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Five projects that may change Africa

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A herd of elephants in the KAZA area.

A herd of elephants in the KAZA area.

With the recent tragedy in Nairobi it would easy to give up on Africa as a basket case.  But Africa is huge and complex.  To counteract that impression, I’d like to summarize an article I found in the French version of the magazine Geo (September 2012, not available on line, unfortunately).

The article is entitled: five projects that will change Africa.

The projects:

  •  Last year KAZA TFCA, the largest protected zone of the planet was created, a wild area of over 300,000 km2 straddling the borders of Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe.  This area should help preserve over 300 species of plants, 600 species of birds and 200 species of mammals.  While there are problems (it’s a region densely populated, and local conflicts over land use occur), there’s reason for optimism.
  • A 1300 km long canal to save Lake Chad has recently been restarted.  The chances of success of this project remain mitigated; the Ubangi River, from which the canal water is to be diverted, is itself in bad shape.
  • The Great Green Wall is an initiative to fight desertification by planting a fifteen kilometer wide strip with drought resistant trees such as acacias from Senegal to Ethiopia, over 7000 km long.  It has started in Senegal through the Tessekere region.  If successful, it will also sequester carbon and defend against climate change effects.
  • Solar panels are deployed in Morocco (a full 12 km2) and plugged into the electric grid.  The project, called Desertec, is to export the bulk of its electricity to Europe, with the overall objective of producing 15% of the European demand.  (Because of the European angle, some consider this project ecolonialism; it is currently stalled as Morocco is now funding a competing project for domestic electricity production.) The project is based on the calculation of the German physicist Gerard Knies, who found that solar captors covering 0.75% of the Sahara could provide all the electricty required from Morocco to Egypt while leaving a considerable surplus for European exports.
  • A 300 MW wind farm (365 windmills) is under construction near the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya.  It is projected to meet 20% of the elctricity demand of the country, at a rate lower than what Kenyans currently pay.

These projects may not all be successful, nor, with their size, proceed without obstacles.  But it shows that there is a side of Africa that is visionary and full of hope. 

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Written by enviropaul

September 29, 2013 at 5:52 pm

One Response

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  1. On a smaller scale, look at what is being done with water hyacinth in Kenya. There are new projects to make it into biogas. At the villager’s scale. it can be briquetted, and burned in the new lower pollution stoves that produce charcoal as a byproduct. That charcoal can then be used as fuel(displacing trees!) or as biochar to improve the local soil. See it done by ACON in Bungoma, Kenya!

    Stephen Klaber

    September 30, 2013 at 6:17 am


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