Africa can be Energy Independent with Help form the Private Sector

Clearly something is going wrong when 500 million people do not have access to electricity in the 21st Century. Yet this is the situation on the African continent, where 500 million burn wood and kerosene for fuel (cutting down ancient forests as they do so!). Years of investment in Africa, from governments, aid groups and individuals has failed to rectify the situation. Africans continue to cut down trees for fuel.

Philanthropist and businessman, Alvaro Sobrinho abhors the situation and is demanding that action be taken to resolve the problem. However, unlike reformers of the past he is not calling for government intervention, no, he is calling for the private sector to take action, and at once.

Africa has vast energy resources, and not just dirty fossil fuels. With more than 10 terawatts of clear, solar energy just waiting to be absorbed by solar panels,1,300 gigawatts of wind power and 15 gigawatts of thermal energy, Africa is a supremely wealth continent, if only it could make use of the resources available.

Alvaro Sobrinho has suggested that working with business to build Africa’s energy capacity is the best way to proceed. Indeed, it would seem that he is quite right; already private companies and making huge contributions to the development of Africa’s energy needs. In Kenya, Google has made a substantial investment in the Lake Turkana wind farm. The wind farm will cover 40,000 acres of land and supply 310MWs of energy through its 365 wind turbines.

Complimenting the efforts of governments and international funds, the private sector can clearly make a valuable and much needed contribution to securing Africa’s energy independence over the coming years.

African Youth Bulge Conference

Last year, while undertaking a 5 day tour of Africa, President Barak Obama commented on the “extraordinary” opportunity of Africa’s youth bulge. He suggested that Africa “has the potential to be the next center of global economic growth”. Africa’s success will largely depend on how the continent deals with its enormous population of youths. Currently, 43% of the content is aged 15 or under, while some 200 million inhabitants are between 15 and 24. Dealing with the demographic issues is possibly the greatest challenge facing African governments and business leaders today.

In light of the growing importance of the African youth bulge, the Planet Earth Institute will be hosting a high level conference to discuss strategies for overcoming the problem and turning it into the “extraordinary” opportunity Obama believes it can be.

200 delegates have been invited to attend the conference in London. They will be asked to offer their thoughts on the African youth bulge and to work together to develop a concrete strategy for getting more young Africans into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.

The Planet Earth Institute already supports a wide range of programmes designed to support African students studying STEM subjects. These programmes include the funding of a PhD research centre and the funding of over 10,000 PhDs over the course of the next 10 years.

The institute hopes the conference can shed light on more ways to promote and support education programmes that will mitigate the problems brought on by Africa’s demographics.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has previously pointed out the necessity of an employment strategy for young Africans. He has personally advocated a focus on scientific education as the most effective way of preparing young Africans for the high-tech, low employment economy they are bound to face in the coming years.

The conference will be held on London on September 15th.

PhD Scholarship Launched

The first phase of the Planet Earth Institute’s ambitious PhD funding programme has now officially begun. As of the 6th May, students and research have been able to submit relevant research proposals to the Planet Earth Institute in the hope of winning a scholarship from the organisation.

Applications will continue to be considered until the end of the month, after which a short time will be given over to reviewing each of the applications to identify the most suitable proposals. To be considered proposals must outline research in one of serval key fields identified by the scholarship criteria, these include issues of energy, sanitation, health and agriculture.

Successful applicants will undertake their research in Africa and the UK. Each successful student will be given full support by the Planet Earth Institute, which will be coordinating the scholarship from its offices in Mauritius.

Alongside access to some of the best and most exclusive universities in Africa and the UK, students will be given access to some of the worlds most dynamic and innovative companies. The Planet Earth Institute coordination team will assist students in securing placements with companies associated with the scholarship.

The objective of the scholarship is to support a new generation of African scientists and researchers who can develop solutions to the many economic and environmental challenges the continent faces.

Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, described the launch of the PhD scholarship as a “proud” moment for the NGO.

Alvaro Sobrinho: Businesses Can Save Africa from Climate Change

According to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the continent most vulnerable to effects of climate change is Africa. This is despite the fact that Africa, as a region, contributes the least to green house gas emissions. The IPCC explains that Africa’s vulnerability is particularly acute due to several factors that act as impact multipliers. The main factor being the continents weak adaptive capacity, making it especially sensitive to small climatic shifts. On top of this, widespread poverty throughout the continent means Africans and their nation states are ill prepared to deal with change.

According to the World Bank, Africa’s agricultural sector, which has struggled for decades to gain a foothold, is extremely susceptible to climate change. Increasing temperatures are causing droughts, reducing yields and causing animals to die. It is clear that serious challenges lie ahead for Africa. The question remains if and how the continent will overcome the obstacles it will face. One answer to this question come from businessman and philanthropist Alvaro Sobrinho.

Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho has convincingly argues in favour of business led solutions to Africa’s manifold environmental problems. He contends that only business has the technological and financial capacity to meet the challenge of climate change head on.

In regards to agriculture, Sobrinho believes that, “Agribusiness companies can help strengthen the climate resilience of agricultural land and farming communities by adopting agroecological approaches.” In turn, business will gain access to a market in Africa’s smallholder farmers, who comprise some 80% of continents food producers. The arrangement, Alvaro insists, can be mutually beneficial.

He goes on to express the view that fighting climate change can be about business and development. He cites Africa’s enormous capacity for producing clean renewable energy as a way of pointing to the business and climate change potential of the continent.

PEI Sets Sights on Space

The primary focus of the international NGO the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) is the scientific advancement of Africa. The NGO has attempted to improve Africa’s position in the sciences by funding and organising a variety of education initiatives including PhD programmes, building research institutions and encouraging young African students to choose to study science.

The NGO’s latest effort to improve the state of science and technology in Africa is a conference exploring the potential for space based technologies to promote growth and development on the continent. The aim of the conference is to “explore and address the many challenges, opportunities and controversies associated with an African space strategy.”

The conference will ask pertinent questions regarding the desirability of a space strategy for Africa, particularly given the high levels of poverty present throughout the continent.

The event is being hosted by the PEI in association with Satellite Applications Catapult and will be attended by the PEI and its colleagues from the world of business, education and government. The event will be the first in a series of high profile, invitation only events focused on the theme of space and satellite applications.

After organising a Roundtable on Africa’s space strategy at the House of Lords in London, the event is the next step in the PEI’s attempt to understand Africa’s place in relation to space.

PEI Chairman, Dr Alvaro Sobrinho is a keen advocate of using technology to advance African development. He will no doubt welcome the announcement of this series of conferences focused on space technology.

PEI to Issue 10 Additional Grants this Year

Having already announced the intention to fund 10,000 PhDs during the course of the next 10 years, the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) has recently added 10 additional PhD grants to its education offering.

The Africa focused NGO has been working diligently with a variety of organisations, including the World Bank and several African governments, to improve the level of scientific education on the continent. The PEI hopes to inspire and educate a new generation of African scientists, engineers and mathematicians, who will comprise the advanced African workforce in an age of technology and innovation.

Working with the African Academy of Science, the PEI will help to fund a further 10 PhD programmes this year. The programmes will focus on key issue areas that are of importance and relevance to Africa. In particular, topics to be considered for funding will include energy, agriculture and water, along with basic scientific research.

Each of the PhDs will be run with close connections to private business. The intention, explains PEI, is to ensure that the outcome of the research is industry relevant and productive.

Angolan businessman, banker and philanthropist, Alvaro Sobrinho spoke highly of the new PhD programmes. He emphasised the importance of improving Africa’s scientific capabilities in order to deal with the challenges the continent faces in the 21st Century.

A long-time advocate for increased scientific education in Africa and Chairman of PEI, Sobrinho spends much of his time campaigning for a greater focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics in African education. Alongside his work with the PEI he has organised a group of African business leaders, who are independently funding higher education programmes across Africa.

The agreement between the Planet Earth Institute and the African Academy of Science was formalised on April 2nd. The organisations will now begin searching for appropriate research projects to allocate funding to. Applicants will need to fulfil the criteria of the grants, including fitting into one of the subject areas stated above.

PEI Announce Conference in London

African NGO the Planet Earth Institute recently announced that it will host a conference in London this July. As part of the #ScienceAfrica UnConference series organised annually by the Planet Earth institute, this event is titled “Generation Science: empowering Africa’s future scientific leaders”.

The event will focus on the challenges facing Africa’s youth in relation to the changing structure of the African economic landscape. According the Planet Earth Institute Chairman Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution promises to bring prosperity to Africa through the introduction of fourth generation technologies such as robotics.

However, as previously reported on this website, this prosperity promised by the Fourth Industrial Revolution threatens to be something of a doubled edged sword, with potentially massive disruptions occurring in the African job market. Dr Alvaro Sobrinho has identified education as a key mechanism for mitigating the disruptive consequences of introducing new innovations into the continents economy.

This years edition of the #ScienceAfrica UnConference will be the latest in a serious of initiatives led by Dr Sobrinho and the Planet Earth Institute aimed at meeting the challenges ahead. The event will focus on the role of education in preparing Africa’s youth for the economic transformation that is due to occur.

High-level speakers, including Planet Earth Institute trustee Lord Boateng and the President of Mauritius will give speeches on the topic during the event. Other speakers are expected to be added to the list during the coming months.

Over 180 delegates from government, academia and business are expected to attend. After listening to high-level guest speakers, the delegates will be asked to share their thoughts on how governments and businesses can work together to provide African students with the support they need to gain valuable skills in scientific subjects.

The event will take place on the 20th July, 2016 in London.

PEI STEP Launch a Success

The launch of the Science and Technology Enrolment Programme (STEP), previously announced on this website on February 14th, took place at the Le Bocage international school in Mauritius on February 29th.

Organised by the Planet Earth Institute (PEI) and sponsored by HE President Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, STEP is intended to deliver specially designed scientific education days to schools across Mauritians. The aim of the initiative is to highlight the importance of science to students and to demonstrate the myriad of career possibilities an education in the sciences can offer.

To achieve this aim, the programme means to bring in specialists who studied one of the four STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Students will then have a chance to hear about the career of the specialists and ask them questions. Though direct contact, STEP hopes to help students to make the link between an exciting career and the educational path that makes it possible.

President Gurib-Fakim delivered a speech in which she explained that the purpose of STEP is to dispel the idea that science is a boring subject. She went on to insist that science will play a vital role in the Mauritian economy in the years to come and that the country will need talented individuals with scientific knowledge if it is to thrive. Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the PEI, has also emphasised the need for a greater focus on STEM subjects if African education, particularly in light of the economic and technological changes facing the world, and the African continent, today.

After the speech students and guests were treated to a scientific demonstration including experiments with liquid nitrogen and controlled explosions. After the demonstration students divided into groups and took part in various activities designed to stimulate their interest in science and technology.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: A Doubled Edged Sword for Africa?

The third industrial revolution was characterised by two seemingly contradictory trajectories. On the one hand, innovative new technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones were introduced on a massive scale. While at the same time unemployment increased and social stability weakened. As the World Economic Forum ushers in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, business leader and philanthropist Dr Alvaro Sobrinho shares his thoughts on how Africa can avoid the same pitfalls during the coming era.

The opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution are manifold, explains Alvaro Sobrinho. Robotics and modern manufacturing processes such as 3D printing have the potential to drastically improve efficiency and “tackle some of our greatest development challenges such as climate change” states Sobrinho.

Yet with these improvements come significant challenges that cannot be ignored. In particular, Sobrinho points to the implications the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have on the labour market in Africa. As occurred during the Third Industrial Revolution, the introduction of new technologies tends to wipe out existing jobs.

To counter this negative side affect of technological innovation, Sobrinho believes that an educational pivot is necessary. African schools and universities must, he argues, prepare their students for the particular labour market they will enter after completing their studies. This, he continues, means focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He goes on to emphasise that “Africa’s survival in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will depend on its knowledge base.”

Sobrinho goes on to explain how he is personally involved in promoting a scientific education agenda in Africa through his work with the Africa Business Champions for Science group. Together with the World Bank, the Planet Earth Institute and three African governments, the group has put together a substantial fund that will support the completion of 10,000 PhDs in the fields of science, technology and engineering.

Alvaro Sobrinho finishes by calling upon the broader business community in Africa to start similar initiatives in order to prepare Africa’s work force for the impending Fourth Industrial Revolution, in the hope that the pitfalls and failures of the Third Industrial Revolution can be avoided.

IBM Hosts PEI Africa Breakfast Club

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) recently hosted its first Africa Breakfast Club of 2016. The African focused NGO is an ongoing project for Dr Alvaro Sobrinho, who along with co-founding the organisation also fills the role of Chairman.

The aim of the PEI is to encourage and promote the technological advancement of Africa. The Breakfast Club programme is used to connect people and organisations from across the continent that have a similar vision and the resources to make it happen.

In attendance during the event were many distinguished guests from missions, universities and the private sector. This particular edition of the Africa Breakfast Club was hosted in partnership with IBM Research-Africa and focused on the link between technological innovation and economic growth and specifically on IMB’s work in Kenya.

The event was hosted by Lord Paul Boateng, a PEI trustee, and featured a guest speaker, Dr. Kamal Bhattacharya, Director of IBM Research-Africa. During his speech, Dr Bhattacharya gave an overview of the work IBM is conducting on the continent. He explained that in Kenya the company is working with the government to improve the business environment.

Dr Bhattacharya informed the crowd that IBM’s efforts have so far been successful, Kenya having improved its Ease of Doing Business ranking by 21 points in the most recent World Bank report.

The guest speaker then went on to discuss other projects in motion around the continent, including a programme to assist smallholder farmers who need access to financial services and the dissemination of healthcare technologies. Dr Bhattacharya concluded his speech with a comment on the increasing accessibility of modern technologies in Africa, which, he argued, will have important implications for economic development.

IBM’s presentation at the PEI Africa Breakfast Club comes just weeks after Chairman Dr Alvaro Sobrinho commended the organisation for the work they are doing in African Universities in a post on his personal website.