Items filtered by date: June 2016
 
In 2014 a think-tank chaired by Kofi Annan had estimated that Africa lost $20bn a year on fishing and logging, with Mozambique one of the worst sufferers

BEIRUT, Lebanon, June 30, 2016/ -- Privinvest (www.Privinvest.com) has noted recent inaccurate comments in the media with regards to maritime programs executed by Privinvest for entities owned by the Government of Mozambique.  

These programs were deemed by Mozambique as necessary to build a local industry to contribute to the economic development of the country and in order to establish sovereignty over its own waters and natural resources after years of poaching and unlicensed exploitation.

At the time that the contracts were signed in 2013 and early 2014. Mozambique was being widely feted as the “Qatar of Africa”. At that point, The World Bank had raised its forecast for the African Continent, naming Mozambique as one of the fastest growing economies in the world [i].

It was widely recognised that Mozambique had extremely limited maritime infrastructure and no means of supervising and protecting its huge offshore gas fields, vital to reach, as a first stage, its economic independence.

In the fishing sector in 2013, only one registered vessel out of 130 that were licensed to fish in its offshore waters was Mozambique-owned. [ii] In 2014 a think-tank chaired by Kofi Annan had estimated that Africa lost $20bn a year on fishing and logging, with Mozambique one of the worst sufferers [iii] . Mozambique needed food security, and developing a modern and efficient fishing industry was rightly seen as critical to achieving that.

The maritime programs were requested by the customer and then designed to deliver an integrated solution – to allow oversight and control of the country’s EEZ (exclusive economic zone), to set up a viable homemade, home-owned and self-sustaining commercial fishing industry and to set up a shipbuilding and ship maintenance industry. Both for local craft and also the servicing of vessels in the offshore oil and gas industry. For that purpose, the necessary intellectual property has been made available to the customer as well as the related transfer of technology.

Contrary to certain reports, no weapons whatsoever were supplied under any of the maritime programs. The scope of supply for the maritime programs far exceeds all that has been erroneously reported to date, moreover, the services provided, beside the transfer of technology, cover a wide scope of training and maintenance services.

This was from a Press Release by Preinvest

The panorama offered by Gisenyi bay beach is a scenic expanse of blue water that ends on the Congolese hillside. Gisenyi town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Rwanda. In the middle of the Lake Kivu stands a pole. From far, it looks like a giant tree that grew from the deepest lake bed. But it is the methane gas extraction plant.

On the other side of the lake lives a farmers’ community. They raise their children and send them to public schools. Clarisse, 13 years old, is a young girl born in that community. She speaks normal Kinyarwanda tinted with the sweet Swahili accent. She knows the secrets of the water that she has paddled in with her brothers since her tender childhood. But the biggest secret she holds is the marvels of the thermal waters, amashyuza.

When you reach the water source, small children, boys and girls together are taking everlasting baths. The hot vapors that come from underground wrap their tiny bodies like invisible robes. These hot waters provide livelihoods opportunities for Clarisse and her young neighbors. After class, she fervently explains to tourists the curative powers and benefits of amashyuza before offering a massage using local herbs.

From her rural land, she has a picturesque view of the methane gas extraction plant. She doesn’t know the role of that pole in her Lake Kivu but she heard from her big brothers that it generates electricity and that they can’t fish in the 30 meters around it.

With its pacific blue, Lake Kivu itself offers a spectacular sight while its waters provide a meaning as a source of drinking water, for fisheries and a transportation corridor to the livelihoods of more than two million people from Rwandan and Congolese communities, including Clarisse’s family.

The main economic activities of these inhabitants are farming and fishing with the most abundant fish being isambaza, the Tanganyika sardines (Limnithrissa miodon). They were introduced into the lake in the 1960s to fill the obvious vacant niche of Kivu. Currently, only 31 fish species live in this lake compared to 400 species of Lake Tanganyika. This poor diversity in terms of biota is due to the steepness of the banks, age and the nature of the lake’s bottom.

The biodiversity of Rwanda is mainly conserved in protected areas like the three terrestrial national parks but these parks don’t represent the whole biodiversity and ecosystems of the country. For instance even if Lake Kivu’s fauna is poor due to its physical isolation or doesn’t shelter either hippopotamuses or crocodiles; it has several aquatic biodiversity, phytoplankton, zooplankton, more than 200 Afro-tropical superior plant species and vegetation.

Lake Kivu, situated around 100 miles north of Lake Tanganyika is a volcanic Lake of 2370 km2, almost the size of Mauritius or Moscow city, with a maximum depth that can attain 485m. It is located in the East African Rift Valley between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its uniqueness consists of the prodigious quantity of dissolved gases (carbon dioxide and methane gas) in the deep water and far from the mountainous shores.

Kivu is among the 3 lakes in the world with high dissolves volumes of CO2, the two others being Nyos and Monoum from Cameroon. But contrary to them, it contains a considerable amount of methane gas and if not exploited might erupt within a century.

On August 21, 1986, Lake Nyos emitted CO2 and suffocated fauna, flora, livestock and caused a loss of around 1800 human lives.

To shun such a disaster, Rwanda has started the extraction of methane from Kivu. The origin of this gas is not yet very well known and there have been hot debates around the subject. Scientists don’t agree on its origin, some assume that it is caused by earthquakes and volcanic activity. However, according to Dr Klaus Tietze, a German scientist, this gas is a result of bacterial reduction of the magmatic CO2 that leads to methane but along with bacterial fermentation of acetate[1] in sediments.

Currently, there is no imminent danger of explosion in Lake Kivu that threatens Clarisse’s community because gases are trapped below 260 meters. Up till now, these gases are not harmful to the biodiversity although they hinder the development and expansion of numerous species accommodated inside the water. The surface water is totally isolated from deep water where carbon dioxide and methane gas are located. The living organisms and biodiversity, especially fish species, are found in the biozone comprising only between the first 50 and 60 meters from the surface. Biozone is the part of the lake provided with sufficient oxygen to support life.

As the risk of “bang” is relatively low, Clarisse will still be able to earn some cash from amashyuza and contemplate the lonely triple-colored national flag fluttering on the methane gas extraction site. What prevents Kivu’s methane gas from exploding is the presence of several layers with different densities in addition to the fact that the water pressure is twice higher than the total of partial pressures from the gases. The bigger hydrostatic pressures from the water block the methane gas and CO2 from ascending to the surface and to have a calamitous effect on the lake’s biodiversity.

In order to reduce the accumulation of the gases in Kivu, the Rwandan Ministry of infrastructure and the Congolese Ministry of hydrocarbons operate hand in hand to ensure safe, environmental friendly and economically sustainable extraction of methane gas in the lake.

The Rwandan government has contracted private investors to start the degassing process. Since 2008, the extraction work has been ongoing on a government funded pilot project called Kibuye Power Ltd (PK1) under the Rwandan Energy Company. This company is currently extracting methane and produce electricity in Gisenyi, generating 3.6 MW. The KivuWatt is another project that is supposed to start in a near future with a potential of producing 100 MW, almost equal to the current national power consumption. Captivatingly, in addition to its other numerous benefits, Lake Kivu has an opportunity of producing 700 MW of power over the next 50 years.

It’s worth noting that Rwanda has established Lake Kivu Monitoring Program (LKMP) to circumvent negative impacts of a wrong extraction technology to the surrounding environment. This unit is mainly in charge of overseeing the plant inspection, near plants and lake wide levels. According to Mrs Augusta M. Christine Umutoni, the LKMP Programme manager, LKMP ensures public safety by maintaining the stability of the lake and preventing any potential gas eruption, thus avoiding any hazardous impacts on the environment and people as well as maximizing the socio economic benefits.

The effectiveness of Kivu Lake Monitoring Program to prevent environmental hazards will enable the few fish species to evolve in the waters of this small and young lake of East African Rift valley. The local people will keep fishing in Lake Kivu; will continue to offer tourism boat tours and to trade with the neighboring Congo. But also Rwanda has gained another source of power generation that gradually will help to reduce the gap between national electricity demand and supply.

Even if Methane gas is being extracted and averts the outburst risk, the volume of electricity produced under KP1 is still insignificant considering the national consumption and Lake Kivu neighboring communities do not yet benefit from this power that their natural resource breeds. Clarisse is currently using the tadowa, a kerosene traditional lamp, to do her school homework. She is hoping that that electricity produced in Gisenyi and channeled in the national grid, will one day reach her house through the national rural electrification program.

But s long as the methane gas extraction prevents the detriment of the ecosystems, Gisenyi local communities gain from the surrounding biodiversity to earn their livings. Clarisse’s parents will still be able to farm their lands and pay her school fees. Her older brothers income from fishing will allow them to build their future households and she will keep making pocket money from the massage and satisfy her adolescence basic needs.

 


[1] Acetate is a salt or ester of acetic acid especially used to make fibers or plastic.

The first time Mumo heard about Mau her adrenaline pumped to levels that only allowed her to compose songs she would sing with any kid she came across in this foreign land. Mumo is one of the long serving Peace Ambassador with a robust love for trees. The agreeable and smooth tongued Mumo boisterously took advantage of any tree planting activity to fulfil the desires of her undying passion. There is no way she was going to miss out on Mau, Kenya’s famous forest.

It was Saturday the fourth day of June the day Mumo had long been waiting for. This is the day Mumo dressed in all black, a sweater tied around her waist, sun glasses on her forehead with a hat arrived in an unfamiliar place. It was later discovered that Mumo had boarded and alighted three public service vehicles finishing up with a motorcycle ride that was not that pleasant thanks to the hilly terrain and potholes on the only accessible road. She was also heard lamenting about the scorching sun which she did not expect given the reputation of forested areas.

She booked her spot on the floor among her peers where mattresses were laid and left to explore the area. That evening Mumo spend her time making acquaintances with the locals among them the village elder who also introduced himself as the lover of peace. Simon was his name. He warmly welcomed Mumo and some of her friends to his home where they learned the culture of the host community, the Ogieks.

The visitors were served honey and meat which she later on found out was the staple food of the community for ages. Community members coexisting with nature in Mau forest complex. Mumo was made aware of the segetiet (cultural spoon) that was used by the mother in-law to give honey to her daughter in-law as a symbol of acceptance into the family.

As the story telling was going on the authoritative and masterful Simon presented Mumo with moratina the local brew which she said was surprisingly sweet and tasted like fruit. However the local brew was meant for special occasions and was only taken by wazee in marking the day, therefore she was only allowed two cups.

The scorching sun was long gone by evening, replaced by a stinging cold told in desert tales. Mumo was welcomed to a harsh reality that the sweater tied on her waist could not handle without the reinforcement of Maasai shuka a friend threw on her. The scarf that was diligently tied on her head to make a modern, playful fashion statement had to be shared with the neck. It was hard to believe the sun that did not tolerate the idea of a string of sweat taking its time to travel across ones face, was overpowered by the cold that would extend into the night and get to its extreme at around 3am.

The bundling up of animals in the poles or during winter was therefore the only survival technique to go for in this situation because even the warmest of sleeping bags had no chance against the cold. Without Mumo’s realisation, the hooting of owls in the night was quickly and gladly overcome with the knocking of wood peckers and other daylight dominators.

The following day was a Sunday, fifth day of June. The cold rays of the rising sun brushed by Mumo’s skin as she walked through the thick forests in search of the unknown and to also commemorate the World Environment Day in a glamorous 10 Km Trees for Peace Walk followed by tree planting session. As she together with her peers gathered in an abyss of confusion to plan, boisterous students from universities, high schools and primary schools started trickling in.

After the walk was flagged off, Mumo started feasting on the tantalizing sceneries of valleys and landscapes that were dotted with the tranquil greenness of the shrubs.

Land as a resource, arable land for that matter, is considered a piece of diamond in a country deeply rooted in agriculture and therefore, land also becomes the cause of many conflicts in Kenya. As Peace Ambassadors, Mumo together with her peers were preaching conservation as a means of protecting forests from farming and other forms of human encroachment. Through such reforestation efforts of the Mau forest, surrounding communities would be forced to see one another as natural conservation allies.

In attendance, University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Pwani University and the host university, Egerton University, just to mention but a few. Njoro girl was not left out in representing high schools, Tiritagoi primary school, Rift valley prestige school, Lord Egerton Primary School made sure to have the generation that is most likely to feel the pinch of the destruction was present in large numbers.

Young Environmental enthusiasists in the company of Forest gurus struggling to retain composure on coming across amazingly decorated trees like the podo, cedar and the dombeya. Many of these trees were embracing moss and ferns making them rather eerie yet ever so beautiful. One of the forest gurus was Mr. Ruto, a Kenya Forest Service ranger with over ten years experience. His dark patched face and red eyes were testament of the many hours he had spent trekking the cold forest and seeking warm solace from bonfires.

Apart from Mr. Ruto’s forest tales, hoping and jumping over streams became the norm for Mumo. This vindicated Mau’s status as a water tower; streams emerged out of nowhere thanks to the rate of underground seepage that occurs in places with proper tree cover.

The higher she got the air becomes moist and cooler making her spontaneously turn around to look at girls with natural hair while touching her own. She lived in the big industrialised city of Nairobi where fresh air only existed in fantasies, -not that bad because the occupants have not started wearing face masks yet- therefore she made plans of moving to the middle of the jungle just to survive like Katy Perry in Roar and have all the unthinkable fun with the shy Turacos and colourful sunbirds.

It startled Mumo what a difference of few minutes travel made, with epiphany she remembered all the articles she had read about the Mau, she remembered it being called the largest of its kind in the whole of East Africa, she remembered it being called the backbone of the country, she remembered it being the main supplier of water into the major cities including her not so beloved Nairobi where the population keeps growing.

Apart from water, Mau also holds the economy of Kenya in the palm if it’s green hands. It is the source of the Mara River, which in turn supports the wildlife that has made Kenya a tourism powerhouse. Such priceless benefits from Mau were the ones that inspired Mumo as she planted trees. Hopefully, these trees would one day be part of an even bigger, not dwindling Mau Forest Complex.