Living off the grid, without access to stable electricity, carries consequences beyond simply not being able to switch on the lights at night. In hospitals and clinics across developing regions, the inability to rely on electricity — or a complete lack thereof — translates into profound shortcomings in the provision of life-saving treatments. William Steel interviewed Julia Römer for Cleanleap, Julia co-founded Coolar in 2014, with the goal to develop a better solution for off-grid refrigeration of medical supplies.
Intasave, a not-for-profit and environmental enterprise is planning to use scalable nanogrid solar power systems to bring clean, reliable and affordable power to about 500 communities and 250,000 people in Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique within three years. After raising the initial US$100,000 through crowdfunding, construction of the hubs is already underway in villages in Kenya.
Smallholder farming is primarily characterized by differentially low incomes, in particular the poor sub-Saharan African farmers. Closely tied to this are the high proportion of farmers income spent on their energy needs, both at the domestic and crop-production level. There is essentially a correlation between income levels and access to clean modern energy. In Kenya, the energy situation could be getting better, with a social enterprise that invests in an end-to-end solution for smallholder farmers, Takamoto Biogas is tackling the fundamental global problems of deforestation and climate change.
The World Banks off grid solar initiative, Lighting Global, and Bloomberg New Energy Finance have recently launched the third publication of its type – an in depth analysis of the trends for 2016 global off grid solar power market. The report examines a relatively new market and provides valuable insights into the rapid technological changes to ensure low cost, clean electricity for all. The report highlights the key driving concern that over 1.2 billion people lack access to the power grid, which means they spend around $27 billion on expensive fossil fuel based technology.
As the global population progresses towards 8.5 billion by 2030, the amount of urban solid waste is budding even faster than the rate of urbanization. In Kenya, solid waste is a precursor to several environmental and health challenges, ranging from clogged drainage and sewers, waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera and diarrhea, increased upper respiratory diseases from open burning of the garbage, to malaria. Collection and disposal systems are inefficient and are not environmentally-friendly.
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.