Around the world, arable land or land that is suitable for agriculture is dwindling. The rural-to-urban migration and growing cities of the world have constricted the capacity of the rural populations to provide food, for both urban and rural populations. At the same time, our overall world population is increasing. How do we feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050? In Kenya, a US-based not-for-profit social enterprise called CAN YA LOVE (pronounced as Kenya Love), is working with a consortium of local partners, to erect pillar gardens in urban areas such as slums, community land spaces and in schools.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organization that helps countries move to more sustainable energy options. The Agency also provides a focal point for governments from around the world to work together and share information on clean tech best practice. IRENA recently released a policy brief Solar Pumping for Irrigation: Improving livelihoods and sustainability, this brief forms part of a broader agenda focused on renewable energy opportunities in the agriculture and water sector.
Another innovation with regard to solar energy category was that of solar roofing tiles presented by Strauss Energy. Strauss is into the business of incorporating solar cells - called Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) into building materials such as tiles. The solar tile is either made of a plastic material or mixture of plastic and ceramic components, with solar cells being overlayed on top. This model seeks to combine both the advantages of house roofing and power generation. The solar cells work in the normal way by converting sun’s energy into power which is then channeled to power devices at home, office or factory.
Right this minute; a woman somewhere in rural sub-Saharan Africa is on a long trek. Not because she’s part of a nomadic tribe or visiting a neighbouring village but because she has to do something that many of us with modern conveniences take for granted – cook for her family. This woman represents the reality of about 3 billion of the world’s population who cook meals over an open fire everyday. People who just need an easier way to get things done. Showcased in the Network’s Solutions Database along with other low-tech projects, the Ezy stove does just that.
Kenya is a first in many a renewable energy innovation. The country houses a number of solar-energy innovations that touch on, among other sectors, agriculture and the retail sector. Agriculture, being the backbone of the Kenyan economy, and an employer of 75% or thereabouts of the entire country’s workforce, remains an important sector in the country. The IEA observes that by 2050, solar energy could be the top source of electricity, generating up to 16% of the world's electricity - Kenya is certainly not an exception to these statistics.
In Nairobi telecommunications firm MTN have opened a new data office with 70 racks aimed at supporting small to medium sized businesses. Liquid Telecom’s East Africa Data Centre has 600 racks and IBM have recently opened a cognitive cloud computing service in conjunction with Sidian Bank. Kenya is now a growing hub for online supported services and cloud technology not just in East Africa, but across the continent as a whole.
Africa needs to invest in more mini grid and off grid solutions to provide more people with power and support economic growth and social transformation, so says Africa Progress Panel - led by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. Traditional methods of supplying power are unreliable and experience many challenges, with mini grids and off grids as modern methods can help bridge that gap. Their demand is increasing and costs decreasing.
In late 2004, Kisumu bay, Lake Victoria, was covered in a blue-green hue. The algal bloom - a proliferation of cyanobacteria – demarcated an area of low oxygen and eventually decomposing algae, causing fish to suffocate or flee and contaminating the drinking water- a dead zone. Adapt-N, a software programme developed by researchers at Cornell University seeks to solve this problem.