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  • 08 Jun 2016
    Who said environment is all things around us? Well, dating back to primary school days, teachers used to stress it like that; but does it include “us”- I mean if it’s all things around us, are we part of it or it’s part of us? What happens if people choose to focus on improving their economic status without considering anything around them, does it matter? At least we all know what has ensued in most of those countries that have done their “thing” without the chains of environmental sustainability- examples include European countries, China and the rest. One common feature on these countries is development which is a long distance away from Africa. Is Africa special, like one of those last-borns who have to be treated in some exceptional way regardless of whether it impedes their ability to learn by themselves? This and more was discussed in the second PAUWES debate held at the institute as we take the lead in building future African leaders.How it happenedAfter opening remarks by the head of subject matter team Mr. Andrew Mugumya, the debate was presided over by Ms. Eva Kimonye. The first speaker from proposers Mr. George Kimboowa took the stage. He started by defining sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without hindering the future. He pointed out that sustainability can be viewed in 2 different angles, i.e. ecological point of view and raw material supply. “No one is against economic growth but rather we have to handle it with care”. He acknowledged the fact that economic development is important but it feeds on the environment like a baby and mother. So, to ensure unlimited resource use, environmental sustainability should be put in the light first. He edified the audience about the advantages that come along with proper handling of the environment and how its negligence will drive this beautiful world to doom. He critiqued the research writings of Kenneth Arrow- 1998 that seemingly enforce the sense of “pollute first, clean up later”. “There is no clear evidence that emission levels will fall after countries become richer, generally it’s not clear how the reverse of the effects can be achieved”, he asserted. In a declining voice he called for a first place consideration of environmental sustainability before economic growth - submitted and left the floor. The second speaker, Mr. Martin Lyambai took the stage, he started by defining the environment as the air we breathe. He criticized the world order of consuming more in the name of becoming rich as this leads to depletion of resources and the repercussions are rather intolerable. He gave a case of deforestation happening in the world today, “Over 2 million acres every year are cleared! Look people, the carbon sink is going” he attested. Lake Chad is no more because the people prioritized economic development over the environment. He pointed out how it’s harder than the most expensive diamond today to find people fetching water from wells and rivers, yet it used to be the case some years back. He blamed all this to the copious pollution that has rendered well waters unclean for consumption. He went ahead to point out how the future is important and for that matter it’s imperative that environment sustainability should be at the fore front. A case for Canada selling breathing air to China was pointed out as one of the aftermaths of neglecting the environment to the expense of economic growth. Criticizing the scientific argument of recreating the environment, he added his voice to the believers that such is not possible. He pointed out the Kenya case of nuclear power development, alleging that this is not a sustainable solution to solve energy problems in this beautiful country because the risks are high! Giving an example of Chernobyl and other parts of the world where the effects of nuclear live on still up to date. “Environment has a long term economic growth but it’s worth it, if we don’t realize this, we’re going to cause more challenges for this beautiful planet” he stated. Flooding due to hydropower dams are some of the problems of fronting economic growth. He pointed out how the world is running out of very many precious plant species that would provide healing for the ever developing diseases. Opposers The first speaker from the opposers, Mr. Rolex Muceka- in his opening remarks, “For Africa economic growth should be paramount more than environmental sustainability”. “Look at the people in Africa! Dying of curable diseases because of lack of good hospitals to handle such cases.” Underscoring Tanzania as one of the countries where environment is considered first, he highlighted that people lack land for farming because the fertile soils are preserved. He asserted that a focus on the African scenarios makes it clear that there is a paradox; people are dying because of poverty, poor standards of living, insufficient food supply and many other related issues because the arable land that could be utilized for agriculture is being preserved in the name of environmental sustainability. He posed questions to the audience whose answers no one was ready to give. Is human life less important than the environment? What happened to the coined statements of “environment is everything around us”? If humans are part of the environment why are they left to perish in the name of environmental sustainability? He went ahead to point out economic statistics about Africa, “Three quarters of the people in Africa are poor, they live under 9$ earnings per month yet the continent is among the richest - endowed with significant quantities of resources”. Africa has the lowest GDP with a GDP that is less than that of china as a country! - humbling facts!In his concluding statements, he made it crystal clear that before one starts talking about environmental sustainability, there is a need to recognize that empowerment of economic growth is very crucial for Africa’s case. With 83% unemployment rates, you can’t start singing a boring song about how sweet the environment is. There is a need to focus on what we have and exploit our resources to the fullest. He submitted and left the floor for next speaker Mr. Cuthbert Taguta.He started by decrying the economies of African countries that are mainly characterized by accumulating debts, problems of trade balance and overdependence. He stressed that African countries are being used as ponies in a big game because borrowed money comes with leverages and costs. In his view, Africa should shift her focus to resource exploitation. “Taking a case of developed countries, none of them made it through borrowing, why should Africa take another route we’re not certain of? “, he said. The abundance of resources in Africa, water, minerals and the rest, should we live it to perish because the environment is more important than dying and starving people! Truth is we’re losing much by not exploiting our resources- we really need that money. If people are part of the environment as it’s claimed then you should take care of them first through economic growth.Who should determine the level of environmental sustainability for Africa? We should come up with our own set of rules. According to UN, some of the things that have kept Africa in abject poverty is not utilizing the resources they have. No one is against economic development but there ought to be an approach that caters for environment as well as economic growth. Proper planning is the issue here. He submitted and left the floor. Reaction from AudienceAmong the speakers from the audience, there was one who doesn’t mince words! He rejected the whole idea of environmental sustainability referring to it as a fallacy that was started by a famous Canadian Maurice Strong. He stressed that Maurice strong started spreading the gospel of environmental sustainability after he realized his retirement time had come yet he didn’t have enough in his pocket. He went ahead to clarify that no country has developed among the path everyone is talking about (environment first). Who would want to take a path that has never been taken by anyone? I am sure not many but there is. What is the cost of the environment? What is the cost of human life? Tough questions to answer!From the audience still, one speaker gave a case of a poor man dying because of lack of medication; you want to tell me that it’s ok for that man to die yet he has trees he could probably cut and sell for firewood. Africa is hungry! Should we stop exploiting the rivers we have? Ofcourse not!!In conclusion,The fact is, economic growth and environmental sustainability are both important and for proper performance of countries, it’s important that a holistic approach that handles both is devised for the point that none of them can exist in isolation without problems. For this we should not put a price tag on the environment instead we need policy makers and proper leaders to incorporate economic growth and environmental sustainability. As the editorial team, we take this opportunity to thank the entire students’ body and the different COP teams for making this debate happen. @Editorial_team
    730 Posted by Tonny Kukeera
  • Who said environment is all things around us? Well, dating back to primary school days, teachers used to stress it like that; but does it include “us”- I mean if it’s all things around us, are we part of it or it’s part of us? What happens if people choose to focus on improving their economic status without considering anything around them, does it matter? At least we all know what has ensued in most of those countries that have done their “thing” without the chains of environmental sustainability- examples include European countries, China and the rest. One common feature on these countries is development which is a long distance away from Africa. Is Africa special, like one of those last-borns who have to be treated in some exceptional way regardless of whether it impedes their ability to learn by themselves? This and more was discussed in the second PAUWES debate held at the institute as we take the lead in building future African leaders.How it happenedAfter opening remarks by the head of subject matter team Mr. Andrew Mugumya, the debate was presided over by Ms. Eva Kimonye. The first speaker from proposers Mr. George Kimboowa took the stage. He started by defining sustainability as meeting the needs of the present without hindering the future. He pointed out that sustainability can be viewed in 2 different angles, i.e. ecological point of view and raw material supply. “No one is against economic growth but rather we have to handle it with care”. He acknowledged the fact that economic development is important but it feeds on the environment like a baby and mother. So, to ensure unlimited resource use, environmental sustainability should be put in the light first. He edified the audience about the advantages that come along with proper handling of the environment and how its negligence will drive this beautiful world to doom. He critiqued the research writings of Kenneth Arrow- 1998 that seemingly enforce the sense of “pollute first, clean up later”. “There is no clear evidence that emission levels will fall after countries become richer, generally it’s not clear how the reverse of the effects can be achieved”, he asserted. In a declining voice he called for a first place consideration of environmental sustainability before economic growth - submitted and left the floor. The second speaker, Mr. Martin Lyambai took the stage, he started by defining the environment as the air we breathe. He criticized the world order of consuming more in the name of becoming rich as this leads to depletion of resources and the repercussions are rather intolerable. He gave a case of deforestation happening in the world today, “Over 2 million acres every year are cleared! Look people, the carbon sink is going” he attested. Lake Chad is no more because the people prioritized economic development over the environment. He pointed out how it’s harder than the most expensive diamond today to find people fetching water from wells and rivers, yet it used to be the case some years back. He blamed all this to the copious pollution that has rendered well waters unclean for consumption. He went ahead to point out how the future is important and for that matter it’s imperative that environment sustainability should be at the fore front. A case for Canada selling breathing air to China was pointed out as one of the aftermaths of neglecting the environment to the expense of economic growth. Criticizing the scientific argument of recreating the environment, he added his voice to the believers that such is not possible. He pointed out the Kenya case of nuclear power development, alleging that this is not a sustainable solution to solve energy problems in this beautiful country because the risks are high! Giving an example of Chernobyl and other parts of the world where the effects of nuclear live on still up to date. “Environment has a long term economic growth but it’s worth it, if we don’t realize this, we’re going to cause more challenges for this beautiful planet” he stated. Flooding due to hydropower dams are some of the problems of fronting economic growth. He pointed out how the world is running out of very many precious plant species that would provide healing for the ever developing diseases. Opposers The first speaker from the opposers, Mr. Rolex Muceka- in his opening remarks, “For Africa economic growth should be paramount more than environmental sustainability”. “Look at the people in Africa! Dying of curable diseases because of lack of good hospitals to handle such cases.” Underscoring Tanzania as one of the countries where environment is considered first, he highlighted that people lack land for farming because the fertile soils are preserved. He asserted that a focus on the African scenarios makes it clear that there is a paradox; people are dying because of poverty, poor standards of living, insufficient food supply and many other related issues because the arable land that could be utilized for agriculture is being preserved in the name of environmental sustainability. He posed questions to the audience whose answers no one was ready to give. Is human life less important than the environment? What happened to the coined statements of “environment is everything around us”? If humans are part of the environment why are they left to perish in the name of environmental sustainability? He went ahead to point out economic statistics about Africa, “Three quarters of the people in Africa are poor, they live under 9$ earnings per month yet the continent is among the richest - endowed with significant quantities of resources”. Africa has the lowest GDP with a GDP that is less than that of china as a country! - humbling facts!In his concluding statements, he made it crystal clear that before one starts talking about environmental sustainability, there is a need to recognize that empowerment of economic growth is very crucial for Africa’s case. With 83% unemployment rates, you can’t start singing a boring song about how sweet the environment is. There is a need to focus on what we have and exploit our resources to the fullest. He submitted and left the floor for next speaker Mr. Cuthbert Taguta.He started by decrying the economies of African countries that are mainly characterized by accumulating debts, problems of trade balance and overdependence. He stressed that African countries are being used as ponies in a big game because borrowed money comes with leverages and costs. In his view, Africa should shift her focus to resource exploitation. “Taking a case of developed countries, none of them made it through borrowing, why should Africa take another route we’re not certain of? “, he said. The abundance of resources in Africa, water, minerals and the rest, should we live it to perish because the environment is more important than dying and starving people! Truth is we’re losing much by not exploiting our resources- we really need that money. If people are part of the environment as it’s claimed then you should take care of them first through economic growth.Who should determine the level of environmental sustainability for Africa? We should come up with our own set of rules. According to UN, some of the things that have kept Africa in abject poverty is not utilizing the resources they have. No one is against economic development but there ought to be an approach that caters for environment as well as economic growth. Proper planning is the issue here. He submitted and left the floor. Reaction from AudienceAmong the speakers from the audience, there was one who doesn’t mince words! He rejected the whole idea of environmental sustainability referring to it as a fallacy that was started by a famous Canadian Maurice Strong. He stressed that Maurice strong started spreading the gospel of environmental sustainability after he realized his retirement time had come yet he didn’t have enough in his pocket. He went ahead to clarify that no country has developed among the path everyone is talking about (environment first). Who would want to take a path that has never been taken by anyone? I am sure not many but there is. What is the cost of the environment? What is the cost of human life? Tough questions to answer!From the audience still, one speaker gave a case of a poor man dying because of lack of medication; you want to tell me that it’s ok for that man to die yet he has trees he could probably cut and sell for firewood. Africa is hungry! Should we stop exploiting the rivers we have? Ofcourse not!!In conclusion,The fact is, economic growth and environmental sustainability are both important and for proper performance of countries, it’s important that a holistic approach that handles both is devised for the point that none of them can exist in isolation without problems. For this we should not put a price tag on the environment instead we need policy makers and proper leaders to incorporate economic growth and environmental sustainability. As the editorial team, we take this opportunity to thank the entire students’ body and the different COP teams for making this debate happen. @Editorial_team
    Jun 08, 2016 730
  • 04 Apr 2016
    A question was recently posed to all of us, how did we come to hear about PAUWES and what are we planning to do after graduation next year. As you can imagine the answers were as valid as the number we are. I believe that when we all received the email offering us a place at the institute we weighed our options before committing to accept the offer. I was working for an engineering firm before I joined PAUWES and as much as I loved my line of work in the environmental and social field I was ready for change and here I am. Months later I am glad I made that decision because I have seen my areas of interest take shape in ways I never imagined before. I can clearly see myself working with communities in empowering women and men in adapting and mitigating impacts of climate change which will only come from creation of awareness and capacity building and involvement of all stakeholders in policy formulation in regards to resource use and exploitation.   I am not here to patronize anyone. We all had different expectations when we said yes to that offer back in July last year and I will be the first to admit that some of my expectations have not been met but others have been met beyond what was offered. One of the things I can credit the institute for is the creation of networking opportunities for all students. In March this year we had a symposium on renewable energy that saw researchers from Africa and Europe come together and spend almost a week in Tlemcen. The icing on the cake is all of us were in one way or another involved in the planning and coordinating the symposium activities. Fast forward in late March and we travelled to Germany where we were not only able to interact with experts in our relevant fields but with students who have been successful in doing research and for some coming up with new inventions. The willingness for them to help or refer us to someone who could offer a better perspective was humbling and appreciated.   So where am I going with all of this? I have heard the question time and again about where our fate lies once we graduate next year. I recognize that the uncertain future is a cause for worry for some of us and I know the job market is very competitive and sometimes all you need is someone to give you a push or put in a good word for you. What I do not agree with is our approach to the above. We cannot continue to complain about the opportunities that are not available while we are not using the ones provided. I want to pose a question to all of us, how many of us approached the professors and students during the symposium and in Germany seeking to create new networks and connections? How many of us approached someone and they said no to your request without giving you an alternative? Some may argue that not all of us are able to approach new people and strike a conversation but we also have to be willing to step into unfamiliar waters and take risks. It is nerve wrecking for the first time but I promise it gets easier.   When we signed the contract no one promised to offer us a job after graduation, I doubt any scholarship program promises that anywhere else in the world. What we have instead is a safe environment to connect and interact with experts from different fields and a chance to build our confidence level without the pressure of getting it right the first time. I look at networking as a reward point system, where every connection made is a point gained and you can redeem later on in life. We have the Community of Practice (CoP) that allows follow up and chances to show case our abilities outside the classroom environment as individuals or in our respective groups. Soon enough different companies data base will be uploaded and new opportunities will arise. More professors and experts will join and the community will grow. You have the liberty to invite someone to CoP if you feel that their expertise could be of help to you as an individual or others. If you identify a connection worth exploring and you have no idea how to approach them you can ask for help, there is always someone willing to give a hand. The possibilities are endless but we have to make that first step or we will never realize how many people are willing to walk with us. What saddens me is that we have not realized the opportunities provided to us or have not been willing to invest time to exploit them fully. We have not taken time to upload our resume or at the very least a profile picture or write to a new connection and clearly articulate our areas of interest and the kind of push we need. In my opinion the field is set and we only have to be willing to play in it. It would be sad if after two years we looked back at our time here with regret, 24 months is way too much time to spend pointing out what has not been given to you. If you think life gave you lemons the minute you stepped in PAUWES please make some lemonade summer is coming!
    1402 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • A question was recently posed to all of us, how did we come to hear about PAUWES and what are we planning to do after graduation next year. As you can imagine the answers were as valid as the number we are. I believe that when we all received the email offering us a place at the institute we weighed our options before committing to accept the offer. I was working for an engineering firm before I joined PAUWES and as much as I loved my line of work in the environmental and social field I was ready for change and here I am. Months later I am glad I made that decision because I have seen my areas of interest take shape in ways I never imagined before. I can clearly see myself working with communities in empowering women and men in adapting and mitigating impacts of climate change which will only come from creation of awareness and capacity building and involvement of all stakeholders in policy formulation in regards to resource use and exploitation.   I am not here to patronize anyone. We all had different expectations when we said yes to that offer back in July last year and I will be the first to admit that some of my expectations have not been met but others have been met beyond what was offered. One of the things I can credit the institute for is the creation of networking opportunities for all students. In March this year we had a symposium on renewable energy that saw researchers from Africa and Europe come together and spend almost a week in Tlemcen. The icing on the cake is all of us were in one way or another involved in the planning and coordinating the symposium activities. Fast forward in late March and we travelled to Germany where we were not only able to interact with experts in our relevant fields but with students who have been successful in doing research and for some coming up with new inventions. The willingness for them to help or refer us to someone who could offer a better perspective was humbling and appreciated.   So where am I going with all of this? I have heard the question time and again about where our fate lies once we graduate next year. I recognize that the uncertain future is a cause for worry for some of us and I know the job market is very competitive and sometimes all you need is someone to give you a push or put in a good word for you. What I do not agree with is our approach to the above. We cannot continue to complain about the opportunities that are not available while we are not using the ones provided. I want to pose a question to all of us, how many of us approached the professors and students during the symposium and in Germany seeking to create new networks and connections? How many of us approached someone and they said no to your request without giving you an alternative? Some may argue that not all of us are able to approach new people and strike a conversation but we also have to be willing to step into unfamiliar waters and take risks. It is nerve wrecking for the first time but I promise it gets easier.   When we signed the contract no one promised to offer us a job after graduation, I doubt any scholarship program promises that anywhere else in the world. What we have instead is a safe environment to connect and interact with experts from different fields and a chance to build our confidence level without the pressure of getting it right the first time. I look at networking as a reward point system, where every connection made is a point gained and you can redeem later on in life. We have the Community of Practice (CoP) that allows follow up and chances to show case our abilities outside the classroom environment as individuals or in our respective groups. Soon enough different companies data base will be uploaded and new opportunities will arise. More professors and experts will join and the community will grow. You have the liberty to invite someone to CoP if you feel that their expertise could be of help to you as an individual or others. If you identify a connection worth exploring and you have no idea how to approach them you can ask for help, there is always someone willing to give a hand. The possibilities are endless but we have to make that first step or we will never realize how many people are willing to walk with us. What saddens me is that we have not realized the opportunities provided to us or have not been willing to invest time to exploit them fully. We have not taken time to upload our resume or at the very least a profile picture or write to a new connection and clearly articulate our areas of interest and the kind of push we need. In my opinion the field is set and we only have to be willing to play in it. It would be sad if after two years we looked back at our time here with regret, 24 months is way too much time to spend pointing out what has not been given to you. If you think life gave you lemons the minute you stepped in PAUWES please make some lemonade summer is coming!
    Apr 04, 2016 1402
  • 02 May 2016
    I am a lover of elephants and I have been lucky enough to watch them in their natural habitat. They are the most majestic animals I have ever come across and the sheer size of an adult bull or cow always leaves me in wonder. Their sense of family and interaction is an honor to watch.  There are two species of elephant; African elephant weighing up to 6, 000kg and its Asian counterpart weighing at around 5,000kg. Every elephant herd is led by a matriarch which is the oldest female in the herd (it’s a female world out there). Her role is to offer guidance to the heard and teach the young ones how to behave. So intelligent are they that they extend their trunks in greetings when they meet each other and are known to perform funeral rituals for their dead. Let me assure you that I am not here to bore you with facts about elephants but to bring to your attention the threat that faces these gentle giants.   On 30th April 2016 Kenya burnt over 100 tones of ivory stock piles which is a representation of about 8,000 elephants that have been lost to poaching in the recent years. This ivory was not only confiscated from poachers in Kenya but from traffickers using Kenyan airports and ports to export the illegal goods. According to the African Wildlife Foundation there are around 470,000 African elephants roaming the wild. Some of us may think that this is a huge number but the picture on the ground is more tragic. Every 15 minutes an African elephant is killed by poachers for its tusks. That means that if this trend continues the elephants will be extinct in the next two decades. Boom! Gone!   The historical burn of over 100 tones of ivory at Nairobi National Park Most of you might argue that we live in a world where it is survival for the fittest and Charles Darwin would definitely back up your argument. However, this is not nature taking its course but human greed fuelling massive killings. The largest markets for ivory products are China and the United States. What disgusts me the most is that it is the elite that are buying the ivory trinkets and carvings to cement their standing in society. The icing on this madness is their belief that the trinkets or carvings are good luck charms, an aphrodisiac (really?) and are a sign of wealth. How low the human race has sunk is beyond my comprehension. The cycle of ivory trade is one of pain and loss of lives. Park rangers are killed daily in the line of duty and war lords like Joseph Kony from Uganda sell ivory to buy arms and continue reigning terror among the innocents. Do not get me started on the crimes his army has committed against women and children as he seeks to quench his power hungry soul.   That is why the action of Kenya to burn over 100 tones of ivory is very significant. It sends a message that Kenya will not tolerate illegal trade in wildlife. It is a cry to the world to pay attention before elephants and rhinos become a tale like the dinosaurs. Many people especially in Kenya have been of the opinion that the ivory should have been sold at an estimation of 172 million USD and the money used for conservation efforts. I choose to disagree; great strides have been made in banning ivory trade in some states in America and parts of China. Releasing such amount of ivory to the market will only refuel the trade and result to more poaching. On the other hand guarding ivory stock piles is an expensive affair and would require 24/7 surveillance. The danger with this is that we have some rotten corrupt individuals who would not blink an eye when sneaking the ivory to the black market. So what better way to stick it up their faces other than burning the stock piles to ashes! We are simply saying elephants are worth more alive, let me explain;   Tourism in Kenya is the second largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture. The $1 billion a year industry is a source of livelihood for thousands of Kenyans while our South African counterparts earn more than $ 7 billion every year accounting for around 7.9% of its GDP. I could go on and on about the benefits we derive as a continent from live animals than dead. I recognize that this problem is not only unique to Africa but conservationists around the world are racing against time to save other endangered species like the white rhino, sea turtles, jaguar, panda, white sharks among many others. What has gotten us here is human greed. It is the lack of respect for any other creature that walks on the face of the earth. We have forgotten that man may be supposedly the most intelligent on the web but every species has a role to play in the functioning of the food web.   We are destroying our planet at an unprecedented rate. We have cleared forests to build cities and expand our suburban neighborhoods, we have polluted the same rivers that give us life and turned our ears deaf to the conservationists’ voices of reason among us. History however, will judge us. Generations to come will hold us responsible for not protecting that which was entrusted to us. We owe it to them therefore, to be stewards of this beautiful planet until we can pass the torch to them.
    1039 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I am a lover of elephants and I have been lucky enough to watch them in their natural habitat. They are the most majestic animals I have ever come across and the sheer size of an adult bull or cow always leaves me in wonder. Their sense of family and interaction is an honor to watch.  There are two species of elephant; African elephant weighing up to 6, 000kg and its Asian counterpart weighing at around 5,000kg. Every elephant herd is led by a matriarch which is the oldest female in the herd (it’s a female world out there). Her role is to offer guidance to the heard and teach the young ones how to behave. So intelligent are they that they extend their trunks in greetings when they meet each other and are known to perform funeral rituals for their dead. Let me assure you that I am not here to bore you with facts about elephants but to bring to your attention the threat that faces these gentle giants.   On 30th April 2016 Kenya burnt over 100 tones of ivory stock piles which is a representation of about 8,000 elephants that have been lost to poaching in the recent years. This ivory was not only confiscated from poachers in Kenya but from traffickers using Kenyan airports and ports to export the illegal goods. According to the African Wildlife Foundation there are around 470,000 African elephants roaming the wild. Some of us may think that this is a huge number but the picture on the ground is more tragic. Every 15 minutes an African elephant is killed by poachers for its tusks. That means that if this trend continues the elephants will be extinct in the next two decades. Boom! Gone!   The historical burn of over 100 tones of ivory at Nairobi National Park Most of you might argue that we live in a world where it is survival for the fittest and Charles Darwin would definitely back up your argument. However, this is not nature taking its course but human greed fuelling massive killings. The largest markets for ivory products are China and the United States. What disgusts me the most is that it is the elite that are buying the ivory trinkets and carvings to cement their standing in society. The icing on this madness is their belief that the trinkets or carvings are good luck charms, an aphrodisiac (really?) and are a sign of wealth. How low the human race has sunk is beyond my comprehension. The cycle of ivory trade is one of pain and loss of lives. Park rangers are killed daily in the line of duty and war lords like Joseph Kony from Uganda sell ivory to buy arms and continue reigning terror among the innocents. Do not get me started on the crimes his army has committed against women and children as he seeks to quench his power hungry soul.   That is why the action of Kenya to burn over 100 tones of ivory is very significant. It sends a message that Kenya will not tolerate illegal trade in wildlife. It is a cry to the world to pay attention before elephants and rhinos become a tale like the dinosaurs. Many people especially in Kenya have been of the opinion that the ivory should have been sold at an estimation of 172 million USD and the money used for conservation efforts. I choose to disagree; great strides have been made in banning ivory trade in some states in America and parts of China. Releasing such amount of ivory to the market will only refuel the trade and result to more poaching. On the other hand guarding ivory stock piles is an expensive affair and would require 24/7 surveillance. The danger with this is that we have some rotten corrupt individuals who would not blink an eye when sneaking the ivory to the black market. So what better way to stick it up their faces other than burning the stock piles to ashes! We are simply saying elephants are worth more alive, let me explain;   Tourism in Kenya is the second largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture. The $1 billion a year industry is a source of livelihood for thousands of Kenyans while our South African counterparts earn more than $ 7 billion every year accounting for around 7.9% of its GDP. I could go on and on about the benefits we derive as a continent from live animals than dead. I recognize that this problem is not only unique to Africa but conservationists around the world are racing against time to save other endangered species like the white rhino, sea turtles, jaguar, panda, white sharks among many others. What has gotten us here is human greed. It is the lack of respect for any other creature that walks on the face of the earth. We have forgotten that man may be supposedly the most intelligent on the web but every species has a role to play in the functioning of the food web.   We are destroying our planet at an unprecedented rate. We have cleared forests to build cities and expand our suburban neighborhoods, we have polluted the same rivers that give us life and turned our ears deaf to the conservationists’ voices of reason among us. History however, will judge us. Generations to come will hold us responsible for not protecting that which was entrusted to us. We owe it to them therefore, to be stewards of this beautiful planet until we can pass the torch to them.
    May 02, 2016 1039
  • 01 Mar 2016
    If you are one to pay attention to job and scholarship adverts you have probably come across the phrase “women are encouraged to apply”. Some go as far as raising the age requirement for women or lowering their required years of experience for a job. Where I come from (Kenya) the constitution allows for the election of women representatives under a category that no man is allowed to compete under. The exodus of all these began in September 1995 during the Fourth World Conference on Women where participating governments came together and passed what is  now famously know as the Beijing declaration. Their aim was to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity. Women and girls were to have equal opportunities in accessing resources, education, health care, leadership positions and participating in the decision making process. But just how did the participating governments hope to achieve this? If you go through the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action document I can bet you my stipend (the whole 750$) that you will come across the word equity. I believe this was done in good faith but its implementation has lost sight of what it really means to achieve gender equity. It does not mean that women have to be given special preference to match up to the skill level of men nor do they want to hold jobs simply because they are female. Creating special parliamentary seats for women does not equal to better service delivery or representation of their needs. I think our systems have failed in implementing the goals that were envisioned in the Beijing declaration. Our women and girls do not need special favors just because of their gender nor does it mean we forget the boy child. Forgetting the boy child simply means years from now we will have to launch a new declaration on the empowerment of men. What they all need is mentorship and skill building from a young age. If we provide all the necessary tools and skills for the development of our young girls and boys there will be no need whatsoever to favor one sex over the other when opportunities arise. I will own up to using the gender card to get my way sometimes, like getting to do a class presentation first over the guys in my class or getting a seat in the bus when I am well capable of standing through a trip(hopefully I will still get a seat after this). I will even play the vulnerable card because what man does not want to act as the prince charming to a damsel in distress. Yet I never want my gender to play a role in earning a position or favors that put my skills and abilities into question. Maybe I am being a tad bit hypocritical but I want to believe that I have earned enough skills to compete on the same level with the opposite sex. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a lady accused of using her wiles to get good grades or earn a promotion. Some of these accusations maybe true but who are we to think that they are incapable of earning their way up. It is true that women worldwide face indomitable challenges more so in Africa in areas of education, health care and resources allocation. Gender mainstreaming and equity may offer solutions to these challenges but it does not mean compromising on quality so that we can all pat our backs on how well our society is doing. It is not giving special preference to women over men. I believe it is the nurturing of the skills and capabilities of both men and women from a young age and harnessing what each of them can do best. 
    884 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • If you are one to pay attention to job and scholarship adverts you have probably come across the phrase “women are encouraged to apply”. Some go as far as raising the age requirement for women or lowering their required years of experience for a job. Where I come from (Kenya) the constitution allows for the election of women representatives under a category that no man is allowed to compete under. The exodus of all these began in September 1995 during the Fourth World Conference on Women where participating governments came together and passed what is  now famously know as the Beijing declaration. Their aim was to advance the goals of equality, development and peace for all women everywhere in the interest of all humanity. Women and girls were to have equal opportunities in accessing resources, education, health care, leadership positions and participating in the decision making process. But just how did the participating governments hope to achieve this? If you go through the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action document I can bet you my stipend (the whole 750$) that you will come across the word equity. I believe this was done in good faith but its implementation has lost sight of what it really means to achieve gender equity. It does not mean that women have to be given special preference to match up to the skill level of men nor do they want to hold jobs simply because they are female. Creating special parliamentary seats for women does not equal to better service delivery or representation of their needs. I think our systems have failed in implementing the goals that were envisioned in the Beijing declaration. Our women and girls do not need special favors just because of their gender nor does it mean we forget the boy child. Forgetting the boy child simply means years from now we will have to launch a new declaration on the empowerment of men. What they all need is mentorship and skill building from a young age. If we provide all the necessary tools and skills for the development of our young girls and boys there will be no need whatsoever to favor one sex over the other when opportunities arise. I will own up to using the gender card to get my way sometimes, like getting to do a class presentation first over the guys in my class or getting a seat in the bus when I am well capable of standing through a trip(hopefully I will still get a seat after this). I will even play the vulnerable card because what man does not want to act as the prince charming to a damsel in distress. Yet I never want my gender to play a role in earning a position or favors that put my skills and abilities into question. Maybe I am being a tad bit hypocritical but I want to believe that I have earned enough skills to compete on the same level with the opposite sex. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard a lady accused of using her wiles to get good grades or earn a promotion. Some of these accusations maybe true but who are we to think that they are incapable of earning their way up. It is true that women worldwide face indomitable challenges more so in Africa in areas of education, health care and resources allocation. Gender mainstreaming and equity may offer solutions to these challenges but it does not mean compromising on quality so that we can all pat our backs on how well our society is doing. It is not giving special preference to women over men. I believe it is the nurturing of the skills and capabilities of both men and women from a young age and harnessing what each of them can do best. 
    Mar 01, 2016 884
  • 18 Apr 2016
    This is for the generation born before the millennium. Those who know what it means to sit down and write a letter to a loved one or friend. Those of who like me had pen pals growing up and waited for days on end for their letters or postcards to get to you. For those who made long queues to make a minute call on the telephone booths and those who may know that a telegram is charged per word. This is for those of us who sat around the fire and listened to our grandparents talk the night away as they relived their lives. The millennium came with its blessings and curses. For one communication has been made easier and we no longer have to look for smoke signs or wait for a life time before we get a reply to a letter, with a press of a button you can communicate to anyone in the world in real time. Take for example the social media facebook, twitter (I still cannot come up with a sensible 140 character message), pintrest, snapchat, instagram, whatsApp, viber………and the list goes on and on. All these platforms have brought the world to us, created an easier way to keep up with family and friends, opened up new opportunities that we could have only dreamt of. We have shared our milestones and failures on these platforms, our joy and pain, our dreams and aspirations and even our fears; they have simply become our public diaries. These are milestones that the human race should be proud of but they have also marked the death of face to face conversation and time we take in nurturing relationships. We are more content in having a multitude of followers and friends who know nothing about us other than what we let them see. Have a look around you at the airports, restaurants, banks, buses, classes, everywhere you go people have their heads bent on their phones. We have the world at the tip of our fingers but the world is passing us by. We are so busy hash tagging our lives that we do not even realize that the most important relationships we have are crumbling because we are not putting as much effort into them as we should. I find it sad that you can be seated in a room and instead of engaging in a conversation everybody is busy on their phones or laptops typing their worries away. If you visit most homes today, everyone is glued to their phones instead of looking up and connecting with the people who really mater, family. Nobody speaks anymore and few really listen.  In my opinion phones have made most of us ill mannered and rude. Some of us compulsively check our phones for notifications you would think we are in charge of some secret mission. In fact we are so far gone in this addiction that they have gone ahead and found a name for it “nomophobia”; the fear of being without a phone. My close friends and I have a rule. If any of us touches their phone when we go out to eat you pay the bill for everyone on the table. Some may consider this an extreme measure that is unnecessary but we realized we have to nurture the relationships we share and listen to what the other person is saying without any distraction. It is time we drew the line and took back our lives and valuable time. We must make a conscious decision to unchain ourselves from the slavery that has become our phones. It is alright to let a call or a chat message go unanswered unless it is an emergency just because you want to share that moment with a loved one. It is time we took our lives and reclaimed the relationships we have lost or neglected. I believe it is time for us to stop measuring our worth on how many friends we have or the number of likes we get!
    634 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • This is for the generation born before the millennium. Those who know what it means to sit down and write a letter to a loved one or friend. Those of who like me had pen pals growing up and waited for days on end for their letters or postcards to get to you. For those who made long queues to make a minute call on the telephone booths and those who may know that a telegram is charged per word. This is for those of us who sat around the fire and listened to our grandparents talk the night away as they relived their lives. The millennium came with its blessings and curses. For one communication has been made easier and we no longer have to look for smoke signs or wait for a life time before we get a reply to a letter, with a press of a button you can communicate to anyone in the world in real time. Take for example the social media facebook, twitter (I still cannot come up with a sensible 140 character message), pintrest, snapchat, instagram, whatsApp, viber………and the list goes on and on. All these platforms have brought the world to us, created an easier way to keep up with family and friends, opened up new opportunities that we could have only dreamt of. We have shared our milestones and failures on these platforms, our joy and pain, our dreams and aspirations and even our fears; they have simply become our public diaries. These are milestones that the human race should be proud of but they have also marked the death of face to face conversation and time we take in nurturing relationships. We are more content in having a multitude of followers and friends who know nothing about us other than what we let them see. Have a look around you at the airports, restaurants, banks, buses, classes, everywhere you go people have their heads bent on their phones. We have the world at the tip of our fingers but the world is passing us by. We are so busy hash tagging our lives that we do not even realize that the most important relationships we have are crumbling because we are not putting as much effort into them as we should. I find it sad that you can be seated in a room and instead of engaging in a conversation everybody is busy on their phones or laptops typing their worries away. If you visit most homes today, everyone is glued to their phones instead of looking up and connecting with the people who really mater, family. Nobody speaks anymore and few really listen.  In my opinion phones have made most of us ill mannered and rude. Some of us compulsively check our phones for notifications you would think we are in charge of some secret mission. In fact we are so far gone in this addiction that they have gone ahead and found a name for it “nomophobia”; the fear of being without a phone. My close friends and I have a rule. If any of us touches their phone when we go out to eat you pay the bill for everyone on the table. Some may consider this an extreme measure that is unnecessary but we realized we have to nurture the relationships we share and listen to what the other person is saying without any distraction. It is time we drew the line and took back our lives and valuable time. We must make a conscious decision to unchain ourselves from the slavery that has become our phones. It is alright to let a call or a chat message go unanswered unless it is an emergency just because you want to share that moment with a loved one. It is time we took our lives and reclaimed the relationships we have lost or neglected. I believe it is time for us to stop measuring our worth on how many friends we have or the number of likes we get!
    Apr 18, 2016 634
  • 09 May 2016
    I will be honest with you, most times I have no clue what my next blog will be about. It is hard to explain the writing process but unless inspiration strikes most times I just stare on a blank page with a blinking cursor. So as you can imagine it is always a pleasure and relief to come across a subject I can explore and hopefully stimulate a discussion on. I am not a movie lover; in fact you do not want to watch a movie with me because I have to know the ending before I watch one and most times than not I will be talking your ears off about the different characters. I will admit though there are times my nose is pulled out of a book long enough to watch one. This week it was John Q, a movie about a desperate father played by Denzel Washington trying to get his dying son on top of a heart transplant list. A really sad story with a happy dramatic ending, but it raised my interest on organ and tissue donation in Africa.   A quick search on Google gave me very little to go on. In fact, I mainly got statistics from South Africa whose donation ratio is estimated to be 2 to every 1 million. Shocking, I know! Kenya’s situation is worse with for example people suffering from corneal blindness getting their cornea transplants from the USA at a cost of 2000 USD which roughly translates to 200,000 KES. This is an exorbitant fee for most of those seeking a new lease in life so most are condemned to a life of blindness. All the organ banks in Kenya are mostly empty and those who donate are usually living relative trying to save the life of a loved one. The law in most African countries I came to find out is not clear on the guidelines for organ donation so those who can afford it opt to seek medical care outside the continent. So dire is the situation that the black market in organ harvesting is thriving in places like Egypt and South Africa where the poor and refugees are targeted. Their organs are either harvested through coercion, consent or downright theft.   It is clear that there is a big gap between the number of those waiting to receive organ and tissue transplants and those willing to be donors. So why are the majority of us not registered as organ donors when we die? I believe it is for a number of reasons mostly cultural, legal and religious. African cultures believe in the continuity of life and there is really no distinction between the soul, spirit and the body. Giving a part of your body is considered giving up a part of your whole being. On the other hand most religions believe in the continuity of the human spirit yet no one is talking about the benefits our mortal bodies could bring to this world. Over all there is very little information within our belief system for people to begin questioning about the possibilities that exist and what they can do to help. Sadly in this case belief marks the end of reasoning.   I admit signing up as an organ donor after death makes us confront our mortality and it is a hard truth to face. I have flirted with the idea of visiting an organ donation center in Kenya but I have never really committed to it. If I died tomorrow, donating my organs could help give up to seven people a chance to live longer; donating my soft tissue could improve the quality of life of up to 50 more people. I think that is an empowering and selfish thought at the same time. I acknowledge that our cultures and religious beliefs are deeply ingrained in us and sometimes our loved ones may prove to be the biggest obstacles to overcome. What I wish to do is to start a conversation on how we can make lives better even when we are gone or how we can ease our family into the idea that it is alright to share us with the world. I hope that you will visit your physician and have a candid discussion on the alternatives available in your country. Let us be part of the change and the better Africa we want to see even in death!    
    712 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I will be honest with you, most times I have no clue what my next blog will be about. It is hard to explain the writing process but unless inspiration strikes most times I just stare on a blank page with a blinking cursor. So as you can imagine it is always a pleasure and relief to come across a subject I can explore and hopefully stimulate a discussion on. I am not a movie lover; in fact you do not want to watch a movie with me because I have to know the ending before I watch one and most times than not I will be talking your ears off about the different characters. I will admit though there are times my nose is pulled out of a book long enough to watch one. This week it was John Q, a movie about a desperate father played by Denzel Washington trying to get his dying son on top of a heart transplant list. A really sad story with a happy dramatic ending, but it raised my interest on organ and tissue donation in Africa.   A quick search on Google gave me very little to go on. In fact, I mainly got statistics from South Africa whose donation ratio is estimated to be 2 to every 1 million. Shocking, I know! Kenya’s situation is worse with for example people suffering from corneal blindness getting their cornea transplants from the USA at a cost of 2000 USD which roughly translates to 200,000 KES. This is an exorbitant fee for most of those seeking a new lease in life so most are condemned to a life of blindness. All the organ banks in Kenya are mostly empty and those who donate are usually living relative trying to save the life of a loved one. The law in most African countries I came to find out is not clear on the guidelines for organ donation so those who can afford it opt to seek medical care outside the continent. So dire is the situation that the black market in organ harvesting is thriving in places like Egypt and South Africa where the poor and refugees are targeted. Their organs are either harvested through coercion, consent or downright theft.   It is clear that there is a big gap between the number of those waiting to receive organ and tissue transplants and those willing to be donors. So why are the majority of us not registered as organ donors when we die? I believe it is for a number of reasons mostly cultural, legal and religious. African cultures believe in the continuity of life and there is really no distinction between the soul, spirit and the body. Giving a part of your body is considered giving up a part of your whole being. On the other hand most religions believe in the continuity of the human spirit yet no one is talking about the benefits our mortal bodies could bring to this world. Over all there is very little information within our belief system for people to begin questioning about the possibilities that exist and what they can do to help. Sadly in this case belief marks the end of reasoning.   I admit signing up as an organ donor after death makes us confront our mortality and it is a hard truth to face. I have flirted with the idea of visiting an organ donation center in Kenya but I have never really committed to it. If I died tomorrow, donating my organs could help give up to seven people a chance to live longer; donating my soft tissue could improve the quality of life of up to 50 more people. I think that is an empowering and selfish thought at the same time. I acknowledge that our cultures and religious beliefs are deeply ingrained in us and sometimes our loved ones may prove to be the biggest obstacles to overcome. What I wish to do is to start a conversation on how we can make lives better even when we are gone or how we can ease our family into the idea that it is alright to share us with the world. I hope that you will visit your physician and have a candid discussion on the alternatives available in your country. Let us be part of the change and the better Africa we want to see even in death!    
    May 09, 2016 712
  • 21 Jun 2016
    A day ago, the world refugees’ day was commemorated, the whole world took a moment to reflect on the agony experienced by men, women and children who suffer for the crimes they did not commit! If my voice was loud enough, I would vouch for a week of commemoration to remember them. Regrettably I don’t have the power to, nevertheless I do believe that the little we can, we must do. I choose to write about the refugees’ status in Africa in commemoration of our brothers and sisters whose dreams have been shattered to merely finding a place to stay. In Africa, people have moved for the past very many years in search for asylum and security. This has become so part of us that it is viewed as the new normal. Many African countries have been blanketed in wars for the past 25 years. Somalia is one of the countries in Africa that have long suffered from such civil wars. Since 1991, the country has been devastated by the constant mass shootings and people displacements. A total of 1.1 million internal displacement camps has been registered since the latest date (December 2015). Like Somalia, the case is not any different for South-Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa. Destruction of property, loss of lives and very hard living conditions force men, women and children to trek long distances in search for better and safer conditions. This trekking is made more difficult by the poor road systems, harsh weather conditions and insecurities from the surrounding forests and bushes that harbor dangerous wild animals. According to UNHCR, over 1.69 million people have been internally displaced in South-Sudan and 0.64 million people have fled the country to the neighboring countries. For every human, survival is a virtue and a right to life is an obligation. Therefore it is imperative that refugees are welcomed amicably with open hands, a sign that gives hope to them especially the young for they are the future generation. The UNHCR and other organizations have put efforts together to set up camps as new homes for refugees. This has been done in the neighboring countries and in regions outside the warzones. However, camps cannot be looked at as the silver bullet to solve the refugee crisis that is escalated by the persistent wars every now and then. There is a need to examine the causes from the source and seek sustainable solutions. Life in resettlement camps gets difficult with time as internal and external conflicts start grooming up, shortage of medical services, food and water. In the neighboring countries, camps later become a liability as there is a constant need to finance and manage them with help from the host governments, before a decision is made to resettle the displaced back to their countries. Sometimes the wars take a long time to stop hence the need to manage the camps as long as it takes. Amidst security threats and terror that the neighboring countries are next in line, it is important to have dialogue among the regional bodies as more measures are taken to restrain what is happening around them. According to the UN charter, all countries over the world have a role to respect and protect people. The African union commission to which 54 African countries are member states, supports the above too. However, some countries have closed off borders to refugees because of alleged security threats amongst other tantalizing economic and environmental issues. Kenya closed off her borders to refugee entrance following the constant attacks from Al-Shabaab. The country also closed off the existing refugee camps leaving over 600,000 people homeless. Criticisms from a number of organizations were heard from the different corners of the world citing the act as being harsh and inappropriate. Nevertheless, it is important to examine and understand the conditions and situations over which the East African country closed its borders.   tonnykukeera@gmail.com
    509 Posted by Tonny Kukeera
  • A day ago, the world refugees’ day was commemorated, the whole world took a moment to reflect on the agony experienced by men, women and children who suffer for the crimes they did not commit! If my voice was loud enough, I would vouch for a week of commemoration to remember them. Regrettably I don’t have the power to, nevertheless I do believe that the little we can, we must do. I choose to write about the refugees’ status in Africa in commemoration of our brothers and sisters whose dreams have been shattered to merely finding a place to stay. In Africa, people have moved for the past very many years in search for asylum and security. This has become so part of us that it is viewed as the new normal. Many African countries have been blanketed in wars for the past 25 years. Somalia is one of the countries in Africa that have long suffered from such civil wars. Since 1991, the country has been devastated by the constant mass shootings and people displacements. A total of 1.1 million internal displacement camps has been registered since the latest date (December 2015). Like Somalia, the case is not any different for South-Sudan, the youngest nation in Africa. Destruction of property, loss of lives and very hard living conditions force men, women and children to trek long distances in search for better and safer conditions. This trekking is made more difficult by the poor road systems, harsh weather conditions and insecurities from the surrounding forests and bushes that harbor dangerous wild animals. According to UNHCR, over 1.69 million people have been internally displaced in South-Sudan and 0.64 million people have fled the country to the neighboring countries. For every human, survival is a virtue and a right to life is an obligation. Therefore it is imperative that refugees are welcomed amicably with open hands, a sign that gives hope to them especially the young for they are the future generation. The UNHCR and other organizations have put efforts together to set up camps as new homes for refugees. This has been done in the neighboring countries and in regions outside the warzones. However, camps cannot be looked at as the silver bullet to solve the refugee crisis that is escalated by the persistent wars every now and then. There is a need to examine the causes from the source and seek sustainable solutions. Life in resettlement camps gets difficult with time as internal and external conflicts start grooming up, shortage of medical services, food and water. In the neighboring countries, camps later become a liability as there is a constant need to finance and manage them with help from the host governments, before a decision is made to resettle the displaced back to their countries. Sometimes the wars take a long time to stop hence the need to manage the camps as long as it takes. Amidst security threats and terror that the neighboring countries are next in line, it is important to have dialogue among the regional bodies as more measures are taken to restrain what is happening around them. According to the UN charter, all countries over the world have a role to respect and protect people. The African union commission to which 54 African countries are member states, supports the above too. However, some countries have closed off borders to refugees because of alleged security threats amongst other tantalizing economic and environmental issues. Kenya closed off her borders to refugee entrance following the constant attacks from Al-Shabaab. The country also closed off the existing refugee camps leaving over 600,000 people homeless. Criticisms from a number of organizations were heard from the different corners of the world citing the act as being harsh and inappropriate. Nevertheless, it is important to examine and understand the conditions and situations over which the East African country closed its borders.   tonnykukeera@gmail.com
    Jun 21, 2016 509
  • 28 Apr 2016
    The first of its kind in our beautiful institute, call it the epitome of excellence. This is yet another platform to raise awareness of the issues around us. Yet still another opportunity to build African future leaders who can hold discussions and dialogue to come up with appropriate solutions to Africa’s problems through making informed decisions. With platforms like this Africa’s future is not just bright but about to glow. Discussing African matters not only focuses on Africa but also the world at large pointing out the different opportunities for collaboration. The countries of the world face the same problems. What we brand “African problems” now, were once “Europe’s problems” and these still exist but not at the same level as in Africa. This is a good thing as case studies are drawn, bringing together different people, laying out learning points and leading to easy ways to handle the different concerns in a better perspective. This is how it happened. We had opening remarks from the team leader Subject Matter, Mr. Andrew Mugumya. His words were not more than encouragement, appreciation and acknowledgement of the efforts by other Community of Practice (CoP) teams in making the debate possible. He gave the timetable for the debates (after every 3 weeks), with certificates to be awarded to participants. At this time, everyone was waiting for the moment when the two teams get to battle it out as they try to convince the audience that “Renewable Energy is the sole solution for Africa’s energy problems or just a nice tune that needs Conventional Energy sources as the soloist”. The moment came, Mr. Eric Otieno, presided over the debate, introduced the 2 sides; Proposers and Opposers, stated the rules of the debate and the ball was set rolling. The first speaker from the proposers, Mr. Yunus Alokore introduced the big elephant in the room. ‘Energy is simply the ability to do work” he stated, He went ahead to give a brief introduction of Africa’s energy problems and how this has impeded development in numerous ways. North Africa depends mostly on fossil fuels, this is unsustainable and there is currently a lot of pressure. The solution to all this is Renewable Energy (RE) and that explains why there is a multitude of RE projects as they’re trying to diversify the energy mix. He pointed out the incredible potential of RE in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and how the region continues to live under extreme energy poverty. “Access to energy in Africa at large is still a conundrum, mostly SSA, suffering from systems inefficiencies of the few available ones, low capacity factor and overdependence on a single energy form”. The sun is always available, the potential for biomass is high but the efficiency of use to ensure sustainability is still an issue. More than 1.5 M tons of oil in Nigeria is extracted every year, this has an effect on the water bodies in the country and the environment at large through pollution. This does not only happen in Nigeria but in many other parts of the world where conventional energy sources are dominant. Speaking about the costs of RE, he pointed out the increased funding efforts from the different multinational organizations – the world bank allocated more than 6 billion US $ on RE projects this year alone, Total allocated more than 6bn US $ to financing RE projects too. On buying costs, he gave an account of how the prices of the different RE products have been falling over the years. “So costs should not be a thing to worry about”. Organisations are willing to finance African governments in a direction of clean energies and RE is the solution. He also underscored that when one looks at the lifecycle of both energy systems i.e. RE and conventional energies, it is crystal clear that conventional systems are rather expensive. He submitted and left the floor. Then came the second speaker from the proposers; Ms. Vivian Ogechi. She started by giving the difference between electricity and energy. She acknowledged the fact that RE is a long term approach and for that we need to take baby steps. Citing the great Inga dam in Congo, “this has the potential to feed more than 80% of Africa’s population but due to inefficiencies, it can’t even feed the whole Congo as a country”. She went ahead to state that energy systems like Hybrids where renewable systems of different types are joined together can be a perfect solution to mother Africa’s energy problems. She highlighted some of the African countries where governments are taking steps to include RE in the energy mix (Ethiopia, Algeria and Kenya). She concluded that decentralized energy systems are the solution for the continent’s isolated rural settings. The first speaker from the opposers, took the stage; Ms. Irene Nantongo. “It is very wrong to state that RE is the sole savior for this beautiful continent”, she exclaimed. “What about conventional sources?” she expressed her dissatisfaction to the fact that such discussions come at a time when her beautiful country (Uganda) and other countries have discovered the “flowing wealth”- Oil. She stressed further that the motion is very wrong, citing examples of developed countries and how they never gave up on conventional energy. “Their energy mix is still dominated by fossils fuels, look at the US - conventional energies are still prominent in their energy mix!”. Intermittency of RE is a very big issue, “Does the sun shine every day?”, she asked. Considering the high cost of the RE technologies, a poor continent like mother Africa can’t take that route for now. She drew examples from some of the developed countries in Africa, alluding how clearly their energy mix is dominated by conventional energy. “Africa is rich in RE resources but we need to think wiser”- she submitted and left the floor.The second speaker from the opposers; Mr. Cleus Bamutura, took over the floor. “It is true Africa has the resources, but listen to these humbling facts - Africa’s share on the world total energy consumption is only 5%. Total energy consumed by Africa in one year is consumed by china in one month.” The question should not be sole savior but rather optimization of the different energy sources the continent has at its disposal. Through this, Africa’s energy problems will become history in no time. Our focus should be on setting up resilient energy systems and handling them sustainably. He went ahead to point out the doubtable reliability of renewables citing that they are season dependent. He criticized the debate motion mentioning that, the focus should be on looking for better energy systems rather than limiting our options to one energy source RE as the sole savior. He stated that reasons for dependency on RE are more of sustainability than cost. He further criticized the funding from the organisations alluding how there are many strings attached and that Africa needs to move forward without that. “Yes, RE drives to a direction of access to energy but the question we should ask ourselves is, energy for what?”, he submitted. Rebuttal from proposersOn the floor came the speaker from proposers, Mr. Yunus Alokore. “Human beings never moved from stone age because they ran out of stones”. This was a reaction to the opposers consistent pointing to the availability of conventional energy in Africa and how we can’t ignore them in preference to RE. He defended solar energy by giving a range of other RE sources like Geothermal and Wind that can be harnessed in tandem to overcome the problem of intermittency. Underscoring the Wind potential in Africa being equivalent to the current total installed capacity, and geothermal potential estimated at 15GW. He concluded that intermittency of RE should not be an issue once Africa embarks entirely on RE. Reactions from the audienceThe audience was given a chance to participate in this very engaging session. A lot was said but the contentious issue was the two words “sole savior”. The different speakers from the audience directed a lot of focus on this as they claimed Africa is plagued with a plethora of problems facing the energy sector ranging from poor governance to food insecurity. And hence it would be terribly wrong to single out a solo issue RE as the sole savior of the continent’s energy problems. In a nutshell, the debate was educative, entertaining and very informative. All the participants were satisfied with the richness of the discussions that gave them a detailed insight into Africa’s energy situation, resources and scenarios as well as proposed solutions to curb energy problems in the continent. The entire PAUWES community is looking forward to the next one. As the editorial team, we take this opportunity to thank the entire community for making this a success. @Editorial_team
    438 Posted by Tonny Kukeera
  • The first of its kind in our beautiful institute, call it the epitome of excellence. This is yet another platform to raise awareness of the issues around us. Yet still another opportunity to build African future leaders who can hold discussions and dialogue to come up with appropriate solutions to Africa’s problems through making informed decisions. With platforms like this Africa’s future is not just bright but about to glow. Discussing African matters not only focuses on Africa but also the world at large pointing out the different opportunities for collaboration. The countries of the world face the same problems. What we brand “African problems” now, were once “Europe’s problems” and these still exist but not at the same level as in Africa. This is a good thing as case studies are drawn, bringing together different people, laying out learning points and leading to easy ways to handle the different concerns in a better perspective. This is how it happened. We had opening remarks from the team leader Subject Matter, Mr. Andrew Mugumya. His words were not more than encouragement, appreciation and acknowledgement of the efforts by other Community of Practice (CoP) teams in making the debate possible. He gave the timetable for the debates (after every 3 weeks), with certificates to be awarded to participants. At this time, everyone was waiting for the moment when the two teams get to battle it out as they try to convince the audience that “Renewable Energy is the sole solution for Africa’s energy problems or just a nice tune that needs Conventional Energy sources as the soloist”. The moment came, Mr. Eric Otieno, presided over the debate, introduced the 2 sides; Proposers and Opposers, stated the rules of the debate and the ball was set rolling. The first speaker from the proposers, Mr. Yunus Alokore introduced the big elephant in the room. ‘Energy is simply the ability to do work” he stated, He went ahead to give a brief introduction of Africa’s energy problems and how this has impeded development in numerous ways. North Africa depends mostly on fossil fuels, this is unsustainable and there is currently a lot of pressure. The solution to all this is Renewable Energy (RE) and that explains why there is a multitude of RE projects as they’re trying to diversify the energy mix. He pointed out the incredible potential of RE in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) and how the region continues to live under extreme energy poverty. “Access to energy in Africa at large is still a conundrum, mostly SSA, suffering from systems inefficiencies of the few available ones, low capacity factor and overdependence on a single energy form”. The sun is always available, the potential for biomass is high but the efficiency of use to ensure sustainability is still an issue. More than 1.5 M tons of oil in Nigeria is extracted every year, this has an effect on the water bodies in the country and the environment at large through pollution. This does not only happen in Nigeria but in many other parts of the world where conventional energy sources are dominant. Speaking about the costs of RE, he pointed out the increased funding efforts from the different multinational organizations – the world bank allocated more than 6 billion US $ on RE projects this year alone, Total allocated more than 6bn US $ to financing RE projects too. On buying costs, he gave an account of how the prices of the different RE products have been falling over the years. “So costs should not be a thing to worry about”. Organisations are willing to finance African governments in a direction of clean energies and RE is the solution. He also underscored that when one looks at the lifecycle of both energy systems i.e. RE and conventional energies, it is crystal clear that conventional systems are rather expensive. He submitted and left the floor. Then came the second speaker from the proposers; Ms. Vivian Ogechi. She started by giving the difference between electricity and energy. She acknowledged the fact that RE is a long term approach and for that we need to take baby steps. Citing the great Inga dam in Congo, “this has the potential to feed more than 80% of Africa’s population but due to inefficiencies, it can’t even feed the whole Congo as a country”. She went ahead to state that energy systems like Hybrids where renewable systems of different types are joined together can be a perfect solution to mother Africa’s energy problems. She highlighted some of the African countries where governments are taking steps to include RE in the energy mix (Ethiopia, Algeria and Kenya). She concluded that decentralized energy systems are the solution for the continent’s isolated rural settings. The first speaker from the opposers, took the stage; Ms. Irene Nantongo. “It is very wrong to state that RE is the sole savior for this beautiful continent”, she exclaimed. “What about conventional sources?” she expressed her dissatisfaction to the fact that such discussions come at a time when her beautiful country (Uganda) and other countries have discovered the “flowing wealth”- Oil. She stressed further that the motion is very wrong, citing examples of developed countries and how they never gave up on conventional energy. “Their energy mix is still dominated by fossils fuels, look at the US - conventional energies are still prominent in their energy mix!”. Intermittency of RE is a very big issue, “Does the sun shine every day?”, she asked. Considering the high cost of the RE technologies, a poor continent like mother Africa can’t take that route for now. She drew examples from some of the developed countries in Africa, alluding how clearly their energy mix is dominated by conventional energy. “Africa is rich in RE resources but we need to think wiser”- she submitted and left the floor.The second speaker from the opposers; Mr. Cleus Bamutura, took over the floor. “It is true Africa has the resources, but listen to these humbling facts - Africa’s share on the world total energy consumption is only 5%. Total energy consumed by Africa in one year is consumed by china in one month.” The question should not be sole savior but rather optimization of the different energy sources the continent has at its disposal. Through this, Africa’s energy problems will become history in no time. Our focus should be on setting up resilient energy systems and handling them sustainably. He went ahead to point out the doubtable reliability of renewables citing that they are season dependent. He criticized the debate motion mentioning that, the focus should be on looking for better energy systems rather than limiting our options to one energy source RE as the sole savior. He stated that reasons for dependency on RE are more of sustainability than cost. He further criticized the funding from the organisations alluding how there are many strings attached and that Africa needs to move forward without that. “Yes, RE drives to a direction of access to energy but the question we should ask ourselves is, energy for what?”, he submitted. Rebuttal from proposersOn the floor came the speaker from proposers, Mr. Yunus Alokore. “Human beings never moved from stone age because they ran out of stones”. This was a reaction to the opposers consistent pointing to the availability of conventional energy in Africa and how we can’t ignore them in preference to RE. He defended solar energy by giving a range of other RE sources like Geothermal and Wind that can be harnessed in tandem to overcome the problem of intermittency. Underscoring the Wind potential in Africa being equivalent to the current total installed capacity, and geothermal potential estimated at 15GW. He concluded that intermittency of RE should not be an issue once Africa embarks entirely on RE. Reactions from the audienceThe audience was given a chance to participate in this very engaging session. A lot was said but the contentious issue was the two words “sole savior”. The different speakers from the audience directed a lot of focus on this as they claimed Africa is plagued with a plethora of problems facing the energy sector ranging from poor governance to food insecurity. And hence it would be terribly wrong to single out a solo issue RE as the sole savior of the continent’s energy problems. In a nutshell, the debate was educative, entertaining and very informative. All the participants were satisfied with the richness of the discussions that gave them a detailed insight into Africa’s energy situation, resources and scenarios as well as proposed solutions to curb energy problems in the continent. The entire PAUWES community is looking forward to the next one. As the editorial team, we take this opportunity to thank the entire community for making this a success. @Editorial_team
    Apr 28, 2016 438
  • 10 Oct 2016
    I was thrilled after reading the International Renewable Energy Agency report on solar PV and its potential for full-scale investment in Africa. The report, published September 2016, indicated that rapid declining cost of the technology is likely to trigger a boom in the installation of solar PV in most parts of Africa. The report highlighted that the price of solar PV module had gone down to between USD 0.52 and USD 0.72/watt in 2015. Isn’t that good news? Not only the price of PV but the balance of system costs has also rapidly declined by a whopping 62% since 2009.  This has brought total installation costs to as low as USD 1.30/watt. The cost is projected to drop by another 52% by 2025. There are some promising projections on the Continent’s capability to invest in solar. IRENA predicts possibility of having a solar PV generation capacity of 70 GW by 2030. In addition, Africa receives more solar irradiation than some countries that have heavily invested in solar. For example, solar irradiation in Africa is 52% to 117% more than Germany although the country had an installed capacity of more than 40 GW by 2015 as indicated in the IRENA Renewables 2016 Global Status Report. The question now remains how we can turn the idea into reality. IRENA has indicated that a conducive environment with the right policies can lead to the achievement of the objective in the shortest time possible. This shows that the main emphasis is no longer about the cost, but about allowing the development to take place. Solar PV is unique as it has the potential to reach rural communities that are yet to be connected to the grid. Already, a number of countries have started initiatives aimed at improving energy access through solar. For instance, M-Kopa is a Kenyan initiative run by a private company that provides solar solutions through Pay-As-You-Go technology and services. Other private companies such as D.Light are also warming up to countries that have adequate regulations. It is also essential for young entrepreneurs throughout the African continent to warm up to the opportunity and create jobs as they push away energy poverty.   I urge you to consider the independence of being able to produce your own clean energy that minimizes or totally eliminates dependence on the grid.  I believe it is time to embrace solar energy for grid, off-grid, mini-grid, and hybrid electrification solutions. Cover photo: Courtesy Rwanda Solar Project 8.5 MW east of the capital Kigali
    377 Posted by Eric Akumu
  • I was thrilled after reading the International Renewable Energy Agency report on solar PV and its potential for full-scale investment in Africa. The report, published September 2016, indicated that rapid declining cost of the technology is likely to trigger a boom in the installation of solar PV in most parts of Africa. The report highlighted that the price of solar PV module had gone down to between USD 0.52 and USD 0.72/watt in 2015. Isn’t that good news? Not only the price of PV but the balance of system costs has also rapidly declined by a whopping 62% since 2009.  This has brought total installation costs to as low as USD 1.30/watt. The cost is projected to drop by another 52% by 2025. There are some promising projections on the Continent’s capability to invest in solar. IRENA predicts possibility of having a solar PV generation capacity of 70 GW by 2030. In addition, Africa receives more solar irradiation than some countries that have heavily invested in solar. For example, solar irradiation in Africa is 52% to 117% more than Germany although the country had an installed capacity of more than 40 GW by 2015 as indicated in the IRENA Renewables 2016 Global Status Report. The question now remains how we can turn the idea into reality. IRENA has indicated that a conducive environment with the right policies can lead to the achievement of the objective in the shortest time possible. This shows that the main emphasis is no longer about the cost, but about allowing the development to take place. Solar PV is unique as it has the potential to reach rural communities that are yet to be connected to the grid. Already, a number of countries have started initiatives aimed at improving energy access through solar. For instance, M-Kopa is a Kenyan initiative run by a private company that provides solar solutions through Pay-As-You-Go technology and services. Other private companies such as D.Light are also warming up to countries that have adequate regulations. It is also essential for young entrepreneurs throughout the African continent to warm up to the opportunity and create jobs as they push away energy poverty.   I urge you to consider the independence of being able to produce your own clean energy that minimizes or totally eliminates dependence on the grid.  I believe it is time to embrace solar energy for grid, off-grid, mini-grid, and hybrid electrification solutions. Cover photo: Courtesy Rwanda Solar Project 8.5 MW east of the capital Kigali
    Oct 10, 2016 377
  • 22 Aug 2016
    My name is Muthoni daughter of Kimonye and the Agaciku clan. Lately, I have been thinking deeply about whom I am and my identity as my father’s daughter and by extension as part of my community. I belong to the “house of Mumbi” which makes me a Kikuyu. I am named from my mother’s side of the family and my name Muthoni is derived from the name uthoni meaning “the place my father took dowry to get a wife.” Ironically, it is only my father that uses this name in my family. The Kikuyu believe that we all came from Mumbi and Gikuyu. They had 10 daughters but it was considered bad omen to count all your children so they referred to them as “nine daughters full” When the nine daughters reached marriageable age, Gikuyu and Mumbi could not find husbands for them so they made a sacrifice to Ngai who they believed lived on top of Mount Kenya or Kirinyaga as it was referred to back then. In response Ngai sent nine very handsome men to Gikuyu and so a tribe was born. The Kikuyu tribe is very matriarchal and all the clans that exist are named after one of the daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi. I learned all this in my lower primary classes but sadly I have forgotten most of it and frankly the older generation no longer speak of it. The blame does not lie with them entirely but with the younger generation as well who are no longer inquisitive about their own culture. See, the Kikuyu are known to be among the tribes that have almost completely abandoned their culture for westernization. We have still retained our culture in naming children and to some extent in carrying out the marriage ceremony. Our language has also evolved from one filled with proverbs and sayings into a much simpler plain language. Most times when I sit down with my elders I have to ask them to interpret some words because I have no clue what they mean and I assure you my case is not unique. Every tribe in Kenya and by extension Africa has a story that defines them and their culture. There may be similarities if they belong to the same family like the Bantu or Cushites and Nilotes but there is uniqueness in every one of them. The Kikuyu belong to the Bantu family and I always find it fascinating that I can understand some words spoken by other Bantu tribes from other African countries. Such uniqueness and likeness should be celebrated and passed from one generation to the other. Instead our differences in culture and religion have been mostly used to divide and cause harm to those thought to be different from us. Many people will tell you that the colonial period and the contact with the outside world is to blame for eroding our culture and beliefs. That may be true to some extent but I think we have not worked hard enough to retain our systems. In my culture, a child belonged to the clan and anyone could raise them. Young boys and girls went to their aunts and uncles to be taught the way of life and what their community expected of them. Disputes were settled by the elders of the clan and the grandfathers and mothers would pass on the cultural beliefs through story telling. We had our own religion but somehow we came to believe that what we believed in and practiced culturally was archaic and wrong. Staying true to who we are as a people does not mean we will live in isolation from the rest of the world. We have so much to offer and we should not allow outside influence to take that away from us. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations to stay true to who we are and keep our roots firmly in the ground. To ask the older generation questions until we figure out who we are and gain the confidence to share it with the rest of the world.
    494 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • My name is Muthoni daughter of Kimonye and the Agaciku clan. Lately, I have been thinking deeply about whom I am and my identity as my father’s daughter and by extension as part of my community. I belong to the “house of Mumbi” which makes me a Kikuyu. I am named from my mother’s side of the family and my name Muthoni is derived from the name uthoni meaning “the place my father took dowry to get a wife.” Ironically, it is only my father that uses this name in my family. The Kikuyu believe that we all came from Mumbi and Gikuyu. They had 10 daughters but it was considered bad omen to count all your children so they referred to them as “nine daughters full” When the nine daughters reached marriageable age, Gikuyu and Mumbi could not find husbands for them so they made a sacrifice to Ngai who they believed lived on top of Mount Kenya or Kirinyaga as it was referred to back then. In response Ngai sent nine very handsome men to Gikuyu and so a tribe was born. The Kikuyu tribe is very matriarchal and all the clans that exist are named after one of the daughters of Gikuyu and Mumbi. I learned all this in my lower primary classes but sadly I have forgotten most of it and frankly the older generation no longer speak of it. The blame does not lie with them entirely but with the younger generation as well who are no longer inquisitive about their own culture. See, the Kikuyu are known to be among the tribes that have almost completely abandoned their culture for westernization. We have still retained our culture in naming children and to some extent in carrying out the marriage ceremony. Our language has also evolved from one filled with proverbs and sayings into a much simpler plain language. Most times when I sit down with my elders I have to ask them to interpret some words because I have no clue what they mean and I assure you my case is not unique. Every tribe in Kenya and by extension Africa has a story that defines them and their culture. There may be similarities if they belong to the same family like the Bantu or Cushites and Nilotes but there is uniqueness in every one of them. The Kikuyu belong to the Bantu family and I always find it fascinating that I can understand some words spoken by other Bantu tribes from other African countries. Such uniqueness and likeness should be celebrated and passed from one generation to the other. Instead our differences in culture and religion have been mostly used to divide and cause harm to those thought to be different from us. Many people will tell you that the colonial period and the contact with the outside world is to blame for eroding our culture and beliefs. That may be true to some extent but I think we have not worked hard enough to retain our systems. In my culture, a child belonged to the clan and anyone could raise them. Young boys and girls went to their aunts and uncles to be taught the way of life and what their community expected of them. Disputes were settled by the elders of the clan and the grandfathers and mothers would pass on the cultural beliefs through story telling. We had our own religion but somehow we came to believe that what we believed in and practiced culturally was archaic and wrong. Staying true to who we are as a people does not mean we will live in isolation from the rest of the world. We have so much to offer and we should not allow outside influence to take that away from us. We owe it to ourselves and the future generations to stay true to who we are and keep our roots firmly in the ground. To ask the older generation questions until we figure out who we are and gain the confidence to share it with the rest of the world.
    Aug 22, 2016 494