Dreams, Optimism, Wisdom


Erle Frayne Argonza

In the sub-Saharan region, so many exciting developments are going on that deserve our attention. Among these are gigantic projects that are funded by the billions of dollars.

Below is a news briefer about Kenya, Nigeria, and the entire region concerning both ongoing projects and assessment reports about problems that need to be addressed.

Happy viewing!

[14 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to SciDev database news.]


Sub-Saharan Africa news in brief: 19 June–3 July

3 July 2008 | EN

Kenyan and Nigerian researchers will bioengineer improved cassava


Below is a round up of news from or about Sub-Saharan Africa for the 19 June–3 July 2008.

Kenya and Nigeria plan bioengineered cassava trials
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture will next year begin field trials in Kenya and Nigeria on long-lasting cassava roots fortified with vitamins, minerals and protein, bioengineered to resist damaging viruses and requiring less processing time. Kenya’s Agricultural Research Institute and Nigeria’s Root Crops Research Institute will provide support.

DRC benefits first from US$5 billion African hydropower project
Aluminium smelters in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will, in 2010, be the first to receive power from a US$5 billion hydroelectric project on the Congo river. The project, planned since 2003 and jointly owned by the energy ministries of Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Namibia and South Africa, should be complete by 2015.

Yaws disease remains a threat
The crippling and disfiguring yaws disease remains a threat in developing countries, including those in west and central Africa, despite almost being eradicated in the 1960s.
WHO specialist Kingsley Asiedu says[171kB], the disease needs to be considered a priority once again — especially since one injection is all a cure needs. More>> [138kB]

South African telescope bid receives boost
Africa’s chances of hosting the Square Kilometre Array — the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world — has received a boost with South Africa’s approval of the Astronomy Geographic Advantage Bill. The bill gives the country’s science and technology ministry the power to protect astronomical research regions, including the proposed South African site for the array, from development.

Non-recommended drug use raising resistance fears in Mozambique
Researchers have expressed ‘concern’ that Mozambican authorities continue to treat malaria with a combination of sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) and artesunate drugs. All neighbouring countries have abandoned antimalarial drug combinations using SP due to drug resistance problems. Conditions are now ideal for artesunate drug resistance and may even endanger second-line drugs.
More>> [205kB]

Couple counselling can help cut HIV risk, African research reveals
Counselling for couples could cut the rate of HIV transmission between partners in long-term relationships by up to 60 per cent, researchers say. Based on the results of their study, conducted in Lusaka, Zambia, and Kigali in Rwanda, they say all African governments should urgently scale up HIV testing, condoms, circumcision and antiretroviral drugs for cohabiting couples.

Africa lagging on Clean Development Mechanisms
Only 25 of the 1,090 registered Clean Development Mechanism projects in developing countries are in Africa, with 11 in South Africa. Projects in the mechanism aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but companies in South Africa have complained that the amount of time to set up projects is double that stated in provided guidelines.

Namibia moves to boost hydropower
Namibia is negotiating with Angola to store water alongside the Kunene River during the rainy season to help boost its electricity capacity through hydropower. Namibia’s only hydroelectricity station, the Ruacana power plant, stops in the dry season when the river runs dry. Analyst Moses Duma says Namibia also has a good market for wind, solar and gas power.

South African satellite wait continues
South Africa is still waiting to launch its Sumbandila environmental monitoring satellite. A delegation from Russia’s civilian space agency Roskosmos is due to visit South Africa to discuss alternative options after the Russian government blocked the planned launch last year. Meanwhile, South Africa has held its first two public consultation sessions on a proposed space strategy.

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Compiled by Christina Scott. Additional reporting by Frederick Baffour Opoku, Onche Odeh and Sharon Davis.

If you would like to suggest a story for this news in brief, please contact the Africa News Editor Christina Scott ( 




Bro. Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to everyone!

There is great reason to be electrified with joy in the Philippines over the electrification of the islands. For sooner or later, way before 2010 is over, no more town or village shall ever remain darkened by the eons-old absence of electricity. Power development will then move on to its more ambitious tasks, including electrifying the powerless zones of other countries.

As a little boy then who grew up in the entrepot town of Tuguegarao, I knew what it is to have zero electricity. Power generation was weak in the 1960s to mid-70s, and at times power was available only once every three (3) days. I had to use ‘candle power’ to light my way to academic success, but at the cost of ending up in high school with an uncorrectable near-sighted vision and missing out on the military academy that required perfect eye vision for entry.

With my eyes damaged by the weak power generation, I was “compelled” instead to study in the premier state university. After finishing my sociology degree, with some background in industrial engineering, I vowed to plunge my hands in my own boyhood region’s development, vowed “rage against the dying of the light” by coercing stakeholders, where necessary, to electrify the area, or else…

My agency of choice, the Ministry of Human Settlements or MHS, was so powerful we technical staff and execs practically sat and imprinted our hands in all of the interagency committees in any area, down to the grassroots.  Cagayan then had the luck of prioritizing electrification, via the CIADP (Cagayan Integrated Area Development Project) that was directly under the country’s president, and so my task of monitoring and seeing to it that the set targets were done on electrification and other goals (irrigation, infrastructures) will be achieved as much as possible. Where bottlenecks will surface, my agency will refer the matter upstairs to quicken the resolution of the gridlocks. By dint of this arrangement, as convenor of the provincial development council here I had a real good chance of “coercing” (well, influencing is better) stakeholders to do their job well.

In Batanes, where I dipped my hands in 1981-82, there was already an advanced plan to electrify Batan and Sabtang islands via the National Electrification Administration’s intervention. Batanes had zero electricity then, save for Basco the provincial hub that was powered by a generator. My task here was more of listening to the local planners and implementers, report the same to my bosses, and to input the progress as a planning item for the forthcoming livelihood program KKK (knowing when power comes allowed us to project what enterprises to plan and support, since refrigeration will be made possible in due time there, thus enabling food preservation).  

Those were the days, my friends. Today the national landscape is one where close to 97% of villages are lighted. Grid interface technology had already been perfected and attained ‘over-developed’ status, permitting our experts to help not only ourselves but even the USA perfect its current overflow problems in the east coast. In villages that cannot access to the main grids, hybrid technologies are the option tracks such as solar power. Our engineers design and mass manufacture solar panels right here, just to remind you.

Another source of our joy is the fact that our power sector is one of the most dynamic in the Philippines and in East Asia as a whole. Thanks at least to the brilliance of the development planners and managers in the sector, it had surged way ahead. The challenge for the sector, in light of possible global crisis over oil supply bottlenecks and problems, is to fast-track alternatives to petrol. RP’s dependence on oil is actually down to a mere ¼ of its supply, and is still going down.

But the technological revolutions here aren’t over yet. Solar, geothermal, and wind power are now in their advanced prototype mass production and implementation phases. Meanwhile, ocean power is  silently being researched on. While ocean power R&D goes on, biofuels are being mass produced though this energy source is highly politicized and contentious. Biofuel is only a stop-gap, and by 2020 the nation may be on the road to geothermal, wind and ocean power as the chief sources of electricity.

There we go, partners. RP’s power generation, grid interphase leading the way more so, is way high above the clouds. Without doubt the energy sector here deserves accolades. Cheers to RP’s electrification!