REBTEL: The power of the Sun

  
In the last few years, the rise of Nigeria’s economy to become the largest in Africa has often been heralded for overcoming numerous systemic obstacles but there remains one obstacle which many believe holds the country back: a chronic shortage of power supply.

With about 90 million Nigerians living without power, citizens are forced to live on expensively maintained generator sets. The effect of the lack of electricity is significant as it continues to hamper economic growth and hurts investor confidence. However a partnership between the World Bank, International Financial Corporation as well as local banks and energy firms in Nigeria could help assuage the pressing issue.

The Lighting Africa Project, as it has been tagged, will focus on helping to develop a private sector that will provide electricity, using solar power, to up to a million households in Nigeria. The project will target households without access to the national grid in rural communities over the next five years.

To make this happen, the World Bank will play a key role as it will provide low-interest financing for investors and energy firms involved in the partnership. One of the major goals of the project is to reduce the heavy dependence on kerosene lamps and gasoline-powered generators which pose various health and environmental risks.

A better bet

Exploring solar energy could be a more realistic option to fix some of Nigeria’s power issues since building new national grids could cost billions of dollars. In the long-term, alternative clean energy will also help the country meet its ambitious plan to down emissions by as much as 45% by 2030 as part of the landmark climate change deal reached in Paris last week.
In line with this, Nigeria recently announced a ban on low-cost generators citing health risks caused by emissions and fire hazards. It also stepped up its national renewable energy program through an agreement with the United Kingdom in October.

A similar trend is visible across most of the continent as the African Union recently announced a $20 billion investment in renewable energy over the next decade. One example of a viable private sector solar model is M-Kopa in Kenya where the pay-as-you-go solution already reaches 275,000 households with plan to reach serve one million homes in East Africa by 2017.

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The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit

  
The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit is a majority women group of rangers, founded by Transfrontier Africa to protect the Olifants West Region of Balule Nature Reserve, part of Greater Kruger National Park in South Africa. The area where the Black Mambas operate is a free-range savannah ecosystem with open borders to the Kruger National Park. The highly endangered Black Rhino and also the endangered white rhino are strongly represented in the area.

Since the unit went into operation in 2013, the number of rhinos lost to poaching has plummeted, snaring and illegal bush-meat incidents have been reduced by 75 per cent, and nine poacher incursions have been detected, leading to the arrests of the offenders. The 26 unarmed members of the unit conduct foot-patrols, observations, vehicle checks and, road blocks, as well as educating their peers on the importance of conservation and gathering intelligence from their communities.
Restoring dignity and self-worth, and empowering communities to play their part, is a crucial component of efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade across the globe, and the Black Mambas are an outstanding example of success. Their brave actions are sending the message to others in South Africa and beyond that communities themselves can prevent the illegal wildlife trade—which threatens not only iconic species such as rhino and elephants, but puts money in the hands of criminal gangs, thus increasing insecurity, and threatens livelihoods.

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