fail - has made maize farming less reliable, particularly for small-scale farmers like those in Embu, Maundu said.

That has pushed many farmers to diversify back into drought-resistant traditional crops. The amount of farm acreage planted with maize in Kenya has therefore fallen by about a quarter in recent years, according to data from Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture.

Still, finding a ready market for crops like millet - and getting people to resume eating them - can be a challenge.

But Kenyan millet farming entrepreneurs now say that the key to making the new crops pay is adding value to what was harvested. One example is the thriving use of millet instead of maize for popcorn.

The puffed millet, besides being tasty, has boosted employment opportunities in Embu and helped reduce food waste because it can be stored longer.

Stella Gathaka 30, who formerly worked as a food vendor, is now one of four workers at small factory making puffed millet.

Besides earning a salary, her new job allows her children to eat the millet snacks, which are more nutritious than their previous snack of sweet wheat biscuits.

These days, "I'm very knowledgeable on the importance of millet as a nutritious crop," she said.

Daniel Kirori, operations director at DK Engineering Ltd., which assembles the popping machines, said his company had sold about 15 of them so far to women's groups and other entrepreneurs around Kenya.

According to a 2017 United Nations report on the state of food security and nutrition, climate change pressures, from worsening droughts to floods, heatwaves and storms, are a key reason about 800 million people still lack access to enough food. Producing more millet and other traditional hardy crops, and finding ways to process them to produce more income, is one way of doing that.

Emily Wawira, a small-scale millet farmer in Embu who sells her produce to Gichangi, said she sells 10 to 20 sacks of grain each year, each weighing 90 kilos, and earns $25 to $30 per sack.

That income "is enough to pay school fees," she said - and an improvement on her former loss-making maize farming.

Source: Reuters

Power One runs on Women's Power

Swedish Power One develops renewable energy solutions in Africa and has initiated a collaboration to electrify previously un-electrified areas with the help of women.

 

Power One has developed an energy solution together with L3, consisting of a smaller solar power plant that stores the energy in a number of batteries, which are then distributed by women to the connected homes. With this method, Power One can also offer electrification of areas where an electricity grid becomes too expensive due to distance.

- By distributing the energy with portable batteries instead of a costly grid, we save on grid costs and can instead provide cheap energy and jobs for the population of women in these areas. In this way, we can offer electrification to populations whose ability to pay would otherwise not cover the costs of an electricity grid. A pure win-win arrangement, says Peter Rinaldo, CEO of Power One.

Today's portable batteries are based on lithium, but organic alternatives have already been developed. As these are cheaper and easier to recycle, Power One will switch to organic batteries as soon as they are released on the market. However, the revolution with Power One's solution lies in the method of using women power as distribution instead of expensive electricity grids. It is a great opportunity for these areas to get started with electrification at a lower initial cost.

- Women's power as a distribution method is an organisational model based on a very practical reality analysis, namely that women generally focus more on long-term survival than men do", says Séraphine Barigenera, COO Power One Burundi.

 

Long-term thinking is crucial not only for the climate, but also for the survival on this planet. So, this must also be a base criteria for the economy. Power One has therefore designed an organisation that utilises the wisdoms of African women.

- By utilizing the power of African women, we create a business model that is both transparent, predictable and reliable - and which provides a safe investment for our investors, concludes Séraphine Barigenera, COO Power One Burundi.

Power One AB takes the fight against global warming

Power One does not consider that it is right to buy itself free of CO2 emissions and the company is now launching Ceeotoo Token.

 

Ceeotoo is an upcoming cryptocurrency where the value of each token corresponds to 1 ton reduction of carbon dioxide. Following the implementation of the ICO calculated on February 3, 2020, Ceeotoo will distribute the equivalent of $ 100 per ton of carbon dioxide saved. This means that a company institutions and private individuals should be able to apply for a distribution of Ceeotoo Tokens when showing saved CO2. In the long term this model can make a significant difference to our hard-pressed climate.

Ceeotoo also intends to acquire unexploited crude oil and keep it unexploited in the ground and also in this way prevent emissions. In addition, 5% of all income from the coming ICO will be used to plant trees and thus store CO2.

Power One has full confidence that interest in this model will be considerable.

Power One stores energy in both water and hydrogen

There is a great demand for energy storage today. Solar energy can only be collected during the daytime and therefore some of the energy generated during the daytime must be stored for night use. There are several efficient ways to store energy today, and different storage models have different advantages and disadvantages, but the most cost-effective way of storing energy today is through water.

 

Batteries are the most common principle of energy storage today. Lithium has a certain environmental impact, mainly in the manufacturing process. Therefore, there is not much that goes for that metal to provide the world with green energy storage.

Hydrogen is a very clean alternative that only needs items. solar energy and water to be manufactured. It is more expensive per stored kilowatt than Kinetic storage and battery storage. However, one of the benefits of hydrogen is that it is transportable to the place where it is needed. Ex. mining companies, factories, schools, etc. The infrastructure that is now being built is a so-called. Return system with tubes containing hydrogen.

Kinetic storage is a pure alternative compared to fossil fuels as an energy carrier. so pumped water is today the most cost-effective energy storage. What stops it is that it does not fit everywhere but the need exists for all green forms of energy storage.

Storage of pumped water is quite simple. The basic structure consists of an upper and a lower pond. From the upper pond, the water passes through a pipeline connected to a turbine generator, just as in all conventional hydroelectric power stations. The difference is that the turbine in a pumped storage facility can be transformed into a pump during the day to pump water back to the upper pond - for night use.

For pumped water storage of energy, there is a total storage potential of about 22 million GWh worldwide. These astonishing figures come from a report recently released by Professor Andrew Blakers and other researchers with the Australian National University's RE100 Group.

"Pumped water already accounts for 97% of electricity storage worldwide due to the low cost", says ANU, "and the proportion of wind and solar cells in the electricity grid is increasing significantly".

The huge storage potential is about a hundred times greater than what is needed to support a 100% global renewable electricity system, "says ANU. An approximate guide to the 100% renewable electricity storage requirements, based on analysis for Australia, is 1 GW of power per million people with 20 hours of storage, which equals 20 GWh per million people.

The concept has been developed by the Australian University and is based on small-scale PWS with a pair of reservoirs, separated by a height difference between 300 and 700 m, and connected by a pipe with a pump / turbine. Water circulates between the upper and lower containers in a closed loop to store and generate power. The stations can have a storage time of 4 to 20 hours and such a network of small-scale PWS provides sufficient storage capacity to stabilize the supply and ensure a stable supply from 100% renewable energy sources.

These smaller versions of PWS are mao. an inexpensive, reliable and sustainable alternative for energy storage. The only thing required is water and altitude difference. The method is thus dependent on the natural terrain, and works in naturally hilly regions.

Some energy companies have taken note of this and have developed these small PWS into a sustainable alternative for storage in areas with natural conditions. For example, the Swedish energy company Power One, which specialises in the electrification of Africa and its huge growth market in energy / stored energy. Now Power One is developing a combined integrated storage in both PWS and hydrogen for its projects in East Africa (Pilot area). In this way, cost-effectiveness will almost double, while Power-One can deliver energy both day and night to its customers.

Using the combination enables Power One to reach larger areas and markets for stored energy.

Welcome to join us on an exciting journey in green energy where there is enormous potential to do good for the planet, while at the same time accelerating development in developing countries. Within this segment, there is money to be made while contributing to a more viable environment.

Power One AB is an energy company that is at the forefront of global development. Right now, there is an issue in which the public has the opportunity to invest in the company.

During Q32020, management expects the company to be listed. www.poweroneburundi.com

 

Africa is showing the world how to get clean

When going to Africa travelers have to to pack very carefully. Several countries in Africa have already banned plastic bags, and if bringing plastic bags to those countries they will be confiscated at the airport. Rwanda made plastic bags illegal many years ago and others have followed suit. Now Tanzania has announced the implementation of the second phase of its plastic bag ban, and visitors are advised to avoid packing or carrying any plastic bags as they’ travel to Tanzania.

The first phase of the country’s anti-plastic initiative began in 2017 to “protect the youth and environment,” with an initial ban on the manufacture of plastic bags and in-country distribution. Phase two extends to tourists. “The government does not intend for visitors to Tanzania to find their stay unpleasant as we enforce the ban,” said a statement from vice president Samia Suluhu’s office. “However, the government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from the plastic bags ban.”

There are exceptions to the new rule for medical, industrial, construction, agricultural, and waste management packaging, as well as for the small “ziploc” bags used to carry toiletries (as long as these leave the country when the visitors do). Still, Tanzania aims to be plastic bag free, and it’s just one of 34 African nations fighting against single-use plastics with such bans.

Kenya’s efforts, initiated in 2017, have led to a “visibly cleaner” country, Parker writes: “Bags that once hung like windblown shrouds from tree branches are fewer in number, as are clumps of bags that clogged drainage systems and created breeding pools for malaria-bearing mosquitoes.”

In Kenya, the penalties for ignoring the ban are the world’s most punitive. Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and users found with plastic bags face up to $38,000 in fines or four years in prison. The ban has faced resistance, and enforcement is also a problem—it’s spotty, which means that plastic bags are still circulating despite the potential penalties. Still, in a country that once used about 100 million plastic bags a year, according to UN estimates, the reduction efforts are notable and seem to be effective.

Rwanda is aiming to be the world’s first plastic-free country, and its prohibitions appear to be working. The UN named the country’s capital, Kigali, the African continent’s cleanest city, thanks in part to a 2008 ban on non-biodegradable plastic.

In fact, the African continent is leading the world in plastic bag regulations. Notably, 31 of these bans have been passed in sub-Saharan Africa, the globe’s poorest region, as Laura Parker reported for National Geographic in April.

Several private companies are also catching up and supports these efforts. In Burundi there is no ban of plastic bags in place until next year, but even before that youth organisations and private companies have joined forces to clean the shores of Tanganyika Lake from plastic waste.

Gustave Niyongere, a young Burundian electrician, is engaged in the youth organisation cleaning the shores of Tanganyika from plastic waste. He is also an employee of Power One Burundi, a company building renewable energy. To solve the problem he engaged his company to help and today his youth organisation and the company he works at has joined forces in the cleaning efforts of Lake Tanganyika. This is an example among many. In Rwanda it has even become mandatory for companies to not only earn money, but to engage in the environmental struggle too.

This month, a UN environmental study concluded that plastic bag bans are working and are especially effective in African nations where waste is often burned. Indeed, about 40% of the world’s waste is burned, which causes toxic pollution. Burning plastics releases poisonous gases that threaten the health of vegetation, humans, and animals. “Burning of plastic waste increase the risk of heart disease, aggravates respiratory ailments such as asthma and emphysema and cause rashes, nausea or headaches and damages the nervous system,” the study notes.

Reducing plastic bag use then has two effects: It minimizes the creation of waste, much of which drifts and ends up in the world’s oceans, harming marine life, and it reduces the air pollution caused by burning single-use plastics.

African Hydrogen - The time is now

Establishing hydrogen economies and societies in Africa will provide tremendous social, economic and environmental benefits - all at the same time as it will grow to become perhaps the most profitable investment available today.

 

That’s the message from the African Hydrogen Partnership (AHP), a to be multi-stakeholder association that has recently unveiled an ambitious vision to transform Africa from a vast and largely underdeveloped continent, to a region at the forefront of clean technologies with a thriving hydrogen value chain.

The plans would see renewable hydrogen produced and consumed locally in Africa, meaning the continent would be able to reduce the import of fossil-based fuels and chemicals drastically. This would reduce dependency on the US dollar and help improve trade balances.

AHP proposes that the savings from this, and from reducing pollution, as well as socio-economic benefits, could be used to fund new hydrogen programmes.

Next to those savings, new financial instruments such as Green African Hydrogen Bond could be developed for providing efficient access to capital markets to raise funding for green hydrogen projects.

The first hydrogen economies would begin with the construction of large-scale power to gas (P2G) renewable energy facilities or hubs along important trans-African highways. These would also be built in ports, where hydrogen stations would provide fuel for long haul heavy goods vehicles, buses and trains, all powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

The same P2G stations would also provide green hydrogen for industrial processes and green chemicals, such as ammonia (for fertiliser), green methanol (polymers), steel manufacturing (reducing agent), glass production (protective gas) and electronics (protective & carrier gas).

These trans-African hydrogen routes would connect major mining centres that use heavy-duty hydrogen vehicles (such as forklifts, tugs and bulldozers).

The routes would also connect harbours, trade centres, metropolitan areas overland and near-shore islands with hydrogen-powered ferries.

In metropolitan areas where there’s severe pollution, lightweight and convertible hydrogen fuel cell business vehicles could provide sufficient reliable energy to run a small business during the day and to supply electricity to the owner’s home at night. These vehicles would make clean transport and power available and affordable for everyone.

In AHP’s vision for a hydrogen economy, the consumer transports green energy from large scale, independent renewable energy production facilities and from local mini-grids to wherever they need to consume the energy.

This is a new, revolutionary concept for Africa put forward by AHP’s co-founders Vincent Oldenbroek and Siegfried Huegemann that would remove Africa’s current dependency on the electricity grid for energy.

“Hydrogen technology has accomplished tremendous achievements over the last four years. Costs have come down, products have been scaled up and at the same time all the developments like renewable electricity have become really cheap. These developments together made us decide the timing is right and 2019 was the year to start this,” explains Oldenbroek to gasworld.

“However, with climate change happening all over the world, for example the extreme warm winters in Europe, you could say maybe we are already too late. With all these environmental challenges we are facing, there’s no better time than today,” adds Huegemann.

Finance ready for Climate Smart Agriculture in Africa

Climate change is impacting agricultural productivity in Africa. Smallholder farmers, who supply up to 80% of produce, are among the most vulnerable to its effects. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) can offer smallholders a way to better absorb climate shocks and sustainably increase productivity and income.

 

Public and private investments into agriculture has remained insufficient, due to high transaction costs and the risks associated with the sector. Coupled with unaffordable financial services and lack of information, the high upfront costs of implementing CSA practices limit the ability of smallholder farmers in West Africa to adopt CSA practices. WAICSA therefore builds climate resilience among smallholder farmers, by providing financial and technical support to incentivize the adoption of climate-smart agriculture, and increasing local financial institutions’ capacity for climate-smart lending. At scale, WAICSA can improve the food security of 90,000 smallholder farming households in West Africa, and mitigate emissions equivalent to over 4 billion miles of driving.

The West African Initiative for Climate-Smart Agriculture (WAICSA) is the only West African led finance fund with a specific focus on increasing the uptake of climate-smart agriculture practices by smallholder farmers. By mobilizing public and concessional capital, WAICSA is able to provide subsidized interest rate loans to smallholders’ organizations and agribusinesses of ticket size below US$ 1 million, thus making credit more accessible. WAICSA also builds the capacity of local financial institutions to design loan products with CSA adoption conditions, helping bring additional resources to this sector. In addition, technical guidance on CSA implementation is provided to bridge the knowledge gap and further support smallholders to adopt these practices and comply with loan conditions.

An initiative led by the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), WAICSA will target six of the 15 ECOWAS member states in its pilot phase, with the objective of being replicated in all 15 states after the concept is proven. At scale, WAICSA has the potential to improve the food security of 90,000 smallholder farming households in the region and convert over 185,000 hectares to climate-smart agriculture. The fund can also contribute to mitigating up to 2 million tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, which is equivalent to over 4 billion miles of driving.

WAICSA is composed of a Financing Facility, managed by the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID), and a Technical Assistance Facility, managed by the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF).

The Financing Facility offers subsidized-rate loans, guarantees, and equity investments to agricultural businesses and smallholder organizations, both directly and through local financial institutions. It uses guarantees and blended finance, including contributions from ECOWAS Member States and investments from the fund manager, to de-risk and crowd-in private investments. Embedded into WAICSA’s financial products are conditions meant to incentivize the adoption of CSA by smallholders, thus reducing their exposure to climate risk.

The Technical Assistance Facility supports financial intermediaries to design loan products that integrate CSA conditionality and guides smallholders in implementing locally adapted CSA practices. In this way, the Technical Assistance Facility further de-risks investments, ensuring favourable conditions for repayment of loans by providing support for CSA practices that offer improved productivity and income.

Africa is Ripe for Investments

At the 'G20 Compact with Africa' Investment Summit held in Berlin on Tuesday the Rwandan President Paul Kagame made the case for Africa's business environment, saying the continent is ripe for investments from the European Union.

G20 Compact with Africa is an initiative launched in 2017 to promote private investments in Africa and currently, 12 African countries - including Rwanda have joined it.

Kagame commended Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel's leadership in prioritizing investment from the German business community and highlighted an example of Rwanda's partnership with Germany companies like Volkswagen and Siemens, saying that it "demonstrates the competitiveness of our economies and the reforms that have been happening in the ease of doing business."

According to figures from Rwanda Development Board (RDB), German business interests in Rwanda have been expanding over the past few years.

"This really showcases how Africa is ripe for business and investment, and how far we can go," he told participants, where heads of state and business communities had gathered.

Besides Rwanda, other African countries that are part of the partnership are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

Thomas Schaefer, the Chairman and the Managing Director of Volkswagen South Africa told business executives present especially those from Germany that the continent was particularly ready for investments in the automotive industry where his group is already invested.

He pointed out that the continent was faced by challenges of dumping of used cars and extraordinary importation of fuel, saying businesses could tap into that to address challenges.

VW presently assembles cars in Rwanda, which started back in 2016.

"In the next move, we are going into electric mobility because there is no way a country like Rwanda can continue to import fuel. We believe Rwanda can go carbon neutral," he noted.

Last month, VW unveiled an electric mobility project in Rwanda which serves as a pilot for the company's future decisions of electric mobility in the continent.

The company now uses electric-powered versions of its Golf hatchback cars for a ride-sharing service.

While Foreign Direct Investments has decreased globally, Africa continues has seen an increase nearly 11 per cent valued at USD46 billion, according to available statistics of 2018.

Stronghold for Power One in East Africa

Earlier this year Power One was offered to electrify a university in Amhara in Ethiopia. Now five more Ethiopian universities also wish to be electrified by Power One.

 

Power One is specialised in electrifying formerly non electrified areas with renewable energy. The area of operation is established in East Africa but is growing. Apart from electrifying remote areas in Burundi and eastern Congo the company was earlier this year asked to supply one university in Ethiopia with 50 MW renewable energy. Now five other Ethiopian universities also wish to be electrified by Power One.

Power One´s mini-grid projects will bring much needed renewable energy resource to hundreds of thousands university students, professors and staff at major universities. These universities are located in cities with strong economic activities and expanding industrial parks.

Located in East Africa and just north of the Equator, Ethiopia is a country endowed with an ideal level of solar irradiation for the development of solar energy. Presently Ethiopia has approximately 4,300 MW of installed generation capacity which is short of the demand to serve a population of over 100 million people. However, the demand for electric power continues to outpace supply as Ethiopia’s hydropower plants, supplying more than 90 percent of the electricity, struggle to produce at full capacity. The country's solar radiation has therefore the potential to generate thousands of megawatts of renewable energy.

Power One now aims to develop a replicable platform under which five additional major public universities in Ethiopia can develop similar solar-based mini-grids that are scalable to meet rising demand.

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