Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chinafrica (23) Watching for PRC Influence in Africa

China, Africa ever closer 60 years on
The Southern Times (So. Africa)
Sunday, September 27, 2009

By Ma Guihua

In 1956, seven years after New China was founded, Egypt became the first country in Africa to recognize China and forge diplomatic relations with the young People's Republic. Now, 53 years on, as China is celebrating its 60th anniversary, China has befriended 47 of the 53 countries on the continent.

What is more, in an ever more globalized world, the traditional brotherhood between China and African countries in the yesteryears have been updated to a "strategic" partnership, with richer connotations.

This new partnership, formulated by Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2006 at the peak of the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation when 48 heads of African countries met in Beijing for their largest gathering, spells out the principles to bring China, the world's largest developing country, and Africa, the largest continental concentration of developing countries, together as the two sides see more common interests in the new era.

The strategic partnership secured in the political document of Beijing Declaration highlights equality and mutual trust in political affairs, mutual benefit and win-win solution in economic cooperation, and cultural interaction to promote mutual understanding and friendship, in a bid to push for a more harmonious international order.

As Hu Jintao said at the opening ceremony of the Beijing summit, the new China-Africa strategic partnership is not only called for by the increasing China-Africa cooperation, but also a necessity for world peace and development.

Ever since China's reform and opening up in 1978, huge productivity has been unleashed in China, which has sustained a two-digit growth rate for well over the last decade. The economic boom powered by a market economy with Chinese characteristics has lifted over 230 million rural Chinese out of poverty, making the country the first in the world to accomplish the UN Millennium Goal for poverty reduction.

While savoring the fruits of its own growth, China has never forgotten its obligations to the African brothers, thanks largely to their support, China resumed its legal seat at the United Nations in 1971.

Over the past 50 odd years, China has offered aid to 53 African countries with about 800 projects, constructing over 2,000-kilometer of railroad, 3,000-kilometer of highway, sending medical teams that amounted to 15,000 person times, treating some 240 million patients.

The projects, to the tune of 6 billion U.S. dollars and with no strings attached, sometimes were carried out when China itself was suffering economic difficulties.

Five years since the inauguration of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation, China had again relieved 31 African countries of 10.9 billion yuan (1.36 billion U.S. dollars) worth of debt.

China "feels indebted to" the African people, said Premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Egypt in 2006. "We should never remember the benefits we have offered nor forget the favor received," Wen added, quoting an old Chinese proverb.

China's economic success has been great inspiration to Africa, a continent slowly recovering from the ravage of war and famine with a growing rate at around 5% in the past years, higher than the world average.

"As Africans demonstrate renewed resolve to address the challenges confronting their continent, they can benefit greatly from the experience of their friends in China, who have had such success in sustaining growth and reducing poverty," said Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General on the occasion of the Beijing summit.

He hailed the grand gathering in Beijing "a historic opportunity for China and Africa to build on these shared ideals, and to advanced South-South cooperation."

In 2006, China pledged to increase its aid to Africa by one fold in 2009 and endeavored to bring bilateral trade to 100 billion U.S. dollars by 2010.

Three years on, despite the global financial crisis, China has kept its promises. In 2008, bilateral trade rose to 108 billion U.S. dollars, almost doubling the figure in 2006. Nearly half of the African countries have expanded their exports to China by over 50 percent.

China-Africa Development Fund is in operation; debt relief is half way through; zero-tariff for 454 types of commodities are on the way; work on the Africa Union Center has started; the first trade and economic zone, malaria prevention and treatment center, and an agricultural demonstration center are all ready for work.

Since 1980s, China has shifted its aid to Africa from simple relief through goods and cash, dubbed "blood transfusion", to development-oriented relief such as training, technology and knowledge transfer, to focus more on capacity building, which is essential to Africans developing Africa.

As an emerging economy, China is increasingly aware of its obligation to the international community. China was the first country to clearly propose and promote the three-party mechanism on Darfur. It is also the first country beyond Africa to send peacekeeping forces to the Darfur region in Sudan.

As a responsible power, China has given its full support to United Nations missions in Africa, sending so far more than 800 peacekeeping troops to war-torn countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia.

However, China's increasing involvement in Africa plus its principle of non-interference into the political affairs of African countries is sometimes viewed in a different light, certain western critics even called it "neo-colonialism".

Bill Durodie, associate fellow with the Royal Institute of International Affairs, United Kingdom, said in 2008 at a conference in London that China's trade and investment in Africa benefits not only Africans, but the Europeans and the United States as well.

"African countries that have been growing at 5-6 percent for a decade need new roads, power stations, hospitals, schools and manufactured goods,' he said, adding "Unlike others in the region, the Chinese have a reputation for paying promptly and well."

According to Durodie, Western countries' criticizing on China's new role and impact on Africa is a sign of the Western imagination's inability to view Africans as capable of dealing with their own problems and the West's obsession with viewing China as malign.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, also noted in his a speech at the 2006 Beijing summit: "We hold that the establishment of a new type of strategic partnership is both the shared desire and independent choice of China and Africa, serves our common interests, and will help enhance solidarity, mutual support and assistance and unity of the developing countries and contribute to durable peace and harmonious development in the world."

Indeed, the new China-Africa strategic partnership will carry the two sides far into the future and, for all to see. —, China Features.


Community Rights Law, Best for the nation?

Just last week, the House of Representatives has concurred with the Senate to pass into law the Community Rights Law.

Montserrado Representative Thomas Fallah told Star Radio the Community Rights Law was in the best interest of the nation. The Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee welcomed the decision of the House and said it was long overdue.


Of course the law gives the "Communities" the rights to manage the forest. In turn the Community generates income from investment of the forest. This is then, in theory leads to better forest management.

If you believe this, leave a comment (but read the article below first)

At a time when Europeans are lining up for our forest resources keep in mind that the Community Rights Law provides a means of consolidating blocks of land making it much more useful to large foreign agro concerns.


Rice Farmers May Be Evicted By New Biofuel Companies (Tanzania)
Mike Mande
28 September 2009


Nairobi — Tanzania farmers in key arable areas face eviction by multinational corporations out to cultivate agrofuel products.

More than 5,000 rice farmers from various parts of the country could be affected.

This will trigger an environmental and humanitarian crisis as displaced villagers are left without land to grow food crops.

A new report made available to The EastAfrican last week by an international environmental group warns that Tanzania's water sources, so critical to food production, will also be diverted to fuel production, increasing conflicts over access to water.

The report was compiled by a local environmental group, the Environmental, Human Rights Care and Gender Organisation (Envirocare) Tanzania, and an international organisation, the Impact of Jatropha Trade in Tanzania.

It says the government has few qualms about evicting farmers from their only means of livelihood, even if this sparks civil conflict.

According to the report, the government wants to fast-track agrofuel initiatives and switch vast areas of land to sugarcane, palm oil and jatropha production, pushing out locals to poorer lands.

"The most fertile lands, with best access to water, are being targetted, even though they are already used for food production by small-scale farmers," said the report.

Abdallah Mkindi, environmental officer of Envirocare Tanzania, said that the country plans to place extensive areas under biofuel cultivation, including sugar plantations in the Wami River Basin, displacing small-scale rice farmers.

Mr Mkindi said that with the country routinely depending on imported food aid, owing to frequent drought, producing fuel for export instead of food for locals will deepen poverty and food insecurity in the years to come.

He said more than 1,000 rice farmers in Wami Basin, Coast region, a vast area in the alluvial flood and delta plain of the Wami River and its distributaries, and another 1,000 rice farmers in Ruipa, Mtwara region, will be displaced to pave the way for cane growing.

"The Usangu plains, another area identified for potential sugarcane production, have already seen the government's willingness to accommodate large investors at the expense of small-scale farmers," he said.

In Usangu district in Mbeya region, more than 1,000 rice farmers were recently displaced from their land to make way for a large plantation. The plantation has cut off the surrounding communities' access to the river, leading to disputes over water.

According to Mr Mkindi, several international investors are looking at fertile areas with good rainfall and access to rivers, particularly for sugarcane and palm oil cultivation.

The targetted areas include Ruipa, Ikongo, Mahurungu-Mtwara, Usangu plains, Malagarasi, Kilosa, Babati and Hanang in Tanzania.

But analysts have pointed out the discrepancy between the government's stated aim of using biofuels to bring energy to the rural poor, and the policy of evicting them from their land.

Currently, there is no biofuel policy, nor any legislation to govern its direction and production in Tanzania.

Under the guidance of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, a Biofuels Task Force was established in April 2006 to develop the sector and push for legislation to stimulate the use of biofuels. This followed a study on "Liquid Biofuels for Transportation in Tanzania."

A Swedish firm has been provided with 400,000 hectares of land to turn into sugar plantation at Wami River in Coast region, while more than 8,000 hectares of land in Kigoma region have been provided to a Malaysian and Indonesian firm for a proposed palm oil biodiesel project.

"Oil palms require major investment, and the trees can live for 30 years or more. Farmers entering into contracts to plant and grow palm trees may be forced to sign away use of their land for many decades," warned Mr Mkindi.

The firms that are in the final stages of cultivating biofuel include D1 Oils Tanzania Ltd, a local subsidiary of the UK company D1 Oils.

It plans to use outgrowers and to have biodiesel processing stations in every district in Tanzania.

A German investor, Prokon, has begun a 10,000 hectare jatropha outgrower programme in Mpanda district in southwest Tanzania.

Diligent Energy Systems, a Dutch company with branches in Tanzania and Colombia, has began cultivation of jatropha in Babati, Engaruka, Chalinze, Pangani and Singida and large-scale cultivation in Handeni district of Tanga region.

The report also mentions a UK-based international firm, Sun Biofuels, which has acquired 18,000 hectares of land in Lindi region to cultivate jatropha.

"Farmers who currently grow cassava, rice and maize will be encouraged to abandon food crops and instead grow jatropha," noted Mr Mkindi in the report.

Mr Mkindi said that, in addition, a US-UK group, a Malaysian group and a US-based venture fund are currently exploring more than 100,000 hectares for palm oil production.

To attract more investors, the government of Tanzania has analysed many fertile regions with good access to water, where farmers are already growing food.

Stephen Wasira, Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Co-operatives, said various regions of Tanzania were facing food shortages and about 970,000 people were in need of aid.

Hence the government has to make arrangements to distribute about 50,000 tonnes of food to the affected areas by September this year.

Mr Wasira said the government is cautioning farmers on food shortages and appealing for more concerted efforts to ensure delivery of at least one million tonnes of grain to avert starvation.

The food deficiency resulted from last year's insufficient cereal harvests, whereby 5.2 million tonnes were collected as opposed to the projected national demand of 6 million tonnes for the 2009/2010 crop season.

The National Food Reserve Authority had stockpiled over 107,269 tonnes of cereals required for 2009/2010, but by June this year the stock had declined to 89,842 tonnes.

The Tanzania Investment Centre has set up a land bank of 2.5 million hectares identified as suitable for agrofuel investment.

Where use of local resources is perceived as unproductive, land may be classified as idle or underutilised. It could, therefore, be made available to prospective investors, despite its economic, social and cultural functions.

While investment promotion agencies may help bring underutilised land into production, doing so creates the risk of dispossession.

A British firm that has taken over a 9,000-hectare area for jatropha cultivation in Kisarawe district, in which more than 11 villages have given out their land, wants farmers to abandon food crops.

According to the report, the villagers have been compensated for mango and cashewnut trees on the land without regard to the market price of the land.

"The farmers have not been made fully aware of issues such as the genuine value of their land and the consequences of giving it up," said the report.

The Holland based agrofuel firm Bioshape, a subsidiary of Bioshape Holdings, Holland, has applied to acquire about 81,000 hectares of land from the four villages of Mavuji, Liwiti, Migeregere and Nainwoke in Kilwa district, Lindi region.

But land officials say they have processed the purchase of only 34,736 hectares.

According to Mr Mkindi, the firm is in the process of paying $250,000 to the District Council, with the funds to be shared between the District Council (60 per cent) and the local communities (40 per cent).

"If they were to acquire the total 81,000 hectares they would pay $1.023 million. Bioshape is planning to use 60 per cent of the total land in plantation batches of 200ha plots and to maintain a 40 per cent buffer zone of natural vegetation, animal free zones, hills and wetlands, as well as thick forest," said Mr Mkindi.

Copyright © 2009 The East African. All rights reserved.


Friday, September 25, 2009

ArcelorMittal in the News

Mittal dismisses pollution claims in South Africa

By CELEAN JACOBSON, Associated Press Writer Celean Jacobson, Associated Press Writer
September 26
VANDERBIJLPARK, South Africa - Strike Matsepe used his life savings to buy a small plot of land near the country's biggest steel mill, hoping it would become a thriving farm in his old age. Now, weathered and sick, the 80 year old has had to abandon his dream - the land and ground water are so polluted his cattle have died and crops failed.

On Friday, ArcelorMittal SA, the world's largest steel marker, dismissed allegations of severe environmental damage and unethical business practices at the mill. In 2002, the company took over the 67-year-old plant that residents and environmental groups say has polluted their lives.
Company officials acknowledge there is air and water pollution but say that emissions comply with legislation and that clean-up operations are under way. They also say there are regular meetings with communities to address their concerns.

Nearly 500 families used to live on the farmlands known as Steel Valley, opposite the mill's mountainous waste dump. Only four families, including Matsepe's, continue to hold onto land.
A series of legal challenges and out-of-court settlements have resulted in buyouts of farms, and many people have moved away.

"This is a David and Goliath story," sociologist Jacklyn Cock said. "This is about the power of the corporation. ArcelorMittal has had an impact not only on air and water quality but people have lost their livelihoods and lives."
Matsepe, who bought the farm in 1992, has refused efforts by the steel mill to buy his land. He wants the polluters brought to justice and for him to be adequately compensated.

"If I die now, my wife will get nothing because my pension is gone and my cattle. Everything I worked for is gone now, and my children will get nothing of the labor of my hands," Matsepe said.

The 5,683 acre (2,300 hectare) Vanderbijlpark plant is situated in the country's industrial heartland about 45 miles (70 kilometers) south of Johannesburg. Smoke billows from its chimney stacks and fine black dust blows from the dump.

Environmental experts say ground water has been contaminated by toxins that cause disease and birth defects. The company has also faced charges of price-fixing, and a case relating to market collusion is pending.

Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal is the target of a global campaign by environmental groups to ensure European multinationals are liable for the social and environmental impacts of their subsidiaries.

On Thursday about 20 former residents of the valley gathered in a makeshift shed on Matsepe's property to recount their experiences to a group of international journalists and environmental activists.

They spoke about how animals were born deformed and how tea would foam when they poured milk into it. Clothes would be bleached of their colors after washing; tins of food and even metal window frames would rust away.

"My oldest daughter has three different kinds of cancer. All my children are sick, and what is really frightening is that my grandchildren are also sick. This is from, I believe, where we stayed," said Joey Cock, 71.

At a later meeting, former employers spoke of terrible burns and injuries, and unresolved compensation and pension claims. Some have been retrenched and face eviction from their homes. Others stay without water or electricity in rundown hostels owned by the company.
Many spoke of intimidation and said they felt used - like a "tool."

The company denies it has neglected its employers and says many improvements have been made - and more are planned - to reduce pollution.

On a tour of the site Friday, reporters were shown where old dams storing effluent water and other waste disposal sites are being rehabilitated at a cost of about $57 million. There also are plans to cap the slag heap and cover it with soil.

ArcelorMittal's chief executive, Nku Nyembezi-Heita, was quick to distance the company from any damage caused by activities of the mill before the new management took over. She acknowledged that Steel Valley is an emotional issue but said there are no immediate plans to rehabilitate the land.

"Where we have caused harm, our duty is to take responsibility," she said.
Observers charge that the government is reluctant to take action against the powerful multinational. The company's owner, Lakshmi Mittal, the world's third richest person, sits on a special presidential economic advisory committee.

Large Scale Hydro vs. Decentralized Renewables

I have been meaning to get this out. I have been incredibly busy. While the focus of the study is East Africa, there are elements here that should be very familiar to Liberians. I remember a small hydro-project in Lofa (near Yandahon I believe) years ago. The potential in our rural areas is vast. Enjoy, food for thought, yum. Anthropogenicagent.

New study: Large Scale Hydro vs. Decentralized Renewables
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 16:39:07 -0400 (EDT)
August 18, 2009
Energy Security and Adaptation to Climate Change in East Africa and the Horn of Africa: Large Scale Hydropower vs. Decentralized Renewables

Recurrent droughts - thought to be linked to climate change - feature among the key challenges that face the economies of the East Africa and Horn of Africa region. They have serious negative impacts on the region's power sector. Drought-induced reduction in electricity generation from hydropower has become a persistent feature in the region's power sector. The adverse impacts of what is thought to be climate change-related? power crises have had far-reaching and devastating impacts on both the power sectors and the economies of the countries within the East and Horn of Africa region. These impacts are expected to become even stronger in the next years; hence their consequences are likely to become ever more serious as well. As a result, during power crises, the most common response option from governments in the East and Horn of Africa region has been to procure very high cost emergency thermal electricity to meet the shortfall in power supply.

As was witnessed in Uganda between 2004 and 2006, the reduction in water levels at Lake Victoria resulted in reduction in hydro-power generation by 50 MW and this led to the adjustment of the GDP growth rate from 6.2% to 4.9%. The country had to turn to costly thermal generators to ease the supply deficit. During this period, electricity supply was more intermittent than usual, and the price of electricity increased.

In Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia, drought-related power shortages and their impacts were similar to Uganda.

Tanzania announced a major power load-shedding that has adversely affected industrial and commercial sectors. In Kenya, the drought that occurred between 1999 and 2002 drastically affected the hydro power generation and in the year 2000, hydropower generation was reduced by 25% capacity. The resultant cumulative loss was variously estimated to be about 1-1.5% of the total GDP.

Kenya's GDP is equivalent to US$ 29.5 Billion; the estimated loss during the aforementioned drought induced power crisis was about 1.45% of GDP. This translates to US$ 442 million lost which could have been used to install 295 MW of new renewable power capacity (assuming a MW installed costs US$ I.5 million per MW).
That is almost three times the installed emergency power capacity from diesel and it is twice the loss of hydro power during drought periods. If Kenya had invested the US$442 million in renewable power option the crisis could have been largely avoided.

Governments and electricity utility companies within the East and Horn of Africa region need to adopt more robust, resilient and well thought out response options for addressing drought induced power crises. A key response option is the adoption of mature renewable energy technologies that provide multiple benefits. Renewables are ideal candidates for development as complements to hydropower generation. Renewable energy options such as geothermal, small hydro, biomass cogeneration and wind are attractive since the resources are widely available in the region. These options are not only environmentally friendly but also provide additional developmental benefits such as job creation and reduction of oil import bills.

In light of the drought related problems facing the power sector in the East and Horn of Africa region, and the environmental, commercial and social benefits of the aforementioned renewable energy options, this study calls for an urgent implementation of renewable energy options in the East and Horn of Africa region. The development of renewables can protect the region?s power from what is thought to be climate change induced drought that affects its hydroelectric power generation. It is worth noting that, although large-scale hydro is a renewable energy, it is likely to be more vulnerable to the impacts of drought than decentralized approaches.

In addition, there are additional benefits of investing in renewable energy as a precautionary measure to the drought that affects the power sector in the region. These benefits include;
(i) Greater energy security through wider use of locally available and more secure renewable energy resources such as geothermal, small hydro, biomass cogeneration and wind. Some of these renewables are available even during periods of drought.
(ii) Higher job creation potential of renewables.
(iii) Poverty reduction benefits of renewables. This is particularly true of small-scale renewables that are made locally and operate on the basis of solar, thermal or animate power that can be used by local communities for income generation activities.
(iv) Rural development benefits of renewables. As the bulk of renewable resources are found in rural areas, investment in renewables would result in increased rural development.

To better illustrate the potential benefits of renewables, a new report provides examples of two specific renewable options with a track record of offering viable and sound alternatives to hydropower generation. These technologies are cogeneration and geothermal power.
As earlier mentioned, over the last couple decades, there have been severe droughts that affected hydropower generation in all East and Horn of Africa countries from the late 1990s to date. However, countries using renewables to diversify sources of electricity generation appear to survive the impacts of severe droughts better than those that rely almost exclusively on hydropower for electricity generation.

For example, in comparison to Uganda and Ethiopia, Kenya appears to be more resilient to drought induced power generation shortfalls. This is largely due to the fact that Kenya has a higher level of diversification of its electricity generation sources mainly through the promotion and use renewable energy such as geothermal, biomass based cogeneration and to a lesser extent, wind energy. As a result, Kenya's electricity supply is more secure in comparison to the neighboring countries.

An important renewable that has contributed to the resilience and adaptation of Kenya's energy sector to drought-induced power generation shortfalls is geothermal energy. Just over 10% of the Kenya?s electricity generation is from geothermal energy. During the recent droughts in the country, geothermal energy played a critical role as it continued to operate at nearly 100% availability when many of the hydropower stations in the country were crippled by the dry spell.

Mauritius provides a very good example of a highly successful use of cogeneration to limit investment in oil fired thermal generation, thereby limiting a country?s exposure high cost of oil imports, especially for electricity generation. Mauritius currently meets over 20 per cent of its electricity demand using bagasse from the sugar industry. Over the 10-year period (1993-2002), the installed capacity of the sugar industry located power plants increased from 43 MW to 242 MW with the concurrent increase in electricity exported to the grid. In the early years i.e. in 1996, 119 GWh of electricity from bagasse based cogeneration was exported to the national grid. This was achieved through investment mostly by private sugar mills implementing cogeneration technology with their own private funds. By the year 2002, co-generated electricity increased significantly with investment in more efficient bagasse-to-electricity processes and in a greater number of units, so much so that the electricity exported to the grid from bagasse increased to 300 GWh and the total electricity exported from the sugar industry rose to 746 GWh in 2002, representing about 43.5% of the total electricity exported to the grid for the island.

It can therefore be argued that renewable energy systems offer diversification in energy supply, thus strengthening energy security by broadening national energy generation portfolios. Countries with diversified energy generation sources are better off compared to those which heavily depend on centralized large-scale hydro or conventional thermal plants that use imported petroleum fuels which have a degree of uncertainty in supply and cost.

Based on the study's findings, the following are some of the key recommendations that will assist the fast tracking of renewables based power in the East and Horn of Africa:

Institution of attractive and pre-determined feed-in tariffs and standard Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for co-generated power: A standard PPA can limit market uncertainty, which stands in the way of substantial investment in renewables in the region. A PPA, linked to a pre-determined standard-offer or feed-in tariff, from the national utility to purchase all energy produced by renewable energy plants can African power sector.

Innovative Financing: Innovative financing schemes should be developed by financial institutions in collaboration with project developers. Interaction between financiers and project developers could help bridge the knowledge gap on both sides ? financiers would gain a better understanding of renewables while project developers would have a better appreciation of pre-requisites for raising financing for renewable energy investments. Bundling of smaller/medium sized projects would help them access funds that have minimum investment caps, and lower the upfront cost of financing.

African countries can tap into the various international and regional initiatives that can provide funding for renewable energy investments. These initiatives include: the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the Kyoto Protocol?s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). One drawback of the CDM, however, is its high transaction costs and specialized skills requirements that have tended to limit the participation of African countries and experts to date.

Innovative Revenue-Sharing Mechanisms: One way of ensuring support for the development of renewables is by instituting appropriate revenue- sharing mechanisms. The benefits of renewables such as biomass cogeneration should trickle down to the small-scale farmer involved in growing the feedstock. A model revenue sharing mechanism has been implemented in Mauritius, where proceeds from the sale of cogenerated electricity are shared equitably among the key stakeholders - including the small-scale farmers who provide sugar cane to the factories. Similar revenue sharing mechanisms can be used as incentives for local participation in developing geothermal resources and other renewables, and are useful for building local support for scaled-up renewables development.

Energy, Environment and Development Network for Africa (AFREPREN/FWD):Large Scale Hydropower, Renewable Energy and Adaptation to Climate Change: Climate Change and Energy Security in East and Horn of Africa.Nairobi. 2009. ISBN 9966-918-23-XDownload the complete publication (105 p., 2.32 MB, PDF)

Sunday, September 06, 2009


EarlyBird Foundation - 6 Sep 2009
Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Copenhagen this December.

Now that carbon dioxide is a pollutant watch out!

Our eyes should be wide open and focused. Clearly the prosperous North is to blame for the bulk of the carbon dioxide emissions, especially from its industries into the atmosphere that have destroyed the ozone layer, fuelling global warming. Over the last centuries Africa has been a convenient relief valve for the North. Alternatively our land has been a dump or a reservoir of natural resources. Now Africa, ravaged by poverty, deserves a clean environment, free from exploitation and pollution.

But whereas the developed countries are equipped to cope with the impacts of climate change, our continent is not, therefore we may shoulder the heavier burden. This burden seems to be compounded by the actions of Europe. Here climate change leads to prolonged droughts that create hunger, while the North is known for its heavily subsidized farming, ruining the markets for African commodities.

With the upcoming Copenhagen Conference we are about to feel the big squeeze. On one side the industrial might of China and others moving in. On the other side, self righteous Europeans of the World Agroforestry Centre exclaiming, "African farmers will play a major part in the solution of climate change mitigation". (Let's assume for the moment the humans can affect mitigation.) On one hand old style empire builders with designs on the wealth of African nations; on the other hand, new age CO2lonialism. As an additional insult, the hasty calculations of the new carbon sequestration schemes are likely overestimated because protecting, or planting forests in one region may be displaced by deforestation in other regions. And we all know that civil unrest can very quickly lead to a rush on natural resources. Could it be that the Europeans are banking on Africa's misery? It would not be the first time.

What have you done to prepare for the COPENHAGEN GRAB. Remember these people are leading with statements like, "agroforestry [In Africa] can very well turn out to be a cheap alternative compared to other options in the west." International organizations are aligning to have their way with Africa. Our leaders, the Conference of African Heads of State and Goverment on Climate Change have been preparing as well, they met in Addis Ababa on August 24, and resolved that: "A REDD-Plus mechanism should be designed in such a way as to accommodate different national circumstances and respective capabilities." This is a start, but it may be nothing more than a license to exploit.

Shall we continue to delude ourselves into thinking that this ends with the sweet promises and cute schemes such as Cadbury's carbon-label on their chocolate; after all it is the end consumer who pays extra. right?


Labels: , ,

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Congo Town lagoon - Olive Ridley Turtle

Olive Ridley Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)
[stock photo Greenpeace]

EPA and Save My Future teamed up to save a 70 puonder at the Congo Town lagoon.

Mr. Nyenkan, EPA’s Acting Executive Director, said a recent survey conducted by Save My Future Foundation showed that five of the world’s six species of turtles are found in Liberia.

The Acting EPA boss the turtle was caught by some fishermen in a Green Fishing Net and brought to shore.

This is the second time that a sea turtle is redeemed and repatriated to its natural habitat by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Job well done. And children if you find turtle eggs leave them to grow up.