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Time to invest in Africa

The African continent is about to seize every available opportunity to attract investments, according to the second edition of Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, hosted by the African Development Bank. The summit is one of Africa's premier investment conference and brings together pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, private investors, policymakers, private equity firms, and heads of government.

Highlighting how Rwanda was working to improve the investment ecosystem, President Kagame recounted multiple initiatives ranging from policy initiatives such as ensuring predictable governance, ensuring rule of law, guaranteeing security to investment support such as hubs, innovation fund among others.

"We have concentrated on creating a good environment for people to do business, a predictable governance system, security, in a region of East African Community that is probably the fastest growing region on our continent and Rwanda being part of and benefiting from that," he said.

The President was speaking alongside South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, and Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosário of Mozambique on a panel discussion on Investing in Africa.

"Let's do what we know we have to do, let's involve our women, see more numbers of women becoming CEOs because they are many who are capable, we should not leave our women behind, that's what we have tried to address. We know we should have transparent, accountable systems of government, we have to create rule of law in our environment for people to expect certain things to happen and that's what happens. I cannot give advice that anyone doesn't know in this room, everyone knows what we are talking about. Let's just do it," he added responding to a participant who asked for advice on how to increase investment in Africa." Kagame said.

He challenged leaders and stakeholders from across the continent to seize every available opportunity to get towards where the continent ought to be.

"It is not just knowing what you ought to do or being capable of it, it is about actually doing it," Kagame said.

 

South Korea to build three cities powered by hydrogen before 2022

South Korea is trying to win the race to create the first hydrogen-powered society. It wants to build three hydrogen-powered cities by 2022 as it positions itself as a leader in the green technology. The plan will see the cities use hydrogen as the fuel for cooling, heating, electricity and transportation. Consultation on where the three cities will be located is under way.

The test cities will use a hydrogen-powered transportation system, including buses and personal cars. Hydrogen charging stations will be available in bus stations and parking spaces. The strategy is part of a wider vision to power 10% of the country's cities, counties and towns by hydrogen by 2030, growing to 30% by 2040.

This includes drastic increases in the numbers of hydrogen-powered vehicles and charging points in the next three years. The government has earmarked money to subsidize these vehicles and charging infrastructure.

Countries including Germany, Japan and China are also looking to a future hydrogen society, with a number of Asian car manufacturers including Hyundai, Toyota and Honda sinking resources into creating a range of hydrogen powered cars.

With fuel cell vehicles – or FCVs – generally offering greater range and faster refueling times than electric vehicles, there is great hope that they will accelerate the transition to cleaner vehicles.

But challenges remain with the technology. Although some FCVs are now on the market, for many the cost remains prohibitive and they have some way to go before they become mainstream.

The output from hydrogen-powered cars is only water as a by-product. Producing the hydrogen itself is an energy-intensive process though, but as long as the production is powered by renewable sources the system is completely clean.

West Africa taking back control of its currency from France

Since 1945, the CFA franc has been the currency used by French colonies, and the usage of the currency continued after independence. President Patrice Talon of Benin revealed that the West African Monetary Union has unanimously agreed to take back control of its currency, withdrawing foreign reserves of the West African CFA from France. The move has been welcomed across the continent.

Benin Republic’s President Patrice Talon announced that the West African Monetary Union wanted to take back control of its currency. A unanimous agreement was reached by the eight African countries – whose foreign reserves are kept in France – to pull the reserves of their CFA franc from France. The countries which include Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Niger and Guinea Bissau all use the French regulated francs.

The Franc which is used by 155 million people on the continent across 14 African countries is one of the colonial relics in many French colonised countries. This is the first time that a president has announced the withdrawal of the West African CFA Franc from France.

President Talon said, “we now unanimously agree that this model needs to end. The Central Bank of the West African Monetary Union will manage all of the currency reserves and will dispatch them to the different partner central banks across the world.”

The CFA franc was created in 1945 after the 1944 Brettons Wood Agreement which saw the world usher in a new global monetary system with the U.S dollar replacing the gold standard. The Brettons Wood agreement cemented America’s dominance as a world economic power. The CFA franc is tied to the Euro, and follows the fluctuation of the Euro. The creation of Eco, the newly proposed West African currency designed to replace the CFA franc by 2020 led to an official separation with the Euro.

A cheap and pollution free electric car battery that takes you 1,500 miles without recharging

Trevor Jackson, the British engineer and former Royal Navy officer, has developed an inexpensive, lightweight battery, nine times more capacious than lithium-ion, made from affordable aluminum and with such a safe electrolyte that can be drunk.

Moreover, it is simpler and cheaper to make, as well as easier to recycle than conventional batteries currently used. The battery can reportedly sustain 1,500 miles of driving before needing to be charged.

It took almost 18 years of development and the investment of several million euros to start producing this large-scale battery. Austin Electric, an engineering firm based in Essex, will begin next year to integrate them into thousands of electric vehicles.

In 2001, Jackson began investigating the potential of a technology first developed in the 1960s. Researchers had discovered that dipping aluminum in an electrolyte stimulated a reaction between the metal and the oxygen that produced electricity. They were, in other words, batteries of the future. At the time, the method was not sustainable because it required 100% pure aluminum, and the electrolyte used was extremely toxic and caustic.

After years of trials and experiments, Jackson found a new formula of electrolyte capable of operating even with less valuable aluminum (including recycled drinks cans), and moreover, neither caustic nor polluting.

“I’ve drunk it when demonstrating it to investors, so I can attest to the fact that it’s harmless,” Jackson says. The formula, which is top secret, is the key to his invention.

Today, the automotive industry that aims at electric cars has invested heavily in lithium-ion battery technology. Yes, there are improvements in efficiency and recharge times, but recycling to recover lithium and cobalt is very expensive.

Technically, Jackson’s invention is more correctly called a fuel cell, not a battery. The device has turned out so light and powerful that it is able to revolutionize carbon-free transport. Once an aluminum-air battery has been used up, it can be recycled very cheaply, he says.

The tests already carried out say that with the same weight, Jackson’s fuel cells produce nine times the energy of lithium-ion batteries. If you put it on the Tesla Model S, then the range of the electric car will increase from 600 km (370 miles) to 4300 km (2,700 miles) with an equal weight of batteries, and with an equal size – up to 2400 km (1,500 miles). A quick swap of battery (only 90 seconds) will eliminate many hours of recharging.

Now, Austin will start producing aluminum-air batteries according to Jackson’s recipe – first for tuk-tuks, three-wheeled Asian taxis, then for electric bicycles and, finally, kits for converting ordinary gas or diesel cars into electric ones.

In Tesla, Jackson says, the battery costs about £30,000. An aluminum-air fuel cell that would power the same car for longer would cost just £5,000, Daily Mail reported.

Renewable energy in Africa can lead the way

The IEA, or International Energy Agency, predicts that solar energy will play a big role in supporting the continent’s growing population and industrialisation over the next 20 years. Africa should be leading the way into the future using renewable energy sources to power production, says an IEA report predicting a solar boom in countries across the continent, which could give hundreds of millions of homes electricity for the first time.

Africa’s population is expected to grow to more than 2 billion people by 2040, a rise of 800 million from today or the population equivalent of the US and Europe combined, says the report. People are expected to turn to cities and towns at a rate never seen before, where the demand for new houses and infrastructure will ignite an energy-hungry industrial revolution.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said Africa had a “unique opportunity” to leapfrog the fossil fuel dependency of other industrialised regions.

“I am optimistic about Africa’s energy future – it will surprise pessimists,” Birol said. “I have great expectations for the energy industry in the years to come, both in terms of bringing energy access to Africa’s people but also driving economic growth.”

He urged Africa’s leaders to take advantage of the natural resources available through solar power generation, and the mining of raw minerals needed to make electric and hydrogen batteries, which are in high demand across the world.

Birol said: “Africa’s total contribution to cumulative global emissions from energy over the last 100 years is only 2%, which is half the emissions of Germany today. If everyone in Africa had access to energy this 2% will rise to just 3% – it’s still nothing. It’s peanuts compared to other countries in the world which are using fossil fuels such as coal for energy.

“But while Africa does not contribute to climate change the continent is on the frontline of its potential effects, including droughts. Africa is perhaps the most innocent continent in terms of its contributions to climate change, but they will be the victims.”

 

Read the report

Global investors choose sustainable farming, clean energy and green cities in Africa

The Global Innovation Lab for Climate Finance, a group of more than 60 major investors, banks, foundations, and governments, has announced the launch of six inter-related climate finance initiatives aimed at raising billions of dollars to support clean energy, sustainable agriculture, and low carbon cities in developing countries. The Lab has mobilised nearly $2bn for climate action and sustainable development since its creation in 2014

The six new financial instruments target four key focus areas relating to climate mitigation and adaptation, marine and coastal restoration for carbon sequestration, sustainable smallholder farming in Africa, renewable energy access in Rwanda, and low carbon cooling and air pollution projects in cities.

The new instruments endorsed by the Lab show great potential to open up new markets and opportunities for effective and ambitious action on climate change.

Supported projects include the Restoration Insurance Service Company, a social enterprise that invests in mangrove restoration and conservation in areas with high-value coastal assets, and the Blockchain Climate Risk Crop Insurance platform to boost climate resilience of crops and farmers in West and Central Africa.

Others such as Cooling as a Service, which aims to decrease energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from cooling use in cities through a pay-per-service model for more efficient air conditioning, and Solar Securitization for Rwanda, a tradable security designed to help solar developers increase access to expansion capital, have also been announced.

Power One AB consider hydrogen in Burundi

 

Power One´s concept combines wind, water and sun as sources of energy production. This reduces the need for expensive storage. Power One plans to use electrolyte storage, but will also set aside part of the solar park to operate a hydrogen gas production plant, which can be used, among other things, to operate boats. Since Tanganyika Lake is still clean and crystal clear, the electric propulsion of boats is an obvious complement for preserving it undisturbed. At present, there are a number of vessels operating on oil, which are used but have not so far done too much damage. Hydrogen has the advantage of being considerably cheaper as a fuel then fossil fuel, and is therefore an irresistible substitute from all points of view.

 

Hydrogen can be used for electrically driven transport on both land and water. During manufacture, water is divided into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen gas is collected in tubes and then transformed into electricity via a so-called power cell. With a hydrogen tube, a power cell and an electric motor, many electric vehicles are operated today, ranging from mopeds, cars and trucks to boats. It is a durable and well-proven technology whose only residual product is oxygen and water. Oxygen is used in everything from healthcare to welding and is an import commodity in Burundi. Both oxygen and hydrogen can therefore be sold with good profits for Power One.

 

 

Hydrogen is a well-known and reliable energy storage system that has been used in industry for almost a century. The technique is simple: DC voltage produced during the day from solar panels is used in an electrolyser to separate water (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O). The non-polluting oxygen is released and the hydrogen is stored under pressure into simple and durable containers. At night, when the sun is on the other side, hydrogen is led into a power cell that melts hydrogen with oxygen from the air back into water. Through this process, energy from daylight is restored back to electricity and used for night consumption.

 

If the solar park produces more energy under daylight than is consumed during the day and at night, the excess can be used to produce hydrogen for other applications, e.g. transport on the lake. In this case, hydrogen is transferred to gas tubes in the boats and then converted back to electricity via a fuel cell. This then provides electricity to the electric motor in the boat.

 

This is a very simple, well tested and durable system. With a simple pressure tank, a fuel cell and an electric motor, hydrogen can be used to operate all transport, including air, and today most of the major car manufacturers have developed hydrogen cars. The conversion of the region's boats to hydrogen operation is quite simple and plans are underway to start a rebuilding yard in Kabonga fishing port for this.

 

- By introducing an environmentally smart and emission-free boat traffic on Lake Tanganyika, Burundi will also market itself in quality tourism and offer an ecological alternative to other countries, says Janvier Nsengiumva, Commercial chief Port of Bujumbura.

Power One invests in smart hydro

Hydropower is a renewable source of electricity, but in traditional form it not only destroys entire valleys for its reservoirs, it also destroys natural biodiversity. But that is how it used to be. Today it is also an ecologically sustainable source. With today's so-called smart hydroelectric plants, no valleys are submerged. Biodiversity is not destroyed by these either. Power One has therefore decided to utilize the hydropower in the small river that flows through Kabonga. It is a small river, but with a constant flow even during the dry season, and is well suited for smart hydropower.

What is the difference between traditional and smart hydropower?

Last century was the century of large scale. At that time, almost all hydropower was built with dams and turbines. The dams were used to even out production during the year. However, these dams have placed large areas of forest land under water, while at the same time they have become obstacles to fish migrations. Not only the forests in the valley above the dam but also the biodiversity of the river were affected. Fish cannot get up or down alive through a turbine, and as many species of fish multiply in special places, to where they must move, entire species have also disappeared from river systems.

The smart hydropower does not use dams. By removing these, the disadvantages of hydropower are avoided, but at the same time, of course, its purpose disappears, to level out the seasonal changes of hydroelectric power. When using smart hydropower instead this has to be compensated by combining power sources that have different seasonal cycles, like wind and solar. In this way, both the costly and environmentally damaging dam plant is avoided. Instead, freedom is gained from using small and inexpensive systems that are also scalable. Instead of a single large plant, the fall height can be utilized in several places. Today thereare plenty of different varieties of smart hydro adapted to different conditions. Power One in Kabonga will therefore use different smart hydro in different parts of the river.An example of a smart hydro that does not affect biodiversity is the Dutch Turbulent. A Turbulent smart hydro costs between $ 80,000 to $ 300,000, but it generates approximately the same revenue in three year under favorable conditions. The water flow in the small river in Kabonga is at least 1 m2 per second, year-round. This is suitable for the smaller turbulent power plants, which are located at about 55 kW. To calculate the power economically, you multiply the installed power by 7500 and by the price per kilowatt. For a 55kW power plant in Kabonga, the calculation is 55 kW x 7,500 x 0.24 USD, which gives an annual revenue of $ 100,000 for an investment of $ 300,000. The fall height of the small river in Kabonga is just over two hundred meters, and since each power plant does not require more than a maximum height of 4 meters, the river can accommodate a large number of these, without negative impact on the river's fish and fauna. However, there are more models of smart hydro that are suitable for different conditions.

 

A design of smart hydropower requires many factors, including flow, altitude, geology and biology. Power One's Peter Rinaldo gives in the following filmed reportage a picture of how the initial design work in Power One goes.

Please turn on subtitles in the browser for English.

Prominent Business Leaders Join Dubai Chamber’s Global Business Forum (GBF) Mentorship Programme

Business leaders from the UAE and Africa to mentor high-potential startups as they build their businesses and target new market opportunities; announcement comes ahead of the 5th Global Business Forum on Africa, taking place on November 18th-19th 2019 in Dubai; first-of-its-kind mentorship programme aims to foster cross-border cooperation between UAE and African startup communities

Source: thefintechtimes

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