Earth Finds

Earth Finds

ICT Project To Aid Women Smallholder Farmers In Uganda, Kenya Launched

Although Uganda and Kenya are members of the East African Community (EAC), many small-scale farmers especially women have for so long not felt the impact of the regional bloc’s integration on their livelihood.

The problem has been blamed on the existing information gap related to agricultural produces market availability and economic opportunities the EAC integration offers to the smallholder farmers in the community.

It's on this background that small-scale farmers from Uganda and Kenya with support from development partners have launched an Integrated Information Communication Technology project. 

The project will help farmers to address the challenge of information flow related to agricultural products and the economic potential of the EAC countries, majorly Uganda and Kenya

The project code-named Kilimo Mart Application, an ICT application, will be developed to aid farmers to share information using Information Communication Technology gadgets such as mobile phones.

Through using the application, farmers will be in a position to access information related to markets for agricultural products.

According to Andrew Adem the program's Manager of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers' Forum (ESAFF) Uganda, if the application is well embraced by the sector holders, it will open many agro-business opportunities to the small farmers in the region.

“ESAFF Uganda in partnership with Kenya small-scale Farmers’ Forum (KESSFF) and with support from Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa( IIDEA), GIZ and the EAC will be implementing the project.

“The project will boost trade opportunities for agricultural products and services by promoting small-scale farmers’ access to markets and information in East Africa.

“This will create market opportunities for small-scale farmers and consumers to utilize the current trade prospects and share agricultural information using ICT,” he said in Statement.

He added that this project will play a very vital role in empowering women small -scale farmers hence improving household livelihood.

The Kilimo Mart Application is a 12 months project that will be jointly implemented by ESAFF Uganda and KESSFF with support from Development partners such as the African Union, GIZ IIDEA among other Development partners.

Although the East African Community and Common Market for the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has a combined population size of 606 million people, smallholder farmers particularly women feel they have not benefited such economic integrations.

Masudio Margaret, a small-scale farmer from Adjumani district, says the project will provide an opportunity for small-scale farmers who cannot access market most especially after the collapse of cooperatives that used to help them in marketing. She added that the EAC integration should present an opportunity to share market information and cross border trade.

Other farmers from Uganda said that East African members states should ensure that smallholder farmers tap into the opportunities that come alongside with the regional economic integration.

Masudio observed that many smallholder farmers are not aware of the regional integration which keeps them away from tapping on the wider opportunities the integration offers to them as farmers.

“The EAC integration is supposed to offer market opportunities to small scale farmers in the region but in many cases, small-scale farmers don’t feel the impact. For me, I only hear about the EAC market, and I feel that small scale farmers are left out; thus we are not benefiting from the EAC integration as they are not getting market opportunities.” Vicky Lokwiya, a small scale farmer from Gulu district in Northern Uganda, said.

Local Content Policies Set To Shape Energy Investments In Senegal

As Senegal’s first oil and gas projects are under-development and the first production is expected within two years, the African Energy Chamber conducted this week a working visit in Dakar to promote investment into the country and support local content development and capacity building.

Led by Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, the African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts and offered all its support to continue pushing and financing Senegal’s initiatives to build capacity and build a new generation of Senegalese oil & gas workers and managers.

“Oil companies have an unmatched ability, and a profound responsibility, to support H.E. Macky Sall’s bold vision in shaping an economy that works for all Senegalese and preserves their freedoms,” said NJ Ayuk.

The team met with H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies, Ousmane Ndiaye, Permanent Secretary of COS-Petrogaz; Aguibou Ba, Director General of the National Institute for Petroleum and Gaz (INPG) and the majority of the oil and gas operators and service companies.   

“Moving closer and closer to becoming a large-scale producer of oil and gas, Senegal’s story is an inspiring one. And, as a hotspot for oil and gas development, it is only fitting that the nation cements market-driven local content frameworks that are rooted in capacity building and are driven by the determination to transform practices in its energy sector,” declaired Nj Ayuk.

“That is why initiatives such as the INPG are important in ensuring that industry revenue benefits the state while also guaranteeing employment for citizens. The INPG is a true social contract bringing the private and public sector together to plan for a prosperous future for Senegal,” he added.

The Chamber’s working visit coincided with that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during which state-owned SENELEC and GE signed an agreement for the development of 300MW of gas-to-power capacity, the modernization of Senegal’s power plants and the creation of a maintenance centre in Senegal.

In line with the US’ interests to increase cooperation with Africa, the Chamber reiterated the industry’s call for continued improvements in the ease of doing business and better operating environments for foreign investors.

“President Trump dispatching Secretary of State Pompeo and US companies to Senegal is a brilliant move. US companies understand that investing in Senegal is good business and a sustainable corporate strategy.

President Macky Sall’s government has built on positive trends to maximize foreign investments. This includes a commitment to transparency, improving safety and security, strengthening the macroeconomic environment, investing in quality education and skill development in science, technology and innovation, and avoiding the Dutch disease,” added Ayuk.

Last year, the African Energy Chamber and Centurion Law Group hosted a local content forum in Senegal, calling attention to local content development in the country. The ongoing visit serves as a follow up and a showcase of the Chamber’s continued commitment to the growth and development of African economies through ensuring that Africa’s natural resources benefit Africa’s people first.

“Senegal’s emergence as a key player in the oil and gas industry has been remarkable and, as this growth continues to surge, it is important that local communities have a seat at the table, It is also important that we continue to create an enabling environment investors and the oil sector. Cutting unnecessary red tape and fast-tracking project approvals will give the energy operators a boost,” said NJ Ayuk.

“This, however, is a goal that is achievable only through the collaboration of the private and public sector. Local content is value creation and it is pertinent that Senegal put in place policies and frameworks that will see its people benefit from its hydrocarbon industry,” he added.

Last month, Woodside Energy got the green light for its $4.2bn Sangomar oil project, Senegal’s first offshore oil venture where the first production is expected in 2023, with a capacity to reach 100,000 bopd. The Phase 1 development concept for the Sangomar field is a stand-alone FPSO facility with subsea infrastructure. 

Meanwhile, works are ongoing at the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim FLNG project, whose phase 1 will see the commissioning of a 2.5 mtpa facility by 2022. This month, Kosmos Energy, BP, Petrosen and SMHPM signed an agreement with BP Gas Marketing for the supply of 2.45 mtpa of LNG over 20 years.

The MSGBC Basin has become sub-Saharan Africa’s hottest exploration frontier. Senegal is currently holding a licensing round to further attract investment into its acreages and boost existing reserves. The round is expected to generate tremendous interest from foreign investors and further confirm Senegal as a new African energy leader.

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Why Climate Change Is A Major Global Threat

By Isidoros Karderinis

The climate change, that is, the change of the global climate and in particular the changes in meteorological conditions that extend on a large time scale, is a major global existential threat.

The greenhouse effect causes the increase of temperature of the planet primarily due to the tremendous increase in carbon dioxide, which has increased by 35% since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

And of course, the lion's share in pollution of the atmosphere with 50% of all carbon dioxide have Europe and North America. All other countries together are responsible for the other half, while the poorest countries are the least responsible. However, the people who live in these countries it is they who will suffer more strongly of the consequences.

The causes of climate change are mainly identified in combustion of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gasoline, natural gas, etc.) which account for 50% of total emissions, in the production and use of synthetic chemicals, in disaster of forest areas which contributes to the production of additional gases in the atmosphere and of course to the greenhouse effect by 15% and in conventional agriculture and livestock farming, which account for 15% of emissions.

The expert scientists knock the danger bell and warn that if there is no urgent global coordinated action by political leaders, governments, industries and citizens around the world, the temperature of the planet is likely to rise above 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels by 2060 and the increase could even reach 5°C by the end of the twenty-first century, fact that will make the lives of future generations problematic.

Such an increase in the temperature of our planet will have a devastating impact on nature, bringing about irreversible changes in many ecosystems and consequent loss of biodiversity, that is, all living organisms and species that makeup life on the planet, that is, animals, birds, fish and plants (fauna and flora). Many species are expected to disappear from areas that will be directly and severely affected by climate change.

Today, compared to 1850 -from when recording data began- a temperature increase of 1.1°C is observed. So, it is vital importance, the increase not to exceed 1.5°C, because as scientists estimate, beyond this crucial point there will be no way back.

The climate change, however, which is due to human activities, is a tangible ominous reality and is already adversely affecting our planet. The sectors responsible for the production of greenhouse gases are primarily the sector of energy produce (units of production of electrical power, refineries) but also industrial activities, the modern means of transport (cars, airplanes, etc.) and the activities of the primary production sector.

So, the extreme weather events, the uncontrolled fires in forests such as the Amazon that have been characterized as the "lung" of the planet, the heat waves, the heavy rainfall, the prolonged droughts that create serious eating problems in the affected areas of the planet, the very powerful hurricanes, are becoming constantly more often and more intensively, costing tens of thousands of lives every year and causing huge disasters.

The ice at the same time and snow on the poles are melting, with the Arctic being the biggest victim to date, and the world average sea level goes up, as a result, to be caused floods and erosion on coasts and lowland coastal areas and to be created, environmental refugees. If this unfavourable development continues, areas such as the Netherlands and Venice will be at risk of being permanently lost under the sea waters as new Atlantis.

The climate change also increases existing diseases worldwide but also creates new ones, and can also lead to premature death. Too many diseases are particularly sensitive to temperature change. To them included communicable diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis and dengue fever, but also eating disorders, mental illnesses, cardiovascular diseases as well as respiratory diseases.

The climate change will also have negative impacts on the economies of the countries given the fact that the high temperatures undermine the productivity of most sectors of the economy, from the agricultural sector to processing. Valid scientists predict that by the end of the century, global GDP will have fallen by 7.22% from what it would have been without climate change.

The teenager Swedish activist against climate change, Greta Thunberg, has managed in the most vigorous and loud way to pass the debate over this huge problem, by the heads of state and government and public dialogue, in society and in the friendly discussions, mobilizing millions of people around the world, especially young people, who began to demonstrate demanding by governments the immediate taking of measures for the confrontation of climate change.

So, Swedish MPs rightly suggested her for the Nobel Peace Prize. And of course, Greta Thunberg has big right when she says that the measures are being taken to reduce greenhouse gases and, above all, carbon dioxide are not sufficient.

So, what are the appropriate measures to be taken without delay to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and keep the temperature at + 1.5°C?

The basic policies for resolutely mitigating of the problem consist in promoting and utilizing renewable energy sources (wind, solar, biomass, etc.), the enhancing energy efficiency, the drastic reduction of the exploitation of oil and gas deposits and the imposition of carbon taxes in order that to limit the use of fossil fuels and thereby to reduce significantly carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and eliminate them by 2050 at the latest, the rapid reduction of emissions of methane, carbon black and other short-lived pollutants that burden the climate, the restoration and protection of ecosystems and, above all, forests.

The Paris Agreement, the first universal, legally binding agreement for the climate, entered into force in 2016 with great optimism and manifest ambitions, despite the official US departure statement, which are one of the biggest polluters. Four years have passed since then and there are no substantial results, fact which raises serious questions as to whether there is really the political will to tackle this particularly threatening global problem.

In closing, I would like to emphasize that the effects of climate change will be so dramatic that human civilization will be in danger to collapse as a paper tower. So, in the face of this extremely dangerous climate crisis, the citizens around the world should increase their mobilization even further and the political leaders to finally stand up at the height of the circumstances and take immediately the necessary drastic measures, before it is too late, to reverse this unsustainable course and save the planet.

Isidoros Karderinis is a novelist, poet and columnist in Greece.

Victoria University Teams Up With Leading Indian Universities

Victoria University has signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) with leading universities from Gujarat State in India.

A delegation of officials from Ministry of Education and Gujarati India were at Victoria University campus located at Victoria Towers on Jinja Road in Kampala.

The purpose of the MoUs if to see that universities cooperate in areas of innovation, E-commerce, incubation programmes and technical support to start-ups.

The Indian delegation that visited Victoria University on Monday included Vibhavariben Dave, Minister of State for Education Department, Government of Gujarat, Anju Sharma IAS, Principal Secretary (edu) Government of Gujarat, High commissioner, Indian Embassy, Vice Chancellor, Dr Himanshu Pandya, Paresh Dave, Joint Director-of technical education, Rajesh Patel,  Representative of Marwadi University ( Lead University) and other 10 representatives from India.

Some of the Universities Victoria University has already entered into MoUs with, according to Businesss Focus, include GANAPAT University, MARWADI University and Sankalchand Patel University

The Victoria University Vice Chancellor, Prof. Krishna N. Sharma said Gujarat State has got 70 Universities but the government chose only top 16 to visit the fast-growing Victoria University.

“We had two categories of collaboration; one with the Ministry of Education where we have a collaboration called I-Hub or innovation Hub, so we have signed an intent of collaboration where we are going to do joint innovations, joint research and sharing resources etc,” he said.

Adding: “We are going to sign more MoUs with other universities tomorrow, we have special  scholarships for Victoria students and alumni and other areas are to explore opportunities  to do joint research, joint publications, exchange of staff and students.”  

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