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12m Need Food in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia

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12m Need Food in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia

12m Need Food in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia

By Dipo Olowookere

Countries in the Horn of Africa are likely to see a rise in hunger and further decline of local livelihoods in the coming months, as farming families struggle with the knock-on effects of multiple droughts that hit the region this year, FAO warned today.

Growing numbers of refugees in East Africa, meanwhile, are expected to place even more burden on already strained food and nutrition security.

Currently, close to 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of food assistance, as families in the region face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. Terms of trade are particularly bad for livestock farmers, as food prices are increasing at the same time that market prices for livestock are low.

Farmers in the region need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their breeding livestock healthy and productive at a time that pastures are the driest in years. Production outputs in the three countries are grim.

Rapid intervention

“We’re dealing with a cyclical phenomenon in the Horn of Africa,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division. “But we also know from experience that timely support to farming families can significantly boost their ability to withstand the impacts of these droughts and soften the blow to their livelihoods,” he stressed.

For this reason, FAO has already begun disbursing emergency funds for rapid interventions in Kenya and Somalia.

The funds will support emergency feed and vaccinations for breeding and weak animals, repairs of water points, and seeds and tools to plant in the spring season. FAO is also working with local officials to bolster countries’ emergency preparedness across the region.

“Especially in those areas where we know natural hazards are recurring, working with the Government to further build-up their ability to mitigate future shocks is a smart intervention that can significantly reduce the need for humanitarian and food aid further down the line,” Burgeon said.

Kenya is highly likely to see another drought in early 2017, and with it a rise in food insecurity. Current estimates show some 1.3 million people are food insecure.

Based on the latest predictions, the impacts of the current drought in the southern part of the country will lessen by mid-2017, but counties in the North – in particular Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir and Mandera – will steadily get worse.

Families in these areas are heavily dependent on livestock. Now, with their livelihoods already stressed – the last reliable rain they received was in December 2015- they will get little relief from the October-December short rains, which typically mark a recovery period but once again fell short this season.

In the affected counties, the terms of trade have become increasingly unfavourable for livestock keepers, as prices of staple foods are rising, while a flood of weakened sheep, goats and cows onto local markets has brought down livestock prices.

To ensure livestock markets remain functional throughout the dry season in 2017, FAO, is training local officials in better managing livestock markets — in addition to providing feed, water and veterinary support.

After two poor rainy seasons this year, Somalia is in a countrywide state of drought emergency, ranging from moderate to extreme. As a result, the Gu cereal harvest – from April to June – was 50 percent below average, and prospects for the October-December Deyr season are very grim.

To make matters worse, the country’s driest season – the Jilaal that begins in January- is expected to be even harsher than usual, which means Somali famers are unlikely to get a break anytime soon.

All indications are that crop farmers are already facing a second consecutive season with poor harvest. Pastoralists, meanwhile, are struggling to provide food for both their families and livestock, as pasture and water for grazing their animals are becoming poorer and scarcer by the day – in the south, pasture availability is the lowest it has been in the past five years.

Some five million Somalis are food insecure through December 2016. This includes 1.1 million people in Crisis and Emergency conditions of food insecurity (Phases 3 and 4 on the five-tier IPC scale used by humanitarian agencies). This is a 20 percent increase in just six months.

The latest analysis forecasts that the number of people in Crisis and Emergency conditions of food insecurity may further rise by more than a quarter of a million people between February and May 2017. Similar conditions in 2011 have resulted in famine and loss of lives, and therefore early action is urgently needed to avoid a repeat.

FAO calls on resource partners to urgently scale up assistance in rural areas, in the form of cash relief, emergency livestock support and agricultural inputs to plant in the April Gu season.

If farmers cannot plant during Gu – which traditionally produces 60 percent of the country’s annual cereal output — they will be left without another major harvest until 2018.

Farming families in Ethiopia, meanwhile, are extremely vulnerable as they have not been able to recover from the 2015 El Nino-induced drought. Some 5.6 million people remain food insecure, while millions more depend on livestock herds that need to be protected and treated to improve milk and meat production. Here, too, better access to feed and water is critical.

The crop situation is relatively stable after the country completed the most widespread emergency seed distribution in Ethiopia’s history. FAO and more than 25 NGOs and agencies reached 1.5 million households with drought-resistant seeds.

As a result of enabling farming families to grow their own food, the government and humanitarian community saved close to $1 billion in emergency aid, underlining that investing in farmers is not only the right thing to do but also the most cost-efficient.

FAO’s Early Warning early action work

Somalia and Kenya are among the first countries benefiting from FAO’s new Early Warning Early Action Fund (EWEA). The fund ensures quick activation of emergency plans when there is a high likelihood of a disaster that would affect agriculture and people’s food and nutrition security.

The fund will be part of a larger Early Warning Early Action System that tracks climate data and earth imaging to determine what areas are at risk of an imminent shock and will benefit from early intervention.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Lagos Moves to Regulate Electricity Market

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electricity market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Lagos State government is in the process of enacting a law to regulate the electricity market in the state, Business Post has learnt.

This call was made by the Lagos State Commissioner for Energy, Mr Olalere Odusote, while delivering a keynote address at the closing of the 3rd Lagos Real Estate Market Place Conference And Exhibition in Lagos.

Speaking at the event themed A Town Hall Meeting On The Lagos Real Estate Emerging Markets – Mitigating The Potential Risks, the Commissioner explained that this became necessary as most private individuals and businesses in Lagos utilised diesel-powered generators rather than electricity from the national grid.

According to him, the two distribution companies in Lagos State, the Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC) and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company (IKEDC) – established nine years ago, sell about 800 to 900 megawatts initially and have only improved to 1,000 megawatts nine years after.

“Nothing has changed in the national grid sector nine years after.

“However, Lagos State, within a spate of nine years, had grown from having about 8,000 megawatts of installed diesel capacity to about 23,000 megawatts.

“The diesel market of the off-grid market has grown by about 300 per cent, but the grid market has not grown at all or just about one to two per cent,” he said.

He added that the state injected almost 1,000 transformers into the grid to improve electricity supply to its residents, but without the desired result.

Mr Odusote said a lot of the energy utilised in Lagos comes from diesel generators and that because of the high population of the city, the emission from that energy source had become unsustainable.

The Commissioner explained that Lagos had been projected to be the city with the largest population in the world in 50 years; therefore, energy for the housing infrastructure needed for the population must be put into consideration.

Mr Odusote said that was why the state government came up with the Lagos Electricity sector policy, with the aim of providing universal access to electricity for all residents of the state.

He stated that the draft of the Lagos electricity law had been completed and was before the state’s House of Assembly for consideration.

Mr Odusote explained that the bill, when implemented, would take regulation of electricity from the centre and domicile it with the Lagos regulatory agency.

“The Nigerian constitution domiciles the responsibility of regulation and distribution of electricity with the state government, but when the law was passed in 2002, many states were not ready for the responsibility.

“Many housing estates in the state run on diesel generators because they are unable to benefit from the grid, yet they cannot share from the excess capacity they currently have because the Federal Government does not permit it.

“Lagos is now ready, willing and in the process of passing the law. It means we will be able to locally determine our faith when it comes to electricity,” he said.

According to him, the Lagos Regulatory Agency will work with the residents and the state government to determine the need of the electricity market and make laws that will enable investors to invest in identified gaps.

The Commissioner said the state was working with the Federal Government to ensure its laws were reviewed and the new law passed at the National Assembly aligned with the state’s law and in line with the development of the sector.

Mr Odusote explained that the state was working with the stakeholders and other private sector operators to create a framework that would ensure that by 2036, there is the availability of electricity in the state.

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GE Reduces Emissions With Mobile Gas Turbines

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mobile gas turbines

By Adedapo Adesanya

General Electric (GE) has announced that its mobile gas turbines, typically used for emergency use, cannot only meet the emissions requirements in line with World Bank Standards but even surpass them and meet the most stringent emissions standard requirements.

In the State of California, GE developed an innovative technical solution on four TM2500 aero-derivative gas turbines deployed at the Department of Water Resources (DWR) sites in Yuba City and Roseville. The solution reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by over 90 per cent, surpassing World Bank Emissions Standards. It marked the world’s first-of-a-kind solution on a GE mobile TM2500.  The technology helped lower emissions while supporting the statewide energy grid during extreme climate-driven events, including drought or wildfires.

Speaking on the advancement, Mr Clive Nickolay, CEO of GE Gas Power’s Aeroderivative business line, said, “GE’s aero-derivative mobile technology, typically used for emergency power, represents a perfect complement to renewable energy and peaking power use cases worldwide.

“We’re excited about GE’s efforts to provide power plant operators with a technical solution that will allow them to quickly install peak power when needed while drastically reducing NOx and CO emissions levels to low single digits.”

The technical solution includes engineering studies for the integration and installation of a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology system—a proven and effective solution to limit post-combustion emissions.

The technology works by removing common emissions through a catalytic converter transforming the nitrogen oxides contained in the exhaust gas into water vapour and nitrogen.  The new solution unlocks dramatic enhancements to emissions performance while ensuring the TM2500 can provide reliable, affordable, and lower-carbon electricity to the grid.

At Yuba and Roseville, GE worked with the engineering, procurement, and construction company Kiewit Power Constructors Co. to install the world’s first-of-this-kind solution on a GE mobile gas power turbine to solve DWR’s emissions challenge. The emissions control solution includes 11-meter-high modules and a 22-meter-high stack.  Each of the four TM2500 can produce up to 34 megawatts (MW) of electricity for a total of 136 MW and is now equipped with a system to reduce pollutants to 2.5 parts per million, the legal limit set by the state of California.

Adding his input, Mr Nosizwe Dlengezele, Regional Sales Executive for GE Gas Power business in Sub-Saharan Africa, said, “Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the world’s fastest-growing populations, and natural gas offers a solution that’s more efficient and flexible to enable the integration of more renewables to the grid and ultimately reduce emissions.

“Our TM2500 aero-derivative gas turbines are installed in countries such as Nigeria, Angola, and Ghana, to provide much-needed power because of its enhanced mobility, easy installation and critical grid backup. It also has lower emissions than diesel generators when operating on gas, and the availability of an SCR solution will now enable our customers to further reduce NOx and CO emissions by 90 per cent.”

A key feature of the TM2500 units is its fast start ability providing full power in five minutes. This provides utilities and grid operators like   California Independent System Operator (CAISO) or the Western Area Power Authority (WAPA) the ability to quickly support the grid in case of emergencies or loss of intermittent power.

The quick start capability was successfully put to use when the units were brought online to support a strained statewide energy grid during California’s extreme heat wave on Sept 6, 2022.

GE’s trailer-mounted TM2500 is derived from jet-engine technology powering the world’s airlines and is mounted on a wheeled trailer for ultimate mobility. With more than 20 years of experience and over 300 units installed around the world, GE’s TM2500 is a proven solution for providing a baseload bridge to permanent power installations or for generating backup/peak power in the wake of natural disasters, plant shutdowns, grid instability or in isolated locations.

GE powers plants that deliver flexible, efficient, and reliable power to millions of people around the world. With almost 70 years of presence in Sub-Saharan Africa, GE has been collaborating with energy stakeholders to deploy innovative technologies tailored to respond to the needs of the Sub-Saharan Africa region with reliable baseload and flexible power. GE delivers across the entire energy ecosystem from generation to transmission and distribution, and throughout the region, GE-built technologies are supported by GE local service and maintenance teams working together to help ensure access to reliable and sustainable energy.

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Senate Threatens to Withhold 2023 Capital Budget of State House, Others

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State House 2023 capital budget

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Senate has threatened to withhold the 2023 capital budget of 100 federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) until they answer the queries raised against them by the Auditor General for the Federation.

Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, issued this threat on the floor of the upper chamber of the National Assembly on Wednesday while ruling on a point of order.

The threat followed a point of order raised by the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Mr Matthew Urhoghide, who informed his colleagues that some agencies refused to appear before the team despite invitations sent to them.

Some of the MDAs include the State House, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ministries of Interior, Transportation, Mines and Solid Mineral Development, Information, Communication, Petroleum, Defence, Police Affairs, and Sports.

Others are Works and Housing, Women Affairs, the State House, Presidential Fleet, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Independent National Electoral Commission, North East Development Commission, Nigerian Intelligence Agency, and the Nigerian Air Force, among others.

The queries covered in the auditor general’s report are from 2015-2018.

Speaking, Mr Lawan upheld Mr Urhoghide’s point of order and insisted that the public officers who utilised funds appropriated to their MDAs must give account.

He said, “Your point of order is sustained fully and completely, totally sustained; you are right on the dot to bring to the plenary your grievances.

“Secondly, I once served as Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for eight years. My only problem is when you write agencies, and they refuse to honour the invite, you’d many times be forced to bring them through a warrant of arrest.

“Reading this list at plenary gives the agencies the opportunity to know now if they were not aware before for those that may claim ignorance.”

The Senate then gave the agencies a one-week deadline to communicate with the committee and set a date to appear before them or have their capital budgets withheld.

“I am taking the opportunity here to advise that in the next one week, if the name of any agency is here, that agency should reach the Committee on Public Accounts of the Senate to sort out when the agency would appear before the committee.

“If there is no communication whatsoever and no cogent and verifiable reason are given, we will slash the agencies’ budget.”

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