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  • 14 Mar 2016
    I have had a bit of trouble deciding on the topic for this week’s entry, not because I have run out of topics (far from it) but because with the symposium my mind has been overly stimulated to really settle down on one thing. I am thankful however, that this was accidentally decided for me when we went out for dinner with some colleagues and friends and our main discussion for the night became climate change and most specifically the need for behavior change if mitigation and adaptation measures are to be successful.   What I want to concentrate on is my dilemma on how efforts for mitigation and adaptation are going to be successful when decisions are being made at the top with no participation from those at the bottom especially in the African setting. Scientists and researchers have been able to come up with so much information and data on climate change in the last decades but unfortunately no one is decoding this scientific data into a language that the common man and most elite understand. Farmers, fishermen and pastoralists have all noticed a decline in either their yields or stock but most of them cannot directly attribute this to climate change.   The biggest challenge in the implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures is lack of ownership which is supposed to drive behavioral change. Every individual who inhabits planet earth needs to realize that we are all contributing to the emissions that continue to lead to climate variability and change. Simply put we are not living sustainably! I will admit that the concept of climate change is overwhelming even for me but If we can all do the best we can in living sustainably like cycle instead of driving, use public transport instead of private cars, recycle waste or water, turn off the lights or use natural products instead of those that are processed it will have a ripple benefit effect to the environment.   On the other hand we have to consider the societal and cultural norms that we are faced with especially here in Africa. Owning a car is considered as a sign of success while many think cycling is for the poor or the athletic. So how do you convince such societies to try public transport? Like a friend said public transport needs to be made attractive and you can only do that by making it reliable, secure and efficient. The public leaders and servants need to step out of their tinted, air conditioned fuel guzzling cars and live by example. This will only not help in the reduction of emissions but it will see a reduction in the amount of time and money lost in traffic jams.   I will admit the concept of sustainable development especially when coming from the west sounds hypocritical. What is to make Africa and other developing countries buy into this idea if the western economies unsustainably exploited resources to get their economies where they are. Even today most of the raw materials used in western factories come from the developing countries and the means of exploitation leave a lot to be desired. Africa provides a large market for products manufactured in the west like cars and processed goods and do not get me started on the dumping of e waste in the guise of donations. But we cannot afford to make this a blame game on who is doing this or that. When the sky falls like one of our colleagues stated it will fall on everyone.     I could go on and on about what I think is double talk and walk by the different stakeholders in regards to climate change but that is neither here nor there. What we need is to bring everyone on board and have a candid talk on the eventual consequences of our unsustainable living maybe not on us but the future generations. Farmers and pastoralists need to know that the long drought spells and unpredictable rainfall patterns are not a punishment form God but a result of emissions which they have contributed to even in the smallest of percentages. We need to provide alternatives like access to affordable renewable energy if the call to sustainable living is to be embraced. We cannot continue to heavily subsidize fossil fuels and expect the world to embrace renewable technologies. Companies that heavily emit green house gases need to be heavily taxed or closed down(drastic I know) and held accountable for their role in green house gases emissions. Banning of some products from our markets or closing down some markets only creates room for innovation and new discoveries.    If we all take it as our duty to act as stewards of this lovely planet and hold each other accountable we may not reverse the damage that has already been done but we will halt the acceleration of climate change. Until then we can continue attending conferences and conventions and even talk ourselves hoarse but nothing meaningful will come out of any of these if we do not believe we have a personal role to play.     The story of the humming bird by Prof Wangari Mathai, 2oo4 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate  The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can. In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’ But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’ And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet go down the drain. I will be a hummingbird; I will do the best I can.  
    1145 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I have had a bit of trouble deciding on the topic for this week’s entry, not because I have run out of topics (far from it) but because with the symposium my mind has been overly stimulated to really settle down on one thing. I am thankful however, that this was accidentally decided for me when we went out for dinner with some colleagues and friends and our main discussion for the night became climate change and most specifically the need for behavior change if mitigation and adaptation measures are to be successful.   What I want to concentrate on is my dilemma on how efforts for mitigation and adaptation are going to be successful when decisions are being made at the top with no participation from those at the bottom especially in the African setting. Scientists and researchers have been able to come up with so much information and data on climate change in the last decades but unfortunately no one is decoding this scientific data into a language that the common man and most elite understand. Farmers, fishermen and pastoralists have all noticed a decline in either their yields or stock but most of them cannot directly attribute this to climate change.   The biggest challenge in the implementation of mitigation and adaptation measures is lack of ownership which is supposed to drive behavioral change. Every individual who inhabits planet earth needs to realize that we are all contributing to the emissions that continue to lead to climate variability and change. Simply put we are not living sustainably! I will admit that the concept of climate change is overwhelming even for me but If we can all do the best we can in living sustainably like cycle instead of driving, use public transport instead of private cars, recycle waste or water, turn off the lights or use natural products instead of those that are processed it will have a ripple benefit effect to the environment.   On the other hand we have to consider the societal and cultural norms that we are faced with especially here in Africa. Owning a car is considered as a sign of success while many think cycling is for the poor or the athletic. So how do you convince such societies to try public transport? Like a friend said public transport needs to be made attractive and you can only do that by making it reliable, secure and efficient. The public leaders and servants need to step out of their tinted, air conditioned fuel guzzling cars and live by example. This will only not help in the reduction of emissions but it will see a reduction in the amount of time and money lost in traffic jams.   I will admit the concept of sustainable development especially when coming from the west sounds hypocritical. What is to make Africa and other developing countries buy into this idea if the western economies unsustainably exploited resources to get their economies where they are. Even today most of the raw materials used in western factories come from the developing countries and the means of exploitation leave a lot to be desired. Africa provides a large market for products manufactured in the west like cars and processed goods and do not get me started on the dumping of e waste in the guise of donations. But we cannot afford to make this a blame game on who is doing this or that. When the sky falls like one of our colleagues stated it will fall on everyone.     I could go on and on about what I think is double talk and walk by the different stakeholders in regards to climate change but that is neither here nor there. What we need is to bring everyone on board and have a candid talk on the eventual consequences of our unsustainable living maybe not on us but the future generations. Farmers and pastoralists need to know that the long drought spells and unpredictable rainfall patterns are not a punishment form God but a result of emissions which they have contributed to even in the smallest of percentages. We need to provide alternatives like access to affordable renewable energy if the call to sustainable living is to be embraced. We cannot continue to heavily subsidize fossil fuels and expect the world to embrace renewable technologies. Companies that heavily emit green house gases need to be heavily taxed or closed down(drastic I know) and held accountable for their role in green house gases emissions. Banning of some products from our markets or closing down some markets only creates room for innovation and new discoveries.    If we all take it as our duty to act as stewards of this lovely planet and hold each other accountable we may not reverse the damage that has already been done but we will halt the acceleration of climate change. Until then we can continue attending conferences and conventions and even talk ourselves hoarse but nothing meaningful will come out of any of these if we do not believe we have a personal role to play.     The story of the humming bird by Prof Wangari Mathai, 2oo4 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate  The story of the hummingbird is about this huge forest being consumed by a fire. All the animals in the forest come out and they are transfixed as they watch the forest burning and they feel very overwhelmed, very powerless, except this little hummingbird. It says, ‘I’m going to do something about the fire!’ So it flies to the nearest stream and takes a drop of water. It puts it on the fire, and goes up and down, up and down, up and down, as fast as it can. In the meantime all the other animals, much bigger animals like the elephant with a big trunk that could bring much more water, are standing there helpless. And they are saying to the hummingbird, ‘What do you think you can do? You are too little. This fire is too big. Your wings are too little and your beak is so small that you can only bring a small drop of water at a time.’ But as they continue to discourage it, it turns to them without wasting any time and it tells them, ‘I am doing the best I can.’ And that to me is what all of us should do. We should always be like a hummingbird. I may be insignificant, but I certainly don’t want to be like the animals watching the planet go down the drain. I will be a hummingbird; I will do the best I can.  
    Mar 14, 2016 1145
  • 04 Jun 2016
    After my first blog, I went and did more research based on the feedback I got from readers. One thing that came out is that most were skeptical on the possibility of EVs – electric cars – taking over the mobility industry. I do not want to convince you; I just want you to reason with me. I have a lot to share with regards to electromobility; this is because I view EVs as part of disruptive technologies that will change our current ‘normal’ in the near future. Recently I followed through videos of the Swedbank Nordic Energy Summit in Oslo, Norway, that was held on March this year. I was particularly captivated by one Tony Seba’s Keynote presentation on Clean Disruption. He expounded clearly on disruptive technologies and how they will affect energy and transportation in the near future. He also pointed out that the experts often get it wrong as they give predictions that are later made obsolete by disruptive technologies. I believe you have come across some of infamous quotes made by renowned people that were later disapproved. Check out some of the ‘Expert’ Disruption Forecasts: “The internet will catastrophically collapse in 1996.” Robert Metcalfe, 1995  “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977 "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943. “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” — President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903. "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -- Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876. You notice that it’s usually the ‘experts’ and ‘insiders’ who dismiss Disruptive Opportunities. Take this elaborate example. In the mid-1980s, AT&T hired McKinsey & Co to forecast cell phone adoption by the year 2000. Their prediction was 900,000. The low number made AT&T believe their landline business would prosper, therefore, ignored entering the mobile phone business. However, it was off by a whopping 120 times. The actual number in the year 2000 was 109 million. This means that AT&T missed out on multi-trillion-dollar opportunity by ignoring cell phone business.   I wonder why smart people are the ones that consistently fail to anticipate or lead market disruption. Disruption has occurred in the past, and it is in the course of happening now. Recently, the entry of smartphone not only affected the mobile phone industry such as kicking Nokia and the like out of the market, but is currently affecting the banking, marketing, and several other sectors. Although smartphones were expensive compared to the mainstream, its superior nature made it attractive to the market. The technology cost curve then decreased making it the preferred gadget over other phones. Let’s look at Uber; a technology that is currently leading a market disruption that is likely to affect the concept of car ownership globally. Its taking a bottom-up approach and the smartphone is essential in assisting in the disruption. Compared to taxis, Uber is cheaper, better, faster, and customizable. That is the reason it has been able to spread faster globally even though it is based on a rather simple business model. It hit the industry so hard to an extent that taxi business owners in some parts of the world protested bitterly. The main contention when it comes to EVs is the energy storage and the mileage after charge. There are several battery mega factories that are coming up such as Tesla and BYD. Besides reduced costs, the energy storage density will also improve. It is very similar to the evolution of the smartphones; within a short-time, several other companies came on board driving the prices down while at the same time, improving the technology. One may argue that it is not right to compare disruption in the car industry to that of the mobile phones. But we have never experienced the dominance of electric cars on our roads. One thing I admire is the exponential growth of technologies that support the EV industry.  Besides energy storage, there are advancement towards autonomous driving that many are still skeptical about. There are ongoing trials in most parts of the developed world with Germany, Spain and the Netherlands allowing testing robotic cars in traffic. In addition, cities in France, Belgium, Italy and the UK planning to operate transport systems for driverless cars. I was surprised to find out that the cost of producing the sensor needed to facilitate autonomous driving dropped from $70,000 in 2012 to $250 in 2016. It’s difficult to explain such drastic drop in prices. I look at it as a result of amalgamation of different improving technologies that make the final product better but cheap. The same case applies to EVs, by 2019, several companies hope to produce cars selling for $20,000 with shorter time for charging and longer mileage. I guess I have written much about EVs already. Although predicting the future is not easy, I hope looking at disruptive technologies in general has given you a picture of what is bound to happen.  Please note that Stone Age did not end due to lack of rocks, but because disruptive technology led to Bronze Age. Currently, the world is used to a centralized, extraction-resource-based energy sources such as oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. However, such will be disrupted by superior technologies that have better business models. With regards to EVs, TESLA Model S was chosen as the best car ever by the American consumers in 2013. It is currently the best-selling high-end large luxury car beating leaders such as Rolls-Royce, BMW, Audi and Chevy Equinox. Looking into the future, if the business model adopted by Uber and the autonomous driving of EVs become part of our future, there will be no need to own a car, and therefore need for parking spaces as vehicles will be in constant motion unless charging.
    930 Posted by Eric Akumu
  • After my first blog, I went and did more research based on the feedback I got from readers. One thing that came out is that most were skeptical on the possibility of EVs – electric cars – taking over the mobility industry. I do not want to convince you; I just want you to reason with me. I have a lot to share with regards to electromobility; this is because I view EVs as part of disruptive technologies that will change our current ‘normal’ in the near future. Recently I followed through videos of the Swedbank Nordic Energy Summit in Oslo, Norway, that was held on March this year. I was particularly captivated by one Tony Seba’s Keynote presentation on Clean Disruption. He expounded clearly on disruptive technologies and how they will affect energy and transportation in the near future. He also pointed out that the experts often get it wrong as they give predictions that are later made obsolete by disruptive technologies. I believe you have come across some of infamous quotes made by renowned people that were later disapproved. Check out some of the ‘Expert’ Disruption Forecasts: “The internet will catastrophically collapse in 1996.” Robert Metcalfe, 1995  “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977 "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943. “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty – a fad.” — President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer, Horace Rackham, not to invest in the Ford Motor Company, 1903. "The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys." -- Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876. You notice that it’s usually the ‘experts’ and ‘insiders’ who dismiss Disruptive Opportunities. Take this elaborate example. In the mid-1980s, AT&T hired McKinsey & Co to forecast cell phone adoption by the year 2000. Their prediction was 900,000. The low number made AT&T believe their landline business would prosper, therefore, ignored entering the mobile phone business. However, it was off by a whopping 120 times. The actual number in the year 2000 was 109 million. This means that AT&T missed out on multi-trillion-dollar opportunity by ignoring cell phone business.   I wonder why smart people are the ones that consistently fail to anticipate or lead market disruption. Disruption has occurred in the past, and it is in the course of happening now. Recently, the entry of smartphone not only affected the mobile phone industry such as kicking Nokia and the like out of the market, but is currently affecting the banking, marketing, and several other sectors. Although smartphones were expensive compared to the mainstream, its superior nature made it attractive to the market. The technology cost curve then decreased making it the preferred gadget over other phones. Let’s look at Uber; a technology that is currently leading a market disruption that is likely to affect the concept of car ownership globally. Its taking a bottom-up approach and the smartphone is essential in assisting in the disruption. Compared to taxis, Uber is cheaper, better, faster, and customizable. That is the reason it has been able to spread faster globally even though it is based on a rather simple business model. It hit the industry so hard to an extent that taxi business owners in some parts of the world protested bitterly. The main contention when it comes to EVs is the energy storage and the mileage after charge. There are several battery mega factories that are coming up such as Tesla and BYD. Besides reduced costs, the energy storage density will also improve. It is very similar to the evolution of the smartphones; within a short-time, several other companies came on board driving the prices down while at the same time, improving the technology. One may argue that it is not right to compare disruption in the car industry to that of the mobile phones. But we have never experienced the dominance of electric cars on our roads. One thing I admire is the exponential growth of technologies that support the EV industry.  Besides energy storage, there are advancement towards autonomous driving that many are still skeptical about. There are ongoing trials in most parts of the developed world with Germany, Spain and the Netherlands allowing testing robotic cars in traffic. In addition, cities in France, Belgium, Italy and the UK planning to operate transport systems for driverless cars. I was surprised to find out that the cost of producing the sensor needed to facilitate autonomous driving dropped from $70,000 in 2012 to $250 in 2016. It’s difficult to explain such drastic drop in prices. I look at it as a result of amalgamation of different improving technologies that make the final product better but cheap. The same case applies to EVs, by 2019, several companies hope to produce cars selling for $20,000 with shorter time for charging and longer mileage. I guess I have written much about EVs already. Although predicting the future is not easy, I hope looking at disruptive technologies in general has given you a picture of what is bound to happen.  Please note that Stone Age did not end due to lack of rocks, but because disruptive technology led to Bronze Age. Currently, the world is used to a centralized, extraction-resource-based energy sources such as oil, gas, coal, and nuclear. However, such will be disrupted by superior technologies that have better business models. With regards to EVs, TESLA Model S was chosen as the best car ever by the American consumers in 2013. It is currently the best-selling high-end large luxury car beating leaders such as Rolls-Royce, BMW, Audi and Chevy Equinox. Looking into the future, if the business model adopted by Uber and the autonomous driving of EVs become part of our future, there will be no need to own a car, and therefore need for parking spaces as vehicles will be in constant motion unless charging.
    Jun 04, 2016 930
  • 08 Mar 2016
    I wonder when ethnic groups realized they were different, not because of their culture or practices but because of the color of their skin. When did skin color become more important than the blood that flows in our veins and when did the inner spirit that truly defines a person become second class? The emergence of the word race dates back to 17th century and is mostly used to categorize people primarily by their physical differences. I wonder who coined the word. I can imagine them sitting down in a dark room, smoking their pipes and sipping their fine scotch as they decided that the color of the skin, hair texture and facial features defined a man and his superiority. They must have had a water tight strategy because the propaganda spread like wildfire. It is no wonder the cosmetics industry has capitalized on this; there are countless lightening products in the market today and the buyers are not lacking. Think of all man has done, found cure to deadly diseases, travelled out of space, survived wars and natural disasters and yet he is unable to reconcile himself to the fact that he is one species; the human race. Not white, yellow, red, black, brown or whatever other classification you want to use. He is one species and we are all members of it I trust we have all watched or read the news on racial hate attacks or profiling. I used to think it cannot be that bad. The victims could rise beyond the hate, develop a hard skin and move on. After all, sticks and stones can break your bones but words cannot hurt you. Oh how terribly wrong I was, because when I came to be on the receiving end of the racial slur all I wanted to do was to crawl in a hole and hide. I wondered how someone could look at me and see an inferior being, a la couleur or even worse use the N word. I dreaded going out because it felt like I was walking into a lion’s den, I could feel the stares, feel them get ready to pounce as I walked on the streets and as if not ones to disappoint the shouts and crude remarks would start. I cannot tell you how many times I felt defiled or like a lesser human being.   I remember calling my best friend and bemoaning of how miserable and lonely I felt and I will never forget the words she said to me because they redefined my outlook on life here. She told me it would be a shame to live in a new country for two years and not know a soul. Hate is everywhere she argued but taking the victim role did not make me the better person. I had to reach out and open my heart to the new environment and the people. I thought she was crazy but I gave it a try and I have found acceptance for who I am and that somehow drowns the hate.   I will admit that I have gotten better at ignoring the shouts and the crude remarks. Maybe I have developed a thicker skin or I have come to the acceptance that every society has its rotten eggs. There are times I want to shout at the top of my voice or hit something or someone but that would only reinforce their belief that I am crazy plus I do not want to break my hand. So I ignore every word and go my way as if it doesn’t matter. But I still have questions, what resides in a heart that spews such venom or don’t they know it hurts? I am human too, I hurt and I crave for acceptance regardless of my skin color or my kinky hair. I bleed red, I breath oxygenand I am vulnerable with a heart that breaks just as easily. Yet in all these hate, I have found hope in the welcoming faces of total strangers and formed new friendships and I have learnt to never apologize for who I am because there can never be a more beautiful me.  
    1766 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • I wonder when ethnic groups realized they were different, not because of their culture or practices but because of the color of their skin. When did skin color become more important than the blood that flows in our veins and when did the inner spirit that truly defines a person become second class? The emergence of the word race dates back to 17th century and is mostly used to categorize people primarily by their physical differences. I wonder who coined the word. I can imagine them sitting down in a dark room, smoking their pipes and sipping their fine scotch as they decided that the color of the skin, hair texture and facial features defined a man and his superiority. They must have had a water tight strategy because the propaganda spread like wildfire. It is no wonder the cosmetics industry has capitalized on this; there are countless lightening products in the market today and the buyers are not lacking. Think of all man has done, found cure to deadly diseases, travelled out of space, survived wars and natural disasters and yet he is unable to reconcile himself to the fact that he is one species; the human race. Not white, yellow, red, black, brown or whatever other classification you want to use. He is one species and we are all members of it I trust we have all watched or read the news on racial hate attacks or profiling. I used to think it cannot be that bad. The victims could rise beyond the hate, develop a hard skin and move on. After all, sticks and stones can break your bones but words cannot hurt you. Oh how terribly wrong I was, because when I came to be on the receiving end of the racial slur all I wanted to do was to crawl in a hole and hide. I wondered how someone could look at me and see an inferior being, a la couleur or even worse use the N word. I dreaded going out because it felt like I was walking into a lion’s den, I could feel the stares, feel them get ready to pounce as I walked on the streets and as if not ones to disappoint the shouts and crude remarks would start. I cannot tell you how many times I felt defiled or like a lesser human being.   I remember calling my best friend and bemoaning of how miserable and lonely I felt and I will never forget the words she said to me because they redefined my outlook on life here. She told me it would be a shame to live in a new country for two years and not know a soul. Hate is everywhere she argued but taking the victim role did not make me the better person. I had to reach out and open my heart to the new environment and the people. I thought she was crazy but I gave it a try and I have found acceptance for who I am and that somehow drowns the hate.   I will admit that I have gotten better at ignoring the shouts and the crude remarks. Maybe I have developed a thicker skin or I have come to the acceptance that every society has its rotten eggs. There are times I want to shout at the top of my voice or hit something or someone but that would only reinforce their belief that I am crazy plus I do not want to break my hand. So I ignore every word and go my way as if it doesn’t matter. But I still have questions, what resides in a heart that spews such venom or don’t they know it hurts? I am human too, I hurt and I crave for acceptance regardless of my skin color or my kinky hair. I bleed red, I breath oxygenand I am vulnerable with a heart that breaks just as easily. Yet in all these hate, I have found hope in the welcoming faces of total strangers and formed new friendships and I have learnt to never apologize for who I am because there can never be a more beautiful me.  
    Mar 08, 2016 1766
  • 21 Mar 2016
      I am a lover of history and you can say my love started some years back when I got the opportunity to study post independent African and European history in deep detail. I felt like I was getting a free tour through time and I could clearly see the chronology of events that have shaped our world to what it is today. However, regardless of how much I love history it also makes me angry and sad for mankind. This was my feeling when I took a course in African History late last year. I felt so frustrated and angry and that only bled into a feeling of helplessness and resignation.   Mama Africa, a beautiful continent rich in human, culture and natural resources yet mostly known for hunger ,civil wars, corruption and dysfunctional governments. It is like we are the joke of the world and we do not even realize it. I know that my short essay cannot do the political dynamics of Africa justice but you will agree with me that there is a common theme in all countries as far as politics are concern. We have leaders who are high on power and a people who are so busy trying to survive that they do not realize that they are being taken for a ride. I do not know when the rain started beating us but it has hit us hard.   There was so much hope after gaining independence but it now seems like that candle has burnt out. The promise of freedom and self governance was what bound us together and saw the freedom fighters through the dark days. The promise of turning that dream into reality was what made most of the leaders get elected into office. Yet those we elected to power have turned democratic positions into monarchies. Power seems like a more potent drug in Africa than anywhere else in the world. That Promised Land is still a mirage many decades after independence.   Every government has a responsibility to provide basic services to its citizens. Access to affordable health care, food, education, security and any other social service is not a privilege but a right. If you pay tax then you have the right to demand better services. Yet this is not the case in most African countries. We get surprised when services are provided and think it is normal for civil servants to steal from public funds. We defend those who steal from us in the name of ethnic and tribal lines and so we elect them back to office year in year out. We stand blindly behind those who commit crimes against humanity in the name of loyalty. We are easily bought.   I think the middle class is what ails this continent. We are so comfortable with our fancy lives that politics is no longer our thing. If the government cannot provide a service to us we go for private providers. We do not go to public hospitals anymore because they do not have the human resource or medicine; we take our children to private schools because the quality of education in public schools is so poor it is near collapse. We use private means of transport because public transport is chaotic and inefficient. I could go on and on. The icing on the cake is we do not vote because who has the time to make long queues only to vote in another dysfunctional government. So we have left the fate of our countries to the poor. I know what you are thinking, but the poor have rights too! I couldn’t agree more but they have also been turned into puppets by the political class; politics of the belly. Their votes are bought for a piece of bread or a packet of maize flour. This is what we have left our fate to; a greedy political class and a hungry population.   Many will argue that African countries are young in their democracy and I am no political analyst. However, the situation seems to have become worse than it was when we gained independence. We are the first to shout that the west should not interfere with African affairs and yet we lap on the crumbs they feed us. You think that’s crude? There is much more where that came from. We have the ability to be self sufficient; we can feed our people and educate our children. Provide basic medical care for pregnant women and infants. We can stand up against injustice and poor quality of services. The middle class should come off its high horse and help sensitize the poor on the power they hold in their votes. Just because the ruling party is from your region or tribe does not put food on your table. We need to shift from the “me mentality” and realize we are so much stronger together. That everything we need has been within our reach all along.
    628 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  •   I am a lover of history and you can say my love started some years back when I got the opportunity to study post independent African and European history in deep detail. I felt like I was getting a free tour through time and I could clearly see the chronology of events that have shaped our world to what it is today. However, regardless of how much I love history it also makes me angry and sad for mankind. This was my feeling when I took a course in African History late last year. I felt so frustrated and angry and that only bled into a feeling of helplessness and resignation.   Mama Africa, a beautiful continent rich in human, culture and natural resources yet mostly known for hunger ,civil wars, corruption and dysfunctional governments. It is like we are the joke of the world and we do not even realize it. I know that my short essay cannot do the political dynamics of Africa justice but you will agree with me that there is a common theme in all countries as far as politics are concern. We have leaders who are high on power and a people who are so busy trying to survive that they do not realize that they are being taken for a ride. I do not know when the rain started beating us but it has hit us hard.   There was so much hope after gaining independence but it now seems like that candle has burnt out. The promise of freedom and self governance was what bound us together and saw the freedom fighters through the dark days. The promise of turning that dream into reality was what made most of the leaders get elected into office. Yet those we elected to power have turned democratic positions into monarchies. Power seems like a more potent drug in Africa than anywhere else in the world. That Promised Land is still a mirage many decades after independence.   Every government has a responsibility to provide basic services to its citizens. Access to affordable health care, food, education, security and any other social service is not a privilege but a right. If you pay tax then you have the right to demand better services. Yet this is not the case in most African countries. We get surprised when services are provided and think it is normal for civil servants to steal from public funds. We defend those who steal from us in the name of ethnic and tribal lines and so we elect them back to office year in year out. We stand blindly behind those who commit crimes against humanity in the name of loyalty. We are easily bought.   I think the middle class is what ails this continent. We are so comfortable with our fancy lives that politics is no longer our thing. If the government cannot provide a service to us we go for private providers. We do not go to public hospitals anymore because they do not have the human resource or medicine; we take our children to private schools because the quality of education in public schools is so poor it is near collapse. We use private means of transport because public transport is chaotic and inefficient. I could go on and on. The icing on the cake is we do not vote because who has the time to make long queues only to vote in another dysfunctional government. So we have left the fate of our countries to the poor. I know what you are thinking, but the poor have rights too! I couldn’t agree more but they have also been turned into puppets by the political class; politics of the belly. Their votes are bought for a piece of bread or a packet of maize flour. This is what we have left our fate to; a greedy political class and a hungry population.   Many will argue that African countries are young in their democracy and I am no political analyst. However, the situation seems to have become worse than it was when we gained independence. We are the first to shout that the west should not interfere with African affairs and yet we lap on the crumbs they feed us. You think that’s crude? There is much more where that came from. We have the ability to be self sufficient; we can feed our people and educate our children. Provide basic medical care for pregnant women and infants. We can stand up against injustice and poor quality of services. The middle class should come off its high horse and help sensitize the poor on the power they hold in their votes. Just because the ruling party is from your region or tribe does not put food on your table. We need to shift from the “me mentality” and realize we are so much stronger together. That everything we need has been within our reach all along.
    Mar 21, 2016 628
  • 10 Apr 2016
    In a bid to fight global warming, reduction of emissions to the atmosphere was cited to be the most impeccable solution. Many techniques and scientific innovations have been put up by some of the world’s brilliant minds, ranging from creating all sorts of electric vehicles to converting carbon dioxide to concrete through the intervention of 3-D printing. Very interesting and truly inspiring, isn’t it? Well my innovation is also in the pipeline, I saw what global warming did to the ice cover in Antarctica and how that white bear was suffering. The point is everyone has a role to play, It’s either we stand now and fight global warming or our grandchildren live amid the direful calamities of the time.There are various ways in which companies are endeavoring to reduce the carbon footprint, as stated of particular interest in this article are the electric vehicles. What are they? Do they work when power goes off? Are they the heaven sent solution for the world’s emissions problem and hence warming of the globe? During the spring school in Germany, I and fellow energy students had an opportunity to attend a presentation by one of the electric vehicle (EV) specialists from Ford, I must say it was one of the best I have ever had about cars, one of those presentations where you feel everything has been driven home thoroughly and in the end the only question you’d ask is, “How are you?” – You know what am talking about. Some of the important points to note about EVs other than being expensive is, they’re of different types; Hybrid Electric, Plug-in Hybrid Electric, Battery Electric and Fuel Cell Electric. Those with hybrid systems use both gasoline and electricity while those without use electricity entirely and for that matter you need some charging. As I mentioned earlier these cars are quite not cheap until recently when Tesla, one of the company gurus in the EV field unveiled the Tesla Model 3 Electric car. It is said that this is the cheapest of its kind and goes for 35,000 USD. More than 200,000 customers forwarded orders, it’s cheap after all- its ok you might want to disagree with me on that. This is good news for the company (definitely they're making profits) and the world at large because at least the prices of the EVs are falling to the ones seemingly affordable.Back ground check, according to IPCC the transportation sector (14%) is in the fourth position after industry sector (21%), agriculture and land use (24%), electricity and heat production (25%) respectively, among the contributors to the global greenhouse gas emissions. I believe by these figures you can imagine how much emissions EVs are saving this beautiful world. Well you might need to rethink meticulously through it, now one would argue it out and jump to a conclusion that they don't use oil, and hence they're clean. But remember, you have to charge them and you need electricity to do that. What are the sources of that electricity for charging? Don't EVs fortify the need for more energy to fuel them? Doesn't this have an impact on the amount of fossil fuels like coal to be burnt to support the growing industry? I mean processing and manufacturing of all the kinds of cells and the vehicle materials, how much more emissions are produced? Should we say that all these emissions are compensated by the time they spend in use after manufacture? And if so, are we not biting our tails? Yes, EVs do probably contribute to the reduction of emissions but to what extent? It's possible that a bigger carbon footprint is left by these cars in the long run than the conventional cars. Let's say that is true, aren't there ways to perhaps reduce the emissions by the conventional cars and making them more efficient? May be there is or may be there isn't but it’s challenging to know now because the focus of the world on such is being shifted and oriented towards more lucrative choices. It's not evil but if in any case it involves sacrificing the generation of our children and grandchildren for profitable choices now, then it is. I think our main focus as the world should be on how to change the energy sources and use environmentally friendly sources, along with finding efficient ways to use the available energy other than looking for more ways to consume it. It’s important that we don't jump the queue of the energy chain. “I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it” – Abraham Lincoln, I hope this write up triggers some good thinking in you about Electric cars. tonnykukeera@gmail.com@editorial_team
    935 Posted by Tonny Kukeera
  • In a bid to fight global warming, reduction of emissions to the atmosphere was cited to be the most impeccable solution. Many techniques and scientific innovations have been put up by some of the world’s brilliant minds, ranging from creating all sorts of electric vehicles to converting carbon dioxide to concrete through the intervention of 3-D printing. Very interesting and truly inspiring, isn’t it? Well my innovation is also in the pipeline, I saw what global warming did to the ice cover in Antarctica and how that white bear was suffering. The point is everyone has a role to play, It’s either we stand now and fight global warming or our grandchildren live amid the direful calamities of the time.There are various ways in which companies are endeavoring to reduce the carbon footprint, as stated of particular interest in this article are the electric vehicles. What are they? Do they work when power goes off? Are they the heaven sent solution for the world’s emissions problem and hence warming of the globe? During the spring school in Germany, I and fellow energy students had an opportunity to attend a presentation by one of the electric vehicle (EV) specialists from Ford, I must say it was one of the best I have ever had about cars, one of those presentations where you feel everything has been driven home thoroughly and in the end the only question you’d ask is, “How are you?” – You know what am talking about. Some of the important points to note about EVs other than being expensive is, they’re of different types; Hybrid Electric, Plug-in Hybrid Electric, Battery Electric and Fuel Cell Electric. Those with hybrid systems use both gasoline and electricity while those without use electricity entirely and for that matter you need some charging. As I mentioned earlier these cars are quite not cheap until recently when Tesla, one of the company gurus in the EV field unveiled the Tesla Model 3 Electric car. It is said that this is the cheapest of its kind and goes for 35,000 USD. More than 200,000 customers forwarded orders, it’s cheap after all- its ok you might want to disagree with me on that. This is good news for the company (definitely they're making profits) and the world at large because at least the prices of the EVs are falling to the ones seemingly affordable.Back ground check, according to IPCC the transportation sector (14%) is in the fourth position after industry sector (21%), agriculture and land use (24%), electricity and heat production (25%) respectively, among the contributors to the global greenhouse gas emissions. I believe by these figures you can imagine how much emissions EVs are saving this beautiful world. Well you might need to rethink meticulously through it, now one would argue it out and jump to a conclusion that they don't use oil, and hence they're clean. But remember, you have to charge them and you need electricity to do that. What are the sources of that electricity for charging? Don't EVs fortify the need for more energy to fuel them? Doesn't this have an impact on the amount of fossil fuels like coal to be burnt to support the growing industry? I mean processing and manufacturing of all the kinds of cells and the vehicle materials, how much more emissions are produced? Should we say that all these emissions are compensated by the time they spend in use after manufacture? And if so, are we not biting our tails? Yes, EVs do probably contribute to the reduction of emissions but to what extent? It's possible that a bigger carbon footprint is left by these cars in the long run than the conventional cars. Let's say that is true, aren't there ways to perhaps reduce the emissions by the conventional cars and making them more efficient? May be there is or may be there isn't but it’s challenging to know now because the focus of the world on such is being shifted and oriented towards more lucrative choices. It's not evil but if in any case it involves sacrificing the generation of our children and grandchildren for profitable choices now, then it is. I think our main focus as the world should be on how to change the energy sources and use environmentally friendly sources, along with finding efficient ways to use the available energy other than looking for more ways to consume it. It’s important that we don't jump the queue of the energy chain. “I am very little inclined on any occasion to say anything unless I hope to produce some good by it” – Abraham Lincoln, I hope this write up triggers some good thinking in you about Electric cars. tonnykukeera@gmail.com@editorial_team
    Apr 10, 2016 935
  • 25 Apr 2016
    Is Africa a country? Do you live in the forest and my all time favorite do I live with lions (to be honest we have had a few lions escape the National park in Nairobi and taken to the streets).I am sure at one point in time you have had these bizarre questions posed to you. There are times I have wondered if I should dignify such ignorance with an answer and sometimes I have rolled my eyes to the back of my head. You would be forgiven to think we are still living in the Stone Age and not in the 21st Century where information is at our fingertips.    Half the world believes we are a continent of war and hunger. And who can blame them when that is all the media shows them. Naked little children carrying empty bowls with flies covering their dirty faces and women holding on to emaciated babies making long lines to get food rations. If you watch cable TV I am sure you have seen the countless commercials asking viewers to send dollars to some organization and help save a life! We are a continent in constant need of saving and feeding. Poor Africans! It is funny how some these organizations have come to capitalize on this level of ignorance. I believe the reason as to why we are branded as a continent of misery is because there is money to be made. So they tell our sob stories and in return they get their pockets lined with money by well wishers. You would think with all the charitable organizations camping in our countries our troubles would be over but nope! We are still stuck in the vicious cycle of begging and receiving.   To be honest such questions and statement used to irk me to no end but they do not bother me anymore. If someone is too lazy to use Miss Google then I am more than happy to educate them. For starters Africa is not a country but a continent with 54 states. Just because I am from Africa and Kenya to be more specific does not mean I know your friend from Mali or Namibia, I am not even quarter way done in getting to know people from my village. Do not get me started on the life changing stories that most people share once they visit a country in Africa. It is like Africa is a place where people come to have an epiphany on how precious life is and how privileged they are.   Granted Africans have also played the victim card pretty well, we are always tripping over ourselves to do what the outside world thinks is best for us. We have played a role in portraying the warped picture the world has of us. But we cannot continue to let our heads hang in shame every time someone thinks they know our continent just because they watched a few documentaries and heard stories from a friend of their friend who travelled for a life changing trip to Africa. We have to tell our own stories, stand tall and let the world know that we are a land of endless opportunities and immense potential. If we were so poor and miserable why do we have multinationals fighting it out to set base in our countries? Our soils are rich with minerals and the wild run free in our savannahs. So what if we have troubles here and there, who doesn’t? We are a continent with a heart and back bones of steel, resilient people who rise time and again even in the midst of tragedy and pain. We are a people diverse in their culture and beliefs and that makes us more beautiful and all the more special. However, we all know happy stories don’t sell, sensational stories do and the media foreign or domestic has made this an art. So the next time someone asks you if you live with a lion, give them a smile and get ready to school them on Africa 101!
    612 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • Is Africa a country? Do you live in the forest and my all time favorite do I live with lions (to be honest we have had a few lions escape the National park in Nairobi and taken to the streets).I am sure at one point in time you have had these bizarre questions posed to you. There are times I have wondered if I should dignify such ignorance with an answer and sometimes I have rolled my eyes to the back of my head. You would be forgiven to think we are still living in the Stone Age and not in the 21st Century where information is at our fingertips.    Half the world believes we are a continent of war and hunger. And who can blame them when that is all the media shows them. Naked little children carrying empty bowls with flies covering their dirty faces and women holding on to emaciated babies making long lines to get food rations. If you watch cable TV I am sure you have seen the countless commercials asking viewers to send dollars to some organization and help save a life! We are a continent in constant need of saving and feeding. Poor Africans! It is funny how some these organizations have come to capitalize on this level of ignorance. I believe the reason as to why we are branded as a continent of misery is because there is money to be made. So they tell our sob stories and in return they get their pockets lined with money by well wishers. You would think with all the charitable organizations camping in our countries our troubles would be over but nope! We are still stuck in the vicious cycle of begging and receiving.   To be honest such questions and statement used to irk me to no end but they do not bother me anymore. If someone is too lazy to use Miss Google then I am more than happy to educate them. For starters Africa is not a country but a continent with 54 states. Just because I am from Africa and Kenya to be more specific does not mean I know your friend from Mali or Namibia, I am not even quarter way done in getting to know people from my village. Do not get me started on the life changing stories that most people share once they visit a country in Africa. It is like Africa is a place where people come to have an epiphany on how precious life is and how privileged they are.   Granted Africans have also played the victim card pretty well, we are always tripping over ourselves to do what the outside world thinks is best for us. We have played a role in portraying the warped picture the world has of us. But we cannot continue to let our heads hang in shame every time someone thinks they know our continent just because they watched a few documentaries and heard stories from a friend of their friend who travelled for a life changing trip to Africa. We have to tell our own stories, stand tall and let the world know that we are a land of endless opportunities and immense potential. If we were so poor and miserable why do we have multinationals fighting it out to set base in our countries? Our soils are rich with minerals and the wild run free in our savannahs. So what if we have troubles here and there, who doesn’t? We are a continent with a heart and back bones of steel, resilient people who rise time and again even in the midst of tragedy and pain. We are a people diverse in their culture and beliefs and that makes us more beautiful and all the more special. However, we all know happy stories don’t sell, sensational stories do and the media foreign or domestic has made this an art. So the next time someone asks you if you live with a lion, give them a smile and get ready to school them on Africa 101!
    Apr 25, 2016 612
  • 01 Jun 2016
    Human beings have a tendency of misusing resources when they are available in abundance but is it a culture? Have you ever had something and you ended up misusing it just because you knew you had it in plenty? Let me go deeper and ask, have you ever mistreated someone just because you thought they would never leave? It is unfortunately human nature to do so. Just look around and see the way people utilize resources. Look at how some leader’s abuse funds to how some companies mistreat interns/entry level employees by overworking while underpaying them. Let’s hit close to home and look at our daily habits. Every human has that one habit of misusing something just because they have it in abundance, be it adding an extra tea spoon of sugar just because you can afford to buy another packet, impulse buying accessories just because you can afford them or leaving the water tap running while you brush your teeth. Is it beginning to make sense and have you ever wondered why? Well for the better part of my youth, I didn’t bother to ask myself why. Resources were willingly and readily provided by my parents, whom I really appreciate and respect for doing so. This attitude however changed when I cleared my high school. In my culture, once you went through your rights of passage, you were expected to fend for yourself. Luckily shelter and food were provided but other expenses, such as leisure activities, be it going out with my palls to buying airtime, I had to sort myself. This meant that the little I made from my small hustle had to be utilized efficiently because I didn’t know when I would get my next pay. Being young, all out to have fun and fact that I was born and raised in the city of Nairobi, Kenya where without money one cannot “survive” meant that I had to come up with innovative ways to make money. It became a case of necessity being the mother of all invention. Fast forward to university and post university: I consider myself blessed to have done my industrial attachments, internships and gained some work experience as an engineer in multinational FCMG industries where I saw the impact of efficiency first hand on a personal, company and economic level. On a personal level, efficiency was important in terms of proper time management. On a company level, I happen to have been involved in some projects that improved on both energy and systems efficiency, subsequently seeing the company’s operation costs reduce by a significant percentage resulting to higher profit margins. On an economic level, well, it is obvious to state that the higher the profit margin, the higher the plough back which led to increased employment opportunities due to the expansion of the industry and higher direct tax paid to the government. So this brings me to the question, could our poor emphasis on efficient use of resources be one of the many reasons why Africa is still lagging behind in terms of clean energy access? I believe that this is definitely one of the reasons. Look at it from this point of view – Kenya, my homeland, has a Vision 2022 to increase electricity generation to over 5,000MW mostly from renewables. So as to achieve this target, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum comes up with a budget annually. In this budget we find allocations in expanding both the electricity generation and distribution infrastructure. Well that’s awesome because it is evident that there is a strong correlation between clean energy access i.e. electricity and better quality of life. But here is the issue - currently, it is approximated that the loss of energy through waste and inefficiency ranges between 10%-30% of primary energy input across all the sectors in the country. If we consider that there is currently a total installed capacity of 2,295 MW, it would mean that 230MW-690MW is lost due to inefficiency across the distribution and utilization system. This is sad because if Kenya was more energy efficient, we would save on the capital intensive electricity generation infrastructure required to generate a similar capacity and divert the capital to more wanting sectors like the health sector. It will be even sadder if Kenya continues with this inefficiency trend while working towards the 5000MW target. Just to add insult to injury, according to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Kenya’s industrial sector has an energy saving potential of US$ 20 Million annually. This means that the US$ 20M is literally going down the drain. I’m sure if Kenya were to attain proper efficiencies, such kind of money could be enough to set up a new processing industry every year and create thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. So how can we promote this culture of using energy efficiently so as to improve on sustainability? Well, there are many ways to tackle this bad habit of inefficiency. One can take a zoomed out system approach and figure out why this inefficiency culture exists. For my argument, I choose to take a human use (demand side management) approach because I believe that in any system, a change in human behavior is the basic foundation for any logical change. In other words, if I may use computer science terms, humans are the ones who control whether it will be ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’ or ‘Gold In, Gold Out’. Step one is change from within. There is a saying I once read that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Well look at energy efficiency as an opportunity to conserve the scarce resource so that one more person can have the opportunity to be connected to the National Grid. If you are more money minded like I am, take this as an opportunity to reduce on your utilities bills. Second step is to pass this habit of efficiency to the people around you by being an efficiency ambassador. You can throw in a few sensitization posters and meetings but the most effective way that has been proven to work, is through action. Actions speak louder than words. Through simple actions such as shutting off a dripping tap, switching off a light on a well-lit day while in the company of people or even offering to car pool to and from work with colleagues, you will make them realize that they are wasteful and that it’s their personal responsibility to ensure that resources are used efficiently. Sooner or later, through such continuous efforts the habit of conservation and efficiency will rub off on them. Third step is to incorporate energy efficiency technologies in your day to day operations. This is a way of handling the old dogs who cannot be taught new tricks. There are those around you who will, either willingly or unwillingly, not take up this energy efficiency habit. One will therefore have to find a way to conserve and efficiently use the energy either way. Approaches that can be used for such cases include installation of LED lighting, use of photocell sensors to turn on lights only when it is dark, motion and occupancy sensors to put on lights only when someone is in the room and push taps to dispense water for a specified time interval. If you are in a work place setting, encourage the management to adapt the building to be more energy efficient by taking advantage of natural resources for ventilation and lighting, solar lighting and heating. In an industrial setting, encourage the use of more efficient boilers, premium efficiency motors, and use of common means of transportation i.e. Staff bus instead of personal cars. This will definitely involve some high initial costs but the payback will be worth it due to savings made. Consequent steps will involve continuous improvement. Just like my secondary school teacher once told me, always ensure you are better than your previous assignment. Make sure you don’t give up and keep pushing to ensure energy efficiency around you is realized. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Be bold enough to make the world a better place by embracing efficiency as a first step in ensuring sustainable living.
    646 Posted by Amon Kevin Gachuri
  • Human beings have a tendency of misusing resources when they are available in abundance but is it a culture? Have you ever had something and you ended up misusing it just because you knew you had it in plenty? Let me go deeper and ask, have you ever mistreated someone just because you thought they would never leave? It is unfortunately human nature to do so. Just look around and see the way people utilize resources. Look at how some leader’s abuse funds to how some companies mistreat interns/entry level employees by overworking while underpaying them. Let’s hit close to home and look at our daily habits. Every human has that one habit of misusing something just because they have it in abundance, be it adding an extra tea spoon of sugar just because you can afford to buy another packet, impulse buying accessories just because you can afford them or leaving the water tap running while you brush your teeth. Is it beginning to make sense and have you ever wondered why? Well for the better part of my youth, I didn’t bother to ask myself why. Resources were willingly and readily provided by my parents, whom I really appreciate and respect for doing so. This attitude however changed when I cleared my high school. In my culture, once you went through your rights of passage, you were expected to fend for yourself. Luckily shelter and food were provided but other expenses, such as leisure activities, be it going out with my palls to buying airtime, I had to sort myself. This meant that the little I made from my small hustle had to be utilized efficiently because I didn’t know when I would get my next pay. Being young, all out to have fun and fact that I was born and raised in the city of Nairobi, Kenya where without money one cannot “survive” meant that I had to come up with innovative ways to make money. It became a case of necessity being the mother of all invention. Fast forward to university and post university: I consider myself blessed to have done my industrial attachments, internships and gained some work experience as an engineer in multinational FCMG industries where I saw the impact of efficiency first hand on a personal, company and economic level. On a personal level, efficiency was important in terms of proper time management. On a company level, I happen to have been involved in some projects that improved on both energy and systems efficiency, subsequently seeing the company’s operation costs reduce by a significant percentage resulting to higher profit margins. On an economic level, well, it is obvious to state that the higher the profit margin, the higher the plough back which led to increased employment opportunities due to the expansion of the industry and higher direct tax paid to the government. So this brings me to the question, could our poor emphasis on efficient use of resources be one of the many reasons why Africa is still lagging behind in terms of clean energy access? I believe that this is definitely one of the reasons. Look at it from this point of view – Kenya, my homeland, has a Vision 2022 to increase electricity generation to over 5,000MW mostly from renewables. So as to achieve this target, the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum comes up with a budget annually. In this budget we find allocations in expanding both the electricity generation and distribution infrastructure. Well that’s awesome because it is evident that there is a strong correlation between clean energy access i.e. electricity and better quality of life. But here is the issue - currently, it is approximated that the loss of energy through waste and inefficiency ranges between 10%-30% of primary energy input across all the sectors in the country. If we consider that there is currently a total installed capacity of 2,295 MW, it would mean that 230MW-690MW is lost due to inefficiency across the distribution and utilization system. This is sad because if Kenya was more energy efficient, we would save on the capital intensive electricity generation infrastructure required to generate a similar capacity and divert the capital to more wanting sectors like the health sector. It will be even sadder if Kenya continues with this inefficiency trend while working towards the 5000MW target. Just to add insult to injury, according to the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Kenya’s industrial sector has an energy saving potential of US$ 20 Million annually. This means that the US$ 20M is literally going down the drain. I’m sure if Kenya were to attain proper efficiencies, such kind of money could be enough to set up a new processing industry every year and create thousands of jobs directly and indirectly. So how can we promote this culture of using energy efficiently so as to improve on sustainability? Well, there are many ways to tackle this bad habit of inefficiency. One can take a zoomed out system approach and figure out why this inefficiency culture exists. For my argument, I choose to take a human use (demand side management) approach because I believe that in any system, a change in human behavior is the basic foundation for any logical change. In other words, if I may use computer science terms, humans are the ones who control whether it will be ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out’ or ‘Gold In, Gold Out’. Step one is change from within. There is a saying I once read that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Well look at energy efficiency as an opportunity to conserve the scarce resource so that one more person can have the opportunity to be connected to the National Grid. If you are more money minded like I am, take this as an opportunity to reduce on your utilities bills. Second step is to pass this habit of efficiency to the people around you by being an efficiency ambassador. You can throw in a few sensitization posters and meetings but the most effective way that has been proven to work, is through action. Actions speak louder than words. Through simple actions such as shutting off a dripping tap, switching off a light on a well-lit day while in the company of people or even offering to car pool to and from work with colleagues, you will make them realize that they are wasteful and that it’s their personal responsibility to ensure that resources are used efficiently. Sooner or later, through such continuous efforts the habit of conservation and efficiency will rub off on them. Third step is to incorporate energy efficiency technologies in your day to day operations. This is a way of handling the old dogs who cannot be taught new tricks. There are those around you who will, either willingly or unwillingly, not take up this energy efficiency habit. One will therefore have to find a way to conserve and efficiently use the energy either way. Approaches that can be used for such cases include installation of LED lighting, use of photocell sensors to turn on lights only when it is dark, motion and occupancy sensors to put on lights only when someone is in the room and push taps to dispense water for a specified time interval. If you are in a work place setting, encourage the management to adapt the building to be more energy efficient by taking advantage of natural resources for ventilation and lighting, solar lighting and heating. In an industrial setting, encourage the use of more efficient boilers, premium efficiency motors, and use of common means of transportation i.e. Staff bus instead of personal cars. This will definitely involve some high initial costs but the payback will be worth it due to savings made. Consequent steps will involve continuous improvement. Just like my secondary school teacher once told me, always ensure you are better than your previous assignment. Make sure you don’t give up and keep pushing to ensure energy efficiency around you is realized. As the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Be bold enough to make the world a better place by embracing efficiency as a first step in ensuring sustainable living.
    Jun 01, 2016 646
  • 06 Jun 2016
    If I was a New York Times blogger or Washington Post (I am allowed to dream) I think my editor would have had my head by now. I have a habit of writing my blogs at the last minute because funny enough that is when inspiration seems to strike me or that is when I can no longer stew on a topic and I have to write it down. You may ask why I continue to write if the pressure to deliver is so high but writing my weekly entries has taught me how to honor commitment and frankly I enjoy penning my thoughts down but I digress. A few days ago we were enjoying a few drinks with some of our colleagues and we discussed a lot of issues and cultural food was one of them. I came to realize that Cameroon and specifically the Bamileke have very diverse dishes to choose from, be it from the meat, vegetables and the roots. To be honest I was a bit jealous because my tribe (Kikuyu) is known for many things but diversity in their cuisine is not one of them.   Our discussion got me thinking about the food crisis that continues to face our world. According to the World Food Program 795-216 million people are undernourished and do not get enough food to lead a healthy and active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to human health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The report goes on to list the main causes of hunger as conflict, natural disasters, poverty and poor agricultural practices and over exploitation of resources.  Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world at 23.3% or almost one in every four people.   In Kenya an estimated 1.6 million people are considered food insecure with global rates of acute malnutrition is between 24-37% which is beyond the 15% emergency threshold provided by the World Health Organization. I cannot count how many times Kenyan citizens have come together under the umbrella of Red Cross to mobilize funds to feed the hungry in the Northern part of the country which is majorly an arid and semi-arid zone. Sadly, this has only served as a short term relief measure and a long term solution is yet to be fully implemented. Hence, in every few years the country is caught off guard and we end up losing lives and sources of income especially for the pastoralist communities.    On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), goal number two is to end hunger which is closely tied to goal number one which is to end poverty. The target is to ensure access by all people to safe nutritious food all year round by 2030. Governments hope to achieve this by doubling the agricultural productivity, ensuring secure and equal access to land, implementing resilient agricultural practices that will increase productivity and production and maintaining genetic diversity of seeds, plants, domestic animals among others like political reforms.    I think it is a shame that with all the advancements humans have made in the 21st Century feeding themselves sufficiently remains a big challenge. What I think should be on this list as well are communities adopting new food sources that are not traditionally considered as culturally acceptable. It is sad to have people die out of hunger when food surrounds them only because the said food is not acceptable in their culture. If we are to beat world hunger and especially in Africa we will have to think outside the box. We need to start considering other sources of food even as we implement other actions. Bugs like crickets, termites, beetles, and caterpillars are sources of food in parts of Central and West Africa and we could look into investing in breeding them and supplying our markets. I do not know how many of us me included would consider frogs, snakes or bats as delicacies without gagging but the truth of the matter is there are people who have been eating them for years and they are well and breathing so we shouldn’t be any different. The vision we have for 2030 does not have to seem like an unreachable goal but we can slowly work towards achieving it through gradual lifestyle and social changes.  
    654 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • If I was a New York Times blogger or Washington Post (I am allowed to dream) I think my editor would have had my head by now. I have a habit of writing my blogs at the last minute because funny enough that is when inspiration seems to strike me or that is when I can no longer stew on a topic and I have to write it down. You may ask why I continue to write if the pressure to deliver is so high but writing my weekly entries has taught me how to honor commitment and frankly I enjoy penning my thoughts down but I digress. A few days ago we were enjoying a few drinks with some of our colleagues and we discussed a lot of issues and cultural food was one of them. I came to realize that Cameroon and specifically the Bamileke have very diverse dishes to choose from, be it from the meat, vegetables and the roots. To be honest I was a bit jealous because my tribe (Kikuyu) is known for many things but diversity in their cuisine is not one of them.   Our discussion got me thinking about the food crisis that continues to face our world. According to the World Food Program 795-216 million people are undernourished and do not get enough food to lead a healthy and active life. Hunger and malnutrition are in fact the number one risk to human health worldwide — greater than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The report goes on to list the main causes of hunger as conflict, natural disasters, poverty and poor agricultural practices and over exploitation of resources.  Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world at 23.3% or almost one in every four people.   In Kenya an estimated 1.6 million people are considered food insecure with global rates of acute malnutrition is between 24-37% which is beyond the 15% emergency threshold provided by the World Health Organization. I cannot count how many times Kenyan citizens have come together under the umbrella of Red Cross to mobilize funds to feed the hungry in the Northern part of the country which is majorly an arid and semi-arid zone. Sadly, this has only served as a short term relief measure and a long term solution is yet to be fully implemented. Hence, in every few years the country is caught off guard and we end up losing lives and sources of income especially for the pastoralist communities.    On the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), goal number two is to end hunger which is closely tied to goal number one which is to end poverty. The target is to ensure access by all people to safe nutritious food all year round by 2030. Governments hope to achieve this by doubling the agricultural productivity, ensuring secure and equal access to land, implementing resilient agricultural practices that will increase productivity and production and maintaining genetic diversity of seeds, plants, domestic animals among others like political reforms.    I think it is a shame that with all the advancements humans have made in the 21st Century feeding themselves sufficiently remains a big challenge. What I think should be on this list as well are communities adopting new food sources that are not traditionally considered as culturally acceptable. It is sad to have people die out of hunger when food surrounds them only because the said food is not acceptable in their culture. If we are to beat world hunger and especially in Africa we will have to think outside the box. We need to start considering other sources of food even as we implement other actions. Bugs like crickets, termites, beetles, and caterpillars are sources of food in parts of Central and West Africa and we could look into investing in breeding them and supplying our markets. I do not know how many of us me included would consider frogs, snakes or bats as delicacies without gagging but the truth of the matter is there are people who have been eating them for years and they are well and breathing so we shouldn’t be any different. The vision we have for 2030 does not have to seem like an unreachable goal but we can slowly work towards achieving it through gradual lifestyle and social changes.  
    Jun 06, 2016 654
  • 14 Nov 2016
    It feels like forever since my last entry and I apologize, the cold weather seems to have gotten the best of me and the classes have been quite fast paced. However, none of this excuses my not writing because it is a commitment I take on very seriously and frankly one that I immensely enjoy. The last couple of weeks have been jam packed with activities at the institute and it is only now that things are settling down after the departure of the recently graduated students. It has also been exciting meeting and getting to know the new students and it has brought a few memories for me from about a year ago. When I first arrived in Algeria, it was nothing like I expected and I almost took the next flight home but I am glad I stayed. For a while I clung on to the familiar and refused to embrace the new but we always have to embrace change either for our betterment or detriment. If for nothing else PAUWES for me has signified self growth in confidence, self awareness and assurance of what I am really passionate about but it did not happen overnight. It is so easy to feel lost in the crowd especially because you are meeting people from different academic backgrounds and cultures. We may be tempted to compare ourselves to the next person but we should never lose our uniqueness and identity. No two snowflakes are alike. We have to believe that each of us has something to bring to the table, after all we were chosen as the best in Africa so why should we question our worth? Of course, we have the social butterflies, those who start conversations with ease and seem to have it all figured out but sometimes wisdom is found in the quiet. I am in a class of 8 intelligent friends and classmates. We have shared a classroom for over a year and that for us has created a bond that will transition into our next phase in life. When we arrived our comfort and identity was in our countries and where we come from but country is the last thing on our minds now. We have become borderless. It has been amazing to witness the changes that have taken in each of us. If at any time in the near future I was asked to select a team to work with, they would be it for me in a heartbeat. I know who to call if a project on irrigation, water management, climate change, policy analysis or transboundary water management was commissioned. However, these relationships were not built overnight and took time to develop and so will yours. What you have to do is nurture them and help each other harness the potential that is within each of you. Do not take this a competition but rather a journey that is more fruitful because you are accompanied by the very best. Some of you have expressed worry because they can still not define their areas of interest for research or feel they have no tangible networks. I am here to tell you to relax. In the course of the next year you will be exposed to different units and even a more diverse pool of professors. If you keep your eyes and ears open you will find your perfect fit. That area of interest that evokes passion in you and everyone knows you can provide insight on it. Please do not hide, let your opinion be heard and let no question go unasked. Keep in touch with your professors especially if they are in your field of interest, ask for recommendations and keep building your networks because I promise it pays in the end. While you are here, step out of your comfort zone, forget the stereotypes and open yourself to learning something new and making meaningful connections and friendships. I am no expert but merely speak from experience but I hope my two cents can make the journey a little easier and better for you. Cheers!
    751 Posted by Eva Kimonye
  • It feels like forever since my last entry and I apologize, the cold weather seems to have gotten the best of me and the classes have been quite fast paced. However, none of this excuses my not writing because it is a commitment I take on very seriously and frankly one that I immensely enjoy. The last couple of weeks have been jam packed with activities at the institute and it is only now that things are settling down after the departure of the recently graduated students. It has also been exciting meeting and getting to know the new students and it has brought a few memories for me from about a year ago. When I first arrived in Algeria, it was nothing like I expected and I almost took the next flight home but I am glad I stayed. For a while I clung on to the familiar and refused to embrace the new but we always have to embrace change either for our betterment or detriment. If for nothing else PAUWES for me has signified self growth in confidence, self awareness and assurance of what I am really passionate about but it did not happen overnight. It is so easy to feel lost in the crowd especially because you are meeting people from different academic backgrounds and cultures. We may be tempted to compare ourselves to the next person but we should never lose our uniqueness and identity. No two snowflakes are alike. We have to believe that each of us has something to bring to the table, after all we were chosen as the best in Africa so why should we question our worth? Of course, we have the social butterflies, those who start conversations with ease and seem to have it all figured out but sometimes wisdom is found in the quiet. I am in a class of 8 intelligent friends and classmates. We have shared a classroom for over a year and that for us has created a bond that will transition into our next phase in life. When we arrived our comfort and identity was in our countries and where we come from but country is the last thing on our minds now. We have become borderless. It has been amazing to witness the changes that have taken in each of us. If at any time in the near future I was asked to select a team to work with, they would be it for me in a heartbeat. I know who to call if a project on irrigation, water management, climate change, policy analysis or transboundary water management was commissioned. However, these relationships were not built overnight and took time to develop and so will yours. What you have to do is nurture them and help each other harness the potential that is within each of you. Do not take this a competition but rather a journey that is more fruitful because you are accompanied by the very best. Some of you have expressed worry because they can still not define their areas of interest for research or feel they have no tangible networks. I am here to tell you to relax. In the course of the next year you will be exposed to different units and even a more diverse pool of professors. If you keep your eyes and ears open you will find your perfect fit. That area of interest that evokes passion in you and everyone knows you can provide insight on it. Please do not hide, let your opinion be heard and let no question go unasked. Keep in touch with your professors especially if they are in your field of interest, ask for recommendations and keep building your networks because I promise it pays in the end. While you are here, step out of your comfort zone, forget the stereotypes and open yourself to learning something new and making meaningful connections and friendships. I am no expert but merely speak from experience but I hope my two cents can make the journey a little easier and better for you. Cheers!
    Nov 14, 2016 751
  • 18 Mar 2016
    What? Gender equality!! You mean women and kids issues being paramount over mine? That’s a joke! These were some of the words of a fellow man who happened to be my neighbor in one of the suburbs of Kampala. Not one, two or three but many people seem not to understand the brass tacks surrounding gender parity and the need to approach it in a holistic manner. Just imagine the prominent ladies we read about in the bound collections of pages, manuscripts and records, if these ladies were shut behind the curtains and not left to express who they really are, I am not sure about other people but surely me and my family would have missed a lot. Women like Clara Barton, Lucy Stone, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell….the list goes on and on. It’s ok if this is your first time to see those names but I am sure google works everywhere, don’t feel shy to find out about them instead of just smiling at the fact that you really don’t know them. These women played a very important role in the lives we’re living today. In the present times we can look at names like Opray, imagine how many lives that have been inspired and changed by this woman through her works. If I go on to mention names, I have trust my grandmother’s name will also appear but that will be another days story. Point is, everyone has a role to play and there is a general need to realize and address the gender issues and make them part and parcel of our lives. It’s by this that we will be able to see a better world that is being written and sang about in songs. I like history for we get to see ourselves clearly in the eyes and pass the judgment. Dating back to 1919 (times of world war 1), there was a deficit in work force owing to economic, social influences and demand for more production amidst the raging war, room for women to join the work force was created. A multitude of women found themselves working outside home. World War II also created millions of jobs for women, it is written in books of American history that thousands of women joined the Millitary (US Army). That sounds good, doesn’t it? Now the big question to me and you is, “Do we have to wait for a strong calamity or another world war to see women performing even when there are positions where they can do better than some men currently occupying those positions? Reserve your answer. But if we continue to keep silent on such issues concerning gender, am afraid we fall victims of Martin Luther’s words “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” It’s hard to imagine that in Japan, working mothers are addressed as people who have a special place in hell! They have a singular term for them in Japanese “oniyome” which is a direct translation for “devil wives”. Well this may have struck you as a surprise but it’s just a drop in the sea of examples that are existing now. If this can happen in one of the most developed countries in the world, what about the impoverished societies in underdeveloped ones where men are looked at as demi gods! It’s not fair, is it? Well, it’s either we sit back and watch the movie as it unravels or we let our voices to be heard, it’s not for women alone, we all have a role to play. Kukeera Tonnytonnykukeera@gmail.com@editorial_team  
    719 Posted by Tonny Kukeera
  • What? Gender equality!! You mean women and kids issues being paramount over mine? That’s a joke! These were some of the words of a fellow man who happened to be my neighbor in one of the suburbs of Kampala. Not one, two or three but many people seem not to understand the brass tacks surrounding gender parity and the need to approach it in a holistic manner. Just imagine the prominent ladies we read about in the bound collections of pages, manuscripts and records, if these ladies were shut behind the curtains and not left to express who they really are, I am not sure about other people but surely me and my family would have missed a lot. Women like Clara Barton, Lucy Stone, Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell….the list goes on and on. It’s ok if this is your first time to see those names but I am sure google works everywhere, don’t feel shy to find out about them instead of just smiling at the fact that you really don’t know them. These women played a very important role in the lives we’re living today. In the present times we can look at names like Opray, imagine how many lives that have been inspired and changed by this woman through her works. If I go on to mention names, I have trust my grandmother’s name will also appear but that will be another days story. Point is, everyone has a role to play and there is a general need to realize and address the gender issues and make them part and parcel of our lives. It’s by this that we will be able to see a better world that is being written and sang about in songs. I like history for we get to see ourselves clearly in the eyes and pass the judgment. Dating back to 1919 (times of world war 1), there was a deficit in work force owing to economic, social influences and demand for more production amidst the raging war, room for women to join the work force was created. A multitude of women found themselves working outside home. World War II also created millions of jobs for women, it is written in books of American history that thousands of women joined the Millitary (US Army). That sounds good, doesn’t it? Now the big question to me and you is, “Do we have to wait for a strong calamity or another world war to see women performing even when there are positions where they can do better than some men currently occupying those positions? Reserve your answer. But if we continue to keep silent on such issues concerning gender, am afraid we fall victims of Martin Luther’s words “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” It’s hard to imagine that in Japan, working mothers are addressed as people who have a special place in hell! They have a singular term for them in Japanese “oniyome” which is a direct translation for “devil wives”. Well this may have struck you as a surprise but it’s just a drop in the sea of examples that are existing now. If this can happen in one of the most developed countries in the world, what about the impoverished societies in underdeveloped ones where men are looked at as demi gods! It’s not fair, is it? Well, it’s either we sit back and watch the movie as it unravels or we let our voices to be heard, it’s not for women alone, we all have a role to play. Kukeera Tonnytonnykukeera@gmail.com@editorial_team  
    Mar 18, 2016 719