Author Archives: Environmental Journalist

Can Africa develop on green power?

By Sophie Mbugua

Africa’s energy demand is set to grow. It’s estimated that more than 660 million people, or 63 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa, has no access to energy. Energy is key to industrialization.

But, power shortages are stalling African development. Private sector green power providers say renewables could close the energy gap – but better market conditions are essential.



A solar powered traditional Home in Turkana County, Northern Kenya

The African Union’s “Agenda 2063” initiative aims to transform the continent socio-economically over the next 50 years, with commercial centers, infrastructure development, investment in science, technology, and innovation, and an integrated high-speed train network connecting all African capitals. All this requires stable, reliable, and efficient energy.

The World Bank estimates that by 2040, Africa will require 700 gigawatts (GW) of electricity capacity, seven times the amount of what is currently installed.

Coal and oil vs. wind and sun

Countries like Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda are prospecting for oil, natural gas and coal in a bid to meet that demand and grow their economies. The UN Economic Commission for Africa says crude oil, natural gas, and coal are still important energy sources that play a vital role in African economies and energy systems.

But is there a cleaner path to development?

Under the Paris Agreement, Kenya has committed to reducing its emissions by 30 percent, and Ghana by 15 percent, by 2030, compared to business-as-usual scenarios. African heads of state have signed up to the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative, which aims to produce at least 10 GW of new renewable energy generation capacity by 2020, and not less than 300 GW by 2030.

David Maina is an energy engineer at the Kenya Association of Manufacturers. He says Africa can develop without exploiting its fossil fuel resources. After all, the continent is also rich in clean energy resources— geothermal, wind, untapped hydro and biomass energy sources such as bagasse produced from the sugar factories.

“We can develop with renewable energy,” he told DW. “Africa has cheaper renewable resources that we can invest in.”

Read the rest of the story first published at DW here:

Agroforestry gives Kenyan indigenous community a lifeline

Kongolel Masai Kangonyei a Sengwer and a coffee beneficiary

By Sophie Mbugua: WEST POKOT, Kenya — The Cherangani people, an indigenous community in Kenya’s Rift Valley, have always called the Cherangani Hills Forest their ancestral home.

Also known locally as the Sengwer, they were traditionally reliant on the forest for hunting and gathering, herbal medicines, honey, and sorghum and millet farming. Then the colonial government evicted them from the forest, only permitting them access to medicinal plants; gathering and hunting in the forest is still prohibited.

Read more

Alternative Energy saving trees and Tea prodution costs

IMG_3954By Sophie Mbugua: Thika, Kenya: Tea is the most commonly consumed non-water beverage in the world. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) indicate that the world tea production – black, green, instant and others – increased by 4.4 percent annually over the last decade to reach 5.73 million tones in 2016.

A 2018 FAO report, projects an annual 2.2 percent black tea production rise over the next decade to reach 4.4 million tones in 2027. The significant output will increase in China, Kenya, and Sri Lanka – with China expected to achieve Kenya’s – the largest black tea exporter globally – output levels.

Kenya produced 40million kilograms of tea and exported 32Million Kilograms of tea in January 2018 according to the Kenya tea board. Read more

Disease causing Vector stings East Africa Staple.


By Sophie Mbugua: Makueni, Kenya: In 2011 the Maize lethal Necrosis (MLN) a disease causing an estimated 30 percent total maize loss in farmers’ fields according to the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) first emerged in Kenya spreading to other parts of East Africa.

The disease caused by infections from the Maize Chlorotic Mottle Virus and the Sugarcane Mosaic Virus, negatively impacted livelihoods and food security among farmers and families who consider maize a stable food while posing a threat to regional maize trade.

As noted by the East Africa Community Sectoral Council on Agriculture and Food Security, the disease that causes premature plant death, poorly formed maize cobs, can lead to up to 100 percent yield loss in farmers’ fields. Read more

Eco-crime Hits a Record High

ivory burning pile

As the world celebrates the World Environment Day, a rapid response report published Saturday by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL estimates the value of environmental crime at 26 per cent higher than previous estimates, at $91-258 billion today compared to $70-213 billion in 2014.

The Rise of Environmental Crime, finds that weak laws and poorly funded security forces are enabling international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction.

According to the UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, the vast sums of money generated from these crimes keep sophisticated international criminal gangs in business, and fuel insecurity around the world. Read more

Is the Paris Outcome a Panacea to global warming?


Indegenous people make demanding their rights  at the COP21

Indigenous people make demanding their rights  at the COP21

By Sophie Mbugua: Paris 12th Dec 2015 As we enter the homestretch of the Paris climate summit, coalitions have emerged between sections of developed countries, small islands states and the least developed countries (LDCs) blocs.

This  ambitious coalition made up of over 90 countries lead by the Marshal Island, coalesced to fight for an ambitious mechanism of 1.5 temperature goal.

In addition to the 1.5 degrees temperature target, they are calling for 5 year review of the soon to be signed Paris agreement, clear pathway for a low carbon future and a strong financial package for developing countries which includes $100bn per year.

Of interest is the attention the coalition is attracting among developed rich countries who were not keen to support the 1.5degree temperature goal initially fronted by the civil society organizations and the scientific community.

In 2010, the Cancun agreement agreed to limit the temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. But in June 2015, a structured expert dialogue made up of more than 70 scientists, climate experts and negotiators concluded that this limit was inadequate and should only be used as an upper limit. Read more

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