Small Scale Wind Energy – A call for papers

Via Afriwea

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An International Workshop on Small Scale wind energy For Developing Countries will be held
September 14-16, 2009, Nairobi, Kenya
The workshop will cover the following main themes:

Wind energy technologies, their perspectives and applications in developing countries,

Reliability of wind turbines, lifetime and strength of wind turbine components,

Low cost and natural materials for wind turbines,

Case studies, social and economic aspects of wind energy in developing countries.

Abstract Submission

Please submit a two-page abstract (700-800 words, in MS Word format) by e-mail to haqi [at] risoe[dot]dtu[dot]dk no later than March 15, 2008. Authors will be notified of the Committee’s
decisions shortly thereafter.


All participants are requested to register before March 20, 2009. The registration fee is 200 EURO
for participants from developed countries, and 1200 Kenyan shillings for the participants from
developing countries
. After March 21, 2009, the registration fee increases to 350 EURO (developed
countries) and 3000 Kenyan shillings (developing countries), respectively. The payment of the
registration fee should be made either by credit card (Euro, Master or Visa), or by bank transfer.
Finally, after June 15, 2009, we take additionally late-registration fee of 70 EURO and 1000
shillings, for developed and developing countries respectively. The registration includes the access
to the sessions, coffee/refreshment and lunch/dinner.

Download the Workshop2009.pdf here.

PS: please stop laughing at the logo. My explanation, a lion was standing near a wind turbine, it farted a lightbulb or had a brilliant idea.

Opportunities for Physics students interested in RE (Renewable Energy) – Africa

Please see the info below, you can send an email to Spelly DOT Ramoshaba AT za DOT fujitsu DOT com

I am looking for Physics students who are interested in Masters and PhD
studies in the field of renewable energy technologies, ICT and/or material
science (building materials).
I have lucrative bursaries for the students of
up to R100 000pa for Masters and R150 000pa for PhD for the period of 2
years at masters and 3 years at PhD. The bursary will increase annually
based on certain deliverables from the student. There is also an opportunity
for them to do contract work for Eskom with us and top up their annual
bursaries to above R250 000 for PhD and above R150 000 for Masters. I am
trying to get some people from previously disadvantaged groups but I do not
know anyone there, so if you know someone who might benefit from this
lucrative offers, even if its not someone from previously disadvantaged
groups, give them my contact details below.

This is a very urgent call because the money is lying somewhere and we need
to provide proof of students registration to get it to our account.

I will appreciate your assistance.
Sampson Mamphweli
Researcher (Renewable Energy)
Fort Hare Institute of Technology
Tel: +2740 602 2311
Fax: +27866659221
Mobile: +27822140367

Usual disclaimer: I am just passing the information along, please do your own due diligence when contacting the person.

Update: The Acumen fund fellowship program is accepting applications, the deadline for that is October 20th 2008. For more info, click here.

Some notes on the DEMO video (long)

Well, when I started blogging I never thought a video of me talking at a panel was part of the deal, its quite strange watching yourself and getting self conscious about the whole thing. OMG mom! I am on the equivalent of TV! Lame lines aside; Erik has the video, I cant get myself to embed the video on my blog yet. I feel like Mike, that i could have done more. Some of the things I mentioned might seem a bit esoteric, so i will add some links and mention a few things i think i should have included at the panel.

OLPC: This computer has been the subject of discussions with Erik, Steve, JKE, Maitha and others for awhile now, several years actually. Erik’s post in 2005, my post in 2006 and even more recently regarding the keyboard design. It seems like we have lived through the project since it was a concept to its current reality. My thoughts on it have fluctuated, from the posts I wrote in the past, I was really gung ho about the thing. I still am on some level, as I do appreciate that I wouldn’t be where I am, were it not for access to computers (and power actually) during my formative years. This is what i wanted to say…

I was listening to the digital planet podcast (11/26) where they had a correspondent attend the launch of the OLPC in Abuja, Nigeria. You could hear the excitement and enthusiasm in the children’s voices as they spoke of what they would do with the OLPC. It was a great moment. Now to the questions that started popping into my head like Orville Redenbachers microwave popcorn. When Gareth Mitchell was talking to Bill Thompson, they mentioned how they attended the OLPC launch in Tunis and how a child was crying because they’d been given an OLPC to play with for a time, then it was taken away. That was not a good moment, rather sad really, that kid is probably traumatized right now wherever he or she may be. I mean isn’t that just a little cruel? I know i would wail like a banshee if i was in her shoes. The discussion segued into what it would mean for the children to have a laptop that they would call their own. This got me wondering, that perhaps one of the unintended consequences of the OLPC project is that it would enhance the idea of ‘mine’ rather than ‘ours’. In modern Africa do the age old African values of community and sharing still apply? Would the OLPC idea chip away at the ‘utu’, that is a societal benchmark? Is the Ndiyo project a better thought out model for computer literacy, what with the idea of USB thin clients that I am already a fan of?

I should add that I think the Ndiyo model of networked computing could be well suited for school situations. This is because of two reasons.
1. Cost – The class sizes in Kenya increased owing to the free primary schooling offered by the government. Having a networked model enables more students to get basic computer literacy, as they can share the computer lab resources. This is particularly apt i think because the OLPC project was geared towards schools in the developing world.
2. This i already mentioned above…the idea of ‘my laptop’. The OLPC can be shared between students…but if you have a class of 30 children and 28 OLPC’s someone will undoubtedly get disappointed.On the other hand, as Steve mentioned in the post on OLPC Keyboard..i will reiterate his comment here, because i think its very important.

Some thoughts: you ask “Maybe I am looking at this all wrong, Is Negroponte pimping the â??education projectâ?? in pursuit ofâ?¦what?”. Well, maybe the answer is indeed in plain sight. Maybe he just wants to provide technology access to the masses like he keeps telling us he wants to.
And here is another thought for you: if the OLPC team did indeed go to Nigeria to look for inspiration for the design of the product, it is heartening that they are looking to the populations that will actually use these products for design and usability clues instead of sitting in Boston or LA or wherever and saying “hey, thats what the kids/world/users/consumers need”.
I have in the last month or so found myself increasingly frustrated with this attitude to design and product creation when I have to “fix” my computer for my 4 year old who wants to use it but cannot understand why in the world Windows keeps doing stuff and getting in his way.
Find out what your users need and want and give it to them. End of story.

Though i haven’t had a chance to play with the OLPC, I am sure its a fine product. From Steve’s comment i think the OLPC should just be marketed as a low cost computer for those interested to buy for their children/themselves, and not specifically geared towards governments purchasing them for schools. The Give one Get one campaign was nice…but how were the ‘given’ laptops distributed? What rationale? I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but I think that at a price like $100 how about seeing some free-market action going on in Africa? That is a whole other AID Vs TRADE debate right there.

On the power to charge OLPC: There is a larger question of power in Africa, which i won’t get into right now (though i will in the coming weeks) For a glimpse of the opportunity, Idris Mohammed mentioned the great opportunity in power generation during last years’ TEDGlobal. More here, and whenever his talk is posted, it will be on the TED site here. Erik did mention that there is a cranking device that can be used to power the OLPC, and browsing the power supply tab on OLPC news shows some novel and innovative approaches to solving the power problem. From a cow dynamo to something i like…the OLPC solar mesh repeater.
The company i referred to in the video is called Verviant. It is based in Nairobi and helps small to medium sized businesses in the East Coast of US to maximize on limited IT budgets. In speaking with Onesmus Kamau of Verviant, he indicated that the company was able to deploy a video management system that will save their client $500,000. It is but one example of the opportunity in outsourcing web development, database management, and software development in general. This infoworld article (albeit a few months old) mentions the hot spots for this being Ghana, Egypt, South Africa and Rwanda. I would also recommend watching Carol Pineau’s movie ‘Africa Open for Business’ if you haven’t already. The blogger Nii Simmonds, who will be speaking at SXSW writes about business in Africa,including outsourcing. His blog ‘Nubian Cheetah’ is a good resource, as is Emeka Okafor’s Timbuktu Chronicles. The PSD blog is also another good resource…(links to other outsourcing references are quite welcome, do chime in on the comments)

Mobile Phone Tech: I think between Mike, and Erik we covered this o.k. A sim card/chip costs less than a dollar…and the phone with a flashlight that I was referring to in the video looks like this.
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On cell phone reach, here is one example of celtel’s reach illustrated in a post from a Zambian economist. My little screed last year about the iphone hints at the fact that i totally love the fact that you can choose whichever carrier you like when in Kenya/most parts of Africa. Its just a matter of switching sim cards and not having to worry about whether your phone will work or not. Most if not all the handsets in Kenya are unlocked.

On the parting shot: Customization and allowing for grassroots creativity. I wanted to mention that this idea is illustrated best by Chris Nikolson,in an NYT article, and context was added by one of my favourite bloggers ‘African Uptimist. Please see this post. It has some great examples that show how the idea (a strategic one at that) is implemented in the field. I felt like my brain had some speedbumps and for some reason Chris Nikolson’s name completely disappeared from my head. I think his quote is so important, let me amplify it again here if I may…

The best results are achieved when you move with the natural flow of grassroots creativity. Often, this means abandoning or suppressing preconceived notions, and building on spontaneous and creative adaptations of the new technology by local people to meet their needs.

One more link…Guy Lundy’s ‘Future Fit’ – An African futurist to watch.

A Brief DEMO Redux

I am honored to have been part of the Africa Panel at DEMO 08 which happened yesterday. Erik and Mike did an awesome job of blogging about the sessions. My sincere thanks to Chris Shipley and Erica Lee for having us.

There were so many interesting exhibitors, you can explore a full list and find more information about the cool stuff that launched. I will highlight just a few of the products and services that stood out for me.

The first one is Green Plug – A charger that can be used for multiple devices. Their tag line is “One plug, one planet”. Think of the many chargers you have to carry with you, and when you abandon a device, that charger ends up in a landfill somewhere. The Green plug eliminates the need to carry multiple chargers. The small chip pictured here makes it all happen.
Green plug

Asankya Hypermesh Network
Forget the current OSPF and BGP routing of packets, this company optimises content delivery by in their own words…

…Using a breakthrough technique for transporting packets over multiple network paths, it enables delivery of real-time content consistently and at a high quality over the Internet.

It is geared towards ISP’s and larger content delivery companies, but from their demo it seems their products could useful for those building new networks and want higher quality video delivery than is currently being offered. I thought of the now delayed EASSYproject that would have brought fibre optic backbone to Kenya…:( and to step back to something i had written last year about building network of networks, in time, it would be great to revisit how this new technology could help in low bandwidth areas or in new network systems being implemented in Africa.

“Cooling the planet one project at a time”

Celsias is all about doing something practical to reduce climate change
On Celsias, you can read a widely-recognized climate change blog, review practical projects from all over the world and meet the coolest people who share your passion for stopping human-induced global warming. If you want to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty, register on the site, create a project, then recruit people or funding to get your project off the ground.

I think i may have taken too many pics, you can browse through them on this flickr set.

Africa RE News Roundup

Its been a minute since i did one of these, well here goes:
There is lots happening in the Renewable energy (RE) field in Africa. From various sources, here are a few hits that have crossed my virtual desk.
From AfriWea,
Can you set up a 120MW wind power plant? If so, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation (EEPC) wants you. Interested companies can submit their proposals before Feb. 4th 2008. Please see attached PDF for the information.

An exhaustive article about wind power in South Africa, click on this cool graphic.


What is becoming more and more apparent is that there is a unique opportunity for the growth of a serious renewable-energy industry in South Africa, given growing security of demand and a desire to reduce the countryâ??s carbon footprint. But what is also plain is that unless government and Eskom take an active role in its promotion, the full potential for renewables will not be realised.

From Business Daily Africa:
Wind Energy driving Rural Growth
The article also includes a picture of Simon Mwacharo, the owner of craftskills, TEDster, and friend of the blog.

Simon Mwacharo knows one or two things about moving under the feet of the big boys and girls to be the first on the cash till. While KenGen is scheming in the boardroom on how to meet the rising demand for electricity, Mwacharo is on the ground, providing hundreds of homes with electricity generated from the wind.

June this year, i used the pun ’emPowering’ in this post, glad to know that i am not the only corny one: From Off-Grid. net comes a neat post ’emPowering Africa’
Alternative Energy African

Mozambique University has launched a local program to encourage renewable energy self sufficiency that may become a model across the continent.

From Newscientist: Solar water purifier distributed by Rotary international.
water purifier

The solar water purifier collects heat from sunlight and uses it to evaporate unpurified water running through the panel. The vapour collects inside the glass forming the panel’s surface and is collected – leaving behind most impurities

hat tip Emeka
Update: Cant believe i almost forgot about this video. William Kamkwamba was featured on WSJ!

end of brief roundup.

Solar Accessories:
Here is a link to a not so flattering post about the solar charger Solio (take it with a grain of salt) I haven’t tried Solio, but mysoldius worked really well for me.

So i finally bought a voltaic backpack. I was worried about traveling with it, especially when going through airport security. The screeners were fascinated about it, asking lots of questions. Joel Johnson of BoingBoing gadgets had mentioned that he had no problems traveling with it – My experience was the same. No issues at all, actually its a great conversation starter.
Initial envy from the geeks at my friend’s office in Kenya – Very High!

Lighting Africa Grant Competition Launches today

lighting Africa image

Lighting Africa (LA) is a joint World Bank (IBRD) and International Finance Corporation (IFC) initiative aimed at developing the market for off-grid lighting in Africa and providing poor households and small businesses with access to modern, clean and affordable lighting products.

The grant competition is open to a variety of organizations, from entrepreneurs, LED suppliers and NGO’s. Click here for more information about the grant competition and here for the forum where you can ask questions about the grants process; It is also a B2B portal of sorts.

Via Core 77

Odds and Ends

Pardon the light posting…my attention has been diverted a bit to a couple of gigs that are keeping me away from the blog. While i get my schedule rearranged and all that good stuff…Please head on over to

Afrigadget for a very Afro-cool post from Henry Addo

A ’10 questions’ interview of Steve ‘Ntwiga’ and Afrigadget team at the Sietch.

Subscribe to the Global Voices podcasts

Check the site of the Afro-preneurs who are holding an event… (that i hope someone blogs or tweets for us who are away)

TIDE (Technology, Innovation, Design
and Everything)- Innovation Series Event *this Saturday September 1st,
10-12pm at Grand Regency. The guest speaker will be Joseph Mucheru, Google
Kenya CEO. The entrance charge is Kshs.1000. This talk is open to all
persons and is not a technology only event, it will focus on innovation in
Africa from a business and entrepreneur point of view.

Last but not least, check out the 5 dollar solar thermal water heater from Instructables (Requires modification).

I almost forgot…you have got to watch Vusi Mahlasela. From Ted Blog

AOB – Agony is: finding your web host’s site has been hacked into. 🙁 so if the blog is not reachable, i have a backup, i am keeping my fingers crossed that it gets sorted soon.

Wind Energy Resources & RE News Tidbits

Via Leonardo Energy,
The Wind Turbine buyers guide [PDF]: “The article discusses small wind system components, wind turbine basics, and understanding the ratings. It also shows photos of the small wind turbines and lists several specifications for each.”

Via AfriWea
GVEP International receives a 2 million pound grant for a project in East Africa. GVEP’s role is, according to their site

… providing financial support, capacity building and technical assistance to energy SMEs in developing countries. Using funding from the Russian Government, GVEP intends to set up two Regional Funds in West and East Africa to build local energy supply chains and grow economic development from the bottom up.

The list of other organizations in Africa receiving grants from Europe aid can be found here. [PDF]. Some of the organizations in Kenya on the list include:
Kenya Arid Land Development Focus – Renewable energy in Wajir
Kenya Tana and Athi rivers Development Authority – Community based mini hydropower development in upper tana river basin
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) – Up scaling the smaller biogas Plants

“The Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus has announced plans to invest $234m (£115m) in solar energy. Archbishop Chrysostomos II said the church would build a factory that would make photo-voltaic panels to capture the sun’s energy.” – Now that is a faith based initiative i could get behind.

Fun from The Daily show with Jon Stewart: An awesome lampoon of the Cape Wind project in Nantucket. Big wigs don’t want it because it will presumably ruin their long range view from their mansions.

Clean Drinking Water Pumped by Wind Energy!

This installation in Chifiri, in North Eastern province Kenya is an example of how wind and solar installations can be used to provide the needs of marginalized communities in arid and semi-arid areas.
Chifiri Wind Turbine
Simon Mwacharo, TEDGlobal speaker and renewable energy innovator has written about it in wonderful detail and provided pictures. Read more about it here.

The turbine also provides some power to the nearby manyattas (traditional samburu huts), Simon noticed a Japanese guy camped out near the turbine. That was the only place he could charge his laptop and phone!

Do note that next week, the TEDGlobal talks will premiere on Subscribe in itunes by searching for tedtalks and also check the TED blog for a series of posts from bloggers who attended the conference. A piece i wrote is is alread posted on the TED blog, Like Emily said ‘This is the bloggers story to tell’, because there wasn’t as much coverage of it in the mainstream news. I hope you enjoy the talks.