In Kenya, a carport can do more than just shade cars; it can produce electricity

Leave a comment

solar carport1

credit: Reuters

Kenya, East Africa’s largest economy is setting good examples for smaller economies in the region. The country is at the forefront of renewable energy in East Africa exploiting all available sources from wind to water (hydropower), nuclear to geothermal and also the large round red ball. Kenyans, are the world leader in the number of solar power systems installed per capita. More Kenyans are turning to solar power every year despite the government’s ambitious plan to increase power output. This is because the cost of connecting to the national grid discourages poor Kenyans who have a cheaper alternative in solar energy.

Thus, solar panels are becoming very common in Kenya nowadays. Everywhere you go, you see solar panels, even at carports.

The uppermost storey of a car park at Garden City Mall, part of the new 32-acre integrated residential, retail park, hotel and office development on Nairobi’s Thika Superhighway is fitted with a solar carport, which has been described as Africa’s largest. Solarcentury and Solar Africa renewable energy organisations that collaborated in the construction of the installation said it will cut carbon emissions from power generation through non-renewable energy by 745 tonnes annually.

A total of 3,300 solar panels capable of generating 1256 MWh annually were used.

“We are incredibly proud to be bringing our second dual-mode solar system to Kenya, this time to build East Africa’s largest rooftop system,” Dr Dan Davies, the Director for Solarcentury in East Africa said in 2014 during the commissioning of the project.

Situated on the topmost floor of the Garden City Mall along the Thika Superhighway, the carport will not only shade cars, it will also provide solar energy to reduce consumption from the power grid.

Way to go, Kenya!

solar carport solar carport2 Solar carport3


Leave a comment

Saw this from 2011. I wrote it during a boring class at the University of Ilorin.


i saw RED scarves flying in the sky,
RED tattoos on everybody i saw,
RED shirts on every lil and big,
RED smiles on everyone in RED.

fire-works began in a row,
and the sky soon became red
even the floor was RED everywhere,
but i was the odd one out in blue.

i felt isolated and desolate
until a man in his sixties came to me,
glasses on his face,
his teeth working on bubble gums.

he came to me and smiled
whao! his teeth were RED with glitters
he offered me a handshake which i quickly
hmmm… my blue turned RED.

i joined in the song as i turned RED
a man lifted a cup together with his friends
in white shorts and RED shirts
we waved our flags as they do,
and we all sang;

View original post

Almost all Facebook users in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa access it through mobile devices

Leave a comment

Facebook active users in Africa


Facebook has shared new statistics revealing that 2.2 million Kenyans use Facebook every day and 4.5 million each month, while 7.1 million Nigerians use Facebook daily and 15 million are active every month.  Almost all these people are coming to Facebook on a mobile device: 100% of Nigerian monthly users are active on mobile as are 95% of Kenya’s monthly users.

This follows the recent announcement that Facebook’s active user population in Africa has grown 20% to 120 million in June 2015 from 100 million in September 2014. More than 80% of these people access Facebook from their mobile phones. Now, 60% of all Internet users in Africa are active on Facebook.

Nunu Ntshingila, newly appointed Head of Africa at Facebook, said: “At Facebook, we have a saying that we’re only 1% done, and this couldn’t be truer for Facebook in Africa. I’m only beginning this journey, and I’m already incredibly inspired by the power of connection – from the smallest moments to fostering global conversations. Everyone on Facebook has a story, and I can’t wait to hear the stories from Kenya and Nigeria firsthand.”

Ntshingila continued: “Mobile is not a trend; it’s the fastest adoption of disruptive technology in history of communication. It’s also an incredibly personal device regardless of where a person lives or how they connect, and businesses need to reach people where they are, not where they were, in an authentic, personal and relevant way. I look forward to spending time with businesses across Africa to understand how we can work together.”

Facebook recently opened its first office in Africa to further the company’s commitment to help businesses connect with people and grow locally and regionally. The new office is the next step in furthering Facebook’s investment in Africa and its people. The team in Africa will focus initially on Kenya (East Africa), Nigeria (West Africa), and South Africa (Southern Africa).

Ari Kesisoglu, Facebook’s Regional Director for MEA, said: “We are committed to creating solutions tailored to people and businesses in Africa. We continue to spend time with businesses to learn about how we can work together to create better, more flexible and less fragmented ways for businesses to reach people in Africa.”


Global: Q2 2015

Facebook’s usage and engagement continues to grow:

•          Daily active users (DAUs) – DAUs were 968 million on average for June 2015, an increase of 17% year-over-year. Now 65% of monthly active users are also daily active users.

•          Mobile DAUs – Mobile DAUs were 844 million on average for June 2015, an increase of 29% year-over-year.

•          Monthly active users (MAUs) – MAUs were 1.49 billion as of June 30, 2015, an increase of 13% year-over-year. (This is half of the world’s internet population of 3B)

•          Mobile MAUs – Mobile MAUs were 1.31 billion as of June 30, 2015, an increase of 23% year- over-year.

•          Time spent: Across Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, people are now spending more than 46 minutes per day on average.

•          65% of people who use Facebook come back every day.

Kenya: Q2 2015

•          2.2 million total daily active users (DAUs)

•          2.1  million mobile DAU

•          4.5 million total monthly active users (MAUs)

•          4.3 million mobile MAU (95% of MAUs)

Nigeria: Q2 2015

•          7.1 million total daily active users (DAUs)

•          6.9 million mobile DAU

•          15 million total monthly active users (MAUs)

•          15 million mobile MAU (100% of MAUs)

South Africa: Q2 2015

•          7.3 million total daily active users (DAUs)

•          7 million mobile DAU

•          12 million total monthly active users (MAUs)

•          12 million mobile MAU (100% of MAUs)


Distributed by APO

Africa- Brokers key in commercial insurance space

Leave a comment

Database of Press Releases related to Africa - APO-Source

Africa- Brokers key in commercial insurance space

Brokers provide critical partner for African commercial insurers

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, August 17, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ With tough market conditions providing so little opportunity for growth, commercial insurers are starting to focus on brokers at the more profitable end of the market, either through niche products, or by working with regional community brokers who typically know their clients better, resulting in stickier, more profitable business.


Photo: (Clinton Brown, SSP Business Development Manager)

“Commercial insurance can be highly complex because it needs to be more specific and tailored to the individual needs of businesses,” says Clinton Brown, Business Development Manager at SSP ( “As a result, brokers are far more crucial partners for insurers in the commercial space than the personal one,” explains Brown, referring to a recent SSP white paper, “Where next on the distribution journey?”. (

View original post 677 more words

The Hold-Up with Mobile Money in Nigeria

Leave a comment

Center for Financial Inclusion Blog

> Posted by Prateek Shrivastava, Global Director, Channels & Technology, Accion

The National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria passed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Act in 2007. The Act included provisions for the creation of the CBN to ensure monetary stability, issuing and maintaining legal tender, and promoting the implementation of best practices including the use of electronic payment systems in all banks across Nigeria.

In the same year, the CBN developed the Financial System Strategy 2020 wherein the need for electronic financial services (amongst many other reforms) to make Nigeria a competitive economy was identified. Since 2008, the CBN has been extremely active in developing and implementing guidelines and frameworks to support the digitization of financial services (for example, all banks and microfinance banks need to have core banking systems, and the use of ATMs is governed) including mobile money and agent banking. The Guidelines on…

View original post 1,603 more words

Dawn raids rise in Sub-Saharan Africa

Leave a comment

Shawn hi res

Shawn van der Meulen

Dawn raids in South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to increase in a bid by competition authorities to investigate potentially anti-competitive activities by companies, according to Webber Wentzel, one of South Africa’s leading law firms.

Speaking at a competition law seminar for Sub-Saharan Africa today hosted by Webber Wentzel, partner in the competition practice Shawn van der Meulen said, “We are seeing a big increase in the number of dawn raids carried out by competition authorities in Africa. In South Africa, we have already seen six this year across a number of sectors.”

The purposes of these dawn raids is to enable competition authorities to uncover evidence of anti-competitive practices, and in particular collusion (price-fixing, market allocation and bid-rigging), which is the most egregious form of anti-competitive activity.  “In such operations, the competition authorities can copy and save all electronic documents from a company’s servers to use in the investigation, which includes very sensitive company information,” he added.

Interestingly, the dawn raid risk is a growing concern for businesses in Africa with recent momentum gaining in many other sub-Saharan African jurisdictions, including Botswana, Malawi and Zambia.

Van der Meulen noted that “Cross-border dawn raids could potentially be conducted where multi-jurisdictional cartels are investigated, but this requires a coordinated approach from the competition authorities in different countries.” For example, the South African Competition Commission might carry out a dawn raid on a South African-based company, but the incriminating evidence could be held at its offices in Zambia and potentially be destroyed before being uncovered. “Collaboration is thus critical for the authorities in order for multi-jurisdictional dawn raids to be fruitful,” he added.

Also speaking at the seminar, Luyamba Mpamba, director of the mergers and monopolies division at the Zambian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, gave an indication of the level of dawn raids in Zambia. Mpamba says, “Since the competition law pertaining to Zambia was revised in 2010, five dawn raids were carried out across various sectors including banking and fertilizers. We are also currently looking at five cartel investigations. We have found that dawn raids prove useful in investigating companies and we will be pushing for a leniency program to allow for better incentives so that members of cartels can come forward.”

In Zambia specifically, there are quite clear restrictions on which offices and documents can be seized, based on what is stipulated in the search warrant.   The Zambian authority also considers it important to try to limit the impact of a dawn raid on the operations of the business while the raid is being executed. There is however a need for further co-operation and co-ordination by the competition authorities in relation to uncovering multi-jurisdictional cartels.

In relation to South Africa, representative from the cartels division of the South African Competition Commission, Mfundo Ngobese, pointed out that dawn raids are likely to increase as the Commission gains further expertise and grows in terms of its resources.

Since the commencement of the Competition Act in 1999, the South African Commission has conducted dawn raids at approximately 20 different business premises across a broad spectrum of sectors. Although the Commission’s early days focused on merger control, it has shown an increasing ability year on year to uncover other anti-competitive activities, particularly focused on collusion.

Ngobese said, “The rise of dawn raids is in line with the Commission’s growth over the last few years in terms of resources and people. The Commission’s expertise is also growing as we have conducted raids in a number of sectors including tyres, scrap metal, cables, airlines, furniture removals, panel beaters, fertilizers and cement.”

Dawn raids ‘flush out’ collusion particularly effectively when they are conducted at the same time at the premises of competing companies thought to be engaged in collusion. Competitor companies are forced to quickly consider the Competition Commission’s Corporate Leniency Policy (CLP), which outlines a process through which a self-confessing cartel member, who is first to approach the Commission, may receive immunity or indemnity for its participation in collusive activities upon fulfilling specific requirements and conditions. Under the CLP, the whistle-blowing cartelist may escape paying an administrative penalty (of up to 10% of turnover) where it confesses to having engaged in cartel conduct.

“Therein lies a whistle-blower’s carrot,” says van der Meulen. “It is not uncommon for a firm that has been the subject of a dawn raid to discover cartel conduct  in its operations, and so have to quickly apply to the Commission for leniency under the CLP, given that the leniency applicant may be scurrying against its competitors to be ‘the first cartelist through the door’ for immunity.”

Steps to be taken by firms during a dawn raid

Firms are best advised, and in fact obliged, to co-operate with the Commission during a dawn raid there are some basic steps to follow which may serve to ensure that the legal rights firms and individuals have in a dawn raid are protected. The following guideline provides some basic steps to follow in a dawn raid and sets out some key “do’s” and “don’ts”.

Arrival of the inspectors

Step 1: Ask the inspectors to provide their identification and to explain by which authority the search is being executed. In most instances the search is conducted with a warrant – ask to see the warrant and make copies of it. Note the names of each individual present. Each person must be an appointed inspector and produce a certificate of appointment.

Step 2: Examine the warrant and ensure that it:

  • is issued by a judge of the high court, a regional magistrate or magistrate with jurisdiction over the area in which the premises are located;
  • clearly identifies the premises which must be entered and searched – ensure that the warrant refers to your premises; and
  • has not been issued more than one month prior to the date on which it is executed.

Step 3: Ensure you understand the extent of the search powers (scope) and the degree of access granted to the inspectors.

Step 4: Ask the inspectors to wait at reception until you have had an opportunity to phone your in-house legal advisor/s and /or external attorney/s. Ideally, the search should only start once your legal representative is present, but the inspectors are not obligated to wait for legal representatives to arrive.

Step 5: Take the inspectors to a meeting room to use as their base and request that they wait there until your legal representative has arrived. Be calm at all times and do not resist any actions by the use of force. Make it clear that the company intends to comply with the lawful conduct of the search.

During the dawn raid

  • Shadow the inspectors, closely allocating at least one employee to each inspector. The shadows must take notes of all of the inspector’s activities, carefully noting all their requests and everything that they do. Shadows should be co-operative and explain where things are and how documents are filed (to the extent that they can). An information technology (IT) specialist from the company should be allocated to the IT inspector representative.
  • Shadows must ensure that they have a duplicate copy of all documents copied by the inspectors.
  • Shadows must not allow the inspectors to review privileged documents – “privileged information” refers to any document which has been prepared for purposes of contemplated litigation or any legal advice. Privileged information need not be marked “privileged”.
  • Do not answer any material questions in relation to the dawn raid or any documents reviewed by the inspectors until your legal representative has arrived.
  • Do not obstruct the officials in exercising their power and do not destroy, falsify or conceal documents.

Can you drink water made from poo? Bill Gates did

Leave a comment


Early January, a video clip featuring Bill Gates started making the rounds on the Internet. But he wasn’t delivering one of his inspiring speeches about vaccines or getting drenched in ice water to raise awareness about ALS. He was just drinking a glass of water.

Sounds boring, right? The catch: five minutes before Gates took his first sip, that water had been human waste pumped in from a local sewage facility. That’s right: Bill Gates drank poop water to entertain an audience on the Internet.

Well, sort of. Gates was using the apparent publicity stunt to unveil the OmniProcessor—a low-cost waste treatment plant that combines a steam power plant, an incinerator, and a water filtration system into a machine capable of converting 14 tons of sewage into potable water and electricity each day. I’ve tried the water myself; not only is it drinkable, it’s actually indistinguishable from tap water or bottled water.

The contraption, about the size of two school buses placed side by side, was engineered from scratch by a small, family-run company called Janicki Bioenergy; its two-year development was funded by The Gates Foundation as part of its Reinvent the Toilet Challenge.

When it was first revealed to the world, the OmniProcessor sat in an open lot in small-town Washington behind other Janicki buildings where workers built machine parts for aerospace, marine, space, and transportation operations. But once most of the kinks were worked out of the prototype—Gates personally inspected the machine late last year—the Janicki team wanted to see how the OmniProcessor worked for real. They took the machine apart and in February traveled to Dakar, Senegal, to rebuild the high-tech waste plant in the city to see if it could live up to its promise. By May, the OmniProcessor was up and running—and it turns out, as usual, that the real world isn’t as simple.

Garbage In, Water Out

So far, Gates says, the Janicki is working “as predicted,”though that doesn’t necessarily mean the test is going without a hitch.

“The real world introduces lots of variables,” Gates writes in a blog post today. “For example, you have to find the right personnel to run the machine. You have to work with local and national governments and gauge the public’s reaction.”

Gates says the OmniProcessor team is thinking about how to tweak the OmniProcessor’s design and working out a business plan.

“The next version of the machine will burn most types of garbage in addition to human waste, and it will be easier to maintain,” Gates says. The Janicki team is looking to sell the first $1.5 million OmniProcessor unit to a Sengalese city and is in talks to sell other units to potential buyers in wealthier countries, too.

It’s tempting, Gates says, to focus on the flashier part of the OmniProcessor. Poop water that’s actually drinkable?!? But ultimately, the goal isn’t for the OmniProcessor to produce water, according to Gates. It’s to dramatically improve sanitation for cities in poor countries.

Affordable Sanitation

Today, at least 2 billion people still use toilet facilities that aren’t properly drained, and disease caused by poor sanitation kills 700,000 children a year. Rich-world solutions don’t work in developing countries, either—the infrastructure is too expensive. The whole point of the OmniProcessor, Gates says, is to make sanitation affordable for low-income communities.

In the city of Dakar alone, 1.2 million people aren’t connected to a sewage line. Instead, they have their own pits where people dump fecal waste. To deal with the waste, members of the community often empty the pits manually, filling buckets by hand and transferring sludge to holes in the ground that they’ve dug themselves. It’s a truly dangerous business—because of the rapid spread of pathogens, these people risk getting seriously ill from the work.

A better way to deal with the waste is to mechanically transfer fecal sludge via trucks and tubes to treatment plants. In Dakar, those plants have now been partially replaced by the OmniProcessor. According to Mbaye Mbéguéré, program coordinator at the National Institute of Sanitation, about one-third of the sludge in Dakar is now processed by these machines, turning human waste not only into drinkable water but producing electricity and ash for use in activities like construction.

Clean Tech

That’s not an insignificant accomplishment for the OmniProcessor. The hope is that other entrepreneurs in Africa, seeing the machine’s success in Dakar—that is, not just proving feasibility, but actually succeeding as a business model—will push them to invest in sanitation, as well.

“Why hasn’t anyone built one before now?” Gates asks. “Because the people who understood the technology weren’t getting sick or dying from contaminated water, and they didn’t know anyone who was. Nor was it clear how they could make a profit by working on the problem.”

Whether or not the OmniProcessor will see real success, the Gates Foundation’s effort to move sanitation research forward—not exactly the sexiest science there is—is laudable. As Mark van Loosdrecht, a professor of environmental biotechnology at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, pointed out in January, having support from a philanthropic organization—especially one with pockets as deep as the Gates Foundation—is an advantage for researchers and developers of sanitation tech. “They don’t need to worry about the support,” he said. “I like the long-term vision instead of the usual program with short-term gains.”

– See more at:

Older Entries Newer Entries