For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Nov 3rd 2014
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK NOVEMBER 1-7,2014 health experts to support the response if there is a flight embargo on the affected countries?” Nine Kenyans who had been stranded in Liberia following suspension of flights to the West African country, arrived in the country on Tuesday and Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that they would be kept in isolation for 12 hours as their temperature is taken and blood screened for the virus. The nine were urged to exercise self quarantine for 21 days, a period in which health workers are expected to visit them daily to monitor their health status. The US Centre for Disease Con- trol has issued new guidelines on management of the people who had travelled to the most hard hit countries in West Africa calling for more “voluntary” than forced quarantine, where people are screened at the airports, given kits, allowed to go home and encouraged to take their temperatures twice a day “The new guidelines increase the level of protection by outlining different levels of exposure and outlining different public health actions that can be taken for each of those levels of exposure,” CDC director Dr Tom Frieden told reporters. “ “As a reminder, if someone is MAJOR COMMITTED PLEDGES As of Oct 20 World Bank United States African Development Bank Private donations United Kingdom Germany UN Emergency Fund Australia European Commission Switzerland China Kuwait Venezuela Sweden Japan Canada Denmark Picture: UNMEER $ millions 105.00 89.85 45.37 34.70 16.28 14.38 13.85 12.70 10.47 6.12 6.00 5.00 5.00 4.11 3.52 2.69 2.43 % of total 27.2 23.3 11.8 9.0 4.2 3.7 3.6 3.3 2.7 1.6 1.6 1.3 1.3 1.1 0.9 0.7 0.6 © GRAPHIC NEWS t≥ansmission of vi≥us The study published in the scientific journal eLife, estimates the total number of people at risk of zoonotic transmission of the virus in Uganda at 980,000, Tanzania 130,000 and Burundi 30,000. In Ethiopia and South Sudan, 80,000 and 30,000 people respectively, are at risk. Globally, the Democratic Republic of Congo has the highest number (11.7 million), followed by Nigeria (2 million), Cameroon (1.9 million), Guinea (1.4 million), Central African Republic (900,000), Cote d’Ivoire (460,000), Liberia (440,000), Sierra Leone (430,000), Gabon (310,000) and Republic of Congo (290,000). In total, 22 million people are predicted to live in areas suitable for zoonotic transmission of Ebola. not sick with fever or symptoms of Ebola, they are not contagious and can’t spread it to others. However, someone infected with Ebola may not show symptoms of illness for up to 21 days. The strongest public health measure we can take to protect each of us is to quickly isolate someone with symptoms of Ebola. These new measures I am announcing today will give additional levels of safety so that people who develop symptoms of Ebola are isolated early in the course of their illness. That will reduce the chance that Ebola will spread from an ill person to close contacts, and health care workers,” said Dr Frieden. Someone who had direct contact with infected body fluids, for instance, would be classified as high risk. Someone would be considered low risk if she travelled on an airplane with a person showing symptoms of Ebola. WHO has warned that the death rate in the Ebola outbreak that started in Guinea in 2013 has now risen to 70 per cent and there could be up to 10,000 new cases a week in two months. Fossil fuels o≥ ≥enewable ene≥gy? That is the policy question By MUTINDA MUNYAO The EastAfrican CHEAP FOSSIL fuels or capitalintensive renewable energy? That is the policy question countries that have recently discovered oil and gas are grappling with, amid a push by clean energy campaigners to adopt more renewable sources. Speakers at the IARU Sustain- ability Science Congress held in Copenhagen recently argued that there was a need for new policy models to lay more emphasis on clean energy and mitigate the effects of climate change. They promoted SWITCH, a free and open-access software created by American engineer Matthias Fripp to help policymakers and planners examine and predict the potential environmental impacts associated with technology in their regions. “With this tool, we can examine not only carbon emissions but also those of other greenhouse gases, and identify what and where impacts are likely to occur for a range of resources,” said Prof Daniel Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. The application captures as- pects of wind and solar variability and mitigation measures for such variability. Prof Kammen said that his laboratory is working on a SWITCH version for East Africa. “There is a need to move beyond a sole focus on mitigating the effects of climate change to reach solutions that consider global carbon reduction targets as well as local energy and environmental contexts,” said Alexis Laurent from the Technical University of Denmark. Kenya was recognised as one of the developing countries that have done well in developing clean energy projects. The $858 million Lake Turkana Wind Project was given a special mention at the conference as the world’s largest wind farm in the making. This, together with the Olkaria geothermal project and the off-grid solar projects in the country, was cited as a good sign of Kenya’s move towards sustainable clean energy even as oil companies continue to explore for fossil fuels. “Kenya has a fair amount of fos- sil fuels, but in terms of meeting domestic needs, it has more than enough renewables,” said Prof Kammen. “The cheapest form of on-grid power in Kenya is not oil, coal or natural gas; it’s geothermal.” The main reason Kenya is able to develop its energy resources is because of international investment, he added. “Today, it’s easier to get a con- A health worker at an Ebola treatement centre in Monrovia, Liberia Picture: File tract with a multinational company if you have oil, than wind energy,” said Prof Daniel Kammen, “but there is still a significant amount of investment money available for clean energy.” “There’s an opportunity cost of doing one versus the other, and at the point when the big markets in Europe, North America and China 39 Kenya has an opportunity to integrate its power strategies off the grid and on the grid. Picture: File will have shifted to renewables, Africa may be left behind with this infrastructure for fossil fuels that will not be valuable any more. So, if you can see the transition coming, it’s better to be at the front edge than at the back,” said Prof Kammen, who presented a paper titled “Low-Energy, Low-Carbon Futures — Challenges and Perspectives. The clean energy advocates said that if Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania — the East African countries that have discovered hydrocarbons — choose to exploit and use fossil fuels “before they go out of fashion,” they will attract billions of dollars in investment but when there is a global price on carbon, the region will not have done much about renewable energy. He, however, noted that this problem is not unique to East Africa. “In terms of meeting the popula- tion’s demand for energy, there has been debate the world over, over whether to use the inexpensive fossil fuels or expensive renewables. If you’re a poor country, then you choose the inexpensive fossil fuels. Alaska and Texas in the US, the Middle East and other countries have become rich by exporting fossil fuels. Are you going to tell Kenya it shouldn’t do it?” The scholars said the best way to promote clean power is to create a premium for it. “I believe that the premium for fossils is going down and the investment opportunity to sell power internationally will be better for renewables than for fossil fuels. I’ve seen programmes in Morocco and elsewhere talking about sending clean energy to Europe as an export commodity,” he said. A part of Kenya’s plan is to de- emphasise hydroelectric power because of climate change — and shift from 60 per cent hydro today to 60 per cent geothermal — the long term plan being to reduce hydropower to 30 per cent. “If you lock in your clean energy “Kenya has a fair amount of fossil fuels, but in terms of meeting domestic needs it has more than enough renewables.” in your economy, you secure your growth, because solar, wind and geothermal sources are much more reliable and you reduce your longterm bill for fossil fuels,” said Prof Kammen. Kenya, the researchers said, has an opportunity to integrate its power strategies off the grid and on the grid. “In this area, Kenya is also the world leader: It has the best system of mobile money, M-Pesa. The companies that sell off-grid solar will become larger users of M-Pesa than banking, and so pay as you go solar is the way to build up distributed renewable energy resources, and it is also something Kenya can export,” Prof Kammen said. The scholar made a controversial proposal: East Africa, especially Kenya, should adopt a low price on carbon. “Not $100, but if Kenya adopted a Ksh1,000 ($11.5) price on carbon that companies would need to pay but individuals would not, that would push investments in clean energy and drive energy efficiency.” Meanwhile, an unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is under way, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, experts say it could reduce the remaining large free-flowing rivers by about 20 per cent and pose a serious threat to freshwater biodiversity. “Hydropower is an integrated part of transitioning to renewable energy and currently the largest contributor of renewable electricity. However, it is vital that hydropower dams do not create a new problem for the biodiversity in the world’s freshwater systems, due to fragmentation and the expected changes in the flow and sediment regime,” said Prof Christiane Zarfl from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) in Berlin. Renewables account for 20 per cent of the global electricity production today, with hydropower contributing 80 per cent of the total share. An expected 3,700 major dams may more than double the total electricity capacity of hydropower to 1,700GW in the next two decades.
Oct 27th 2014
Nov 10th 2014