Category Archives: Politics

GE Power Releases Whitepaper on Digitization of Energy Transmission Distribution in Africa

GE Power Releases Whitepaper on Digitization of Energy Transmission amp; Distribution in Africa:

bull;White paper highlights future of smart energy in Sub-Saharan countries, its challenges and opportunities

bull;Discusses role of smart technology to transform grids and the way energy is generated, distributed, traded, managed and stored

bull;Underscores necessary steps to grid modernization

bull;Recommends holistic solutions to leapfrog ahead Africa’s energy sector and showcases regional examples

As Africa faces emerging opportunities to help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to consumers, GE Power’s Grid Solutions business (www.GEGridSolutions.com) (NYSE: GE) (www.GE.com) today unveiled a whitepaper on the Digitization of Energy Transmission amp; Distribution in Africa.rdquo; The paper explores the opportunities and challenges faced in Sub-Saharan Africa as the new future of energy and electrification emerges. The paper also looks at the role of smart technology to transform grids as they continue to reflect the changes in the way energy is generated, distributed, traded, managed and stored.

Co-authored by the Strategic Marketing unit of GE Power in Sub-Saharan Africa and Energy amp; Environment Research Analysts of Frost amp; Sullivan, the white paper presents several challenges that affect energy access and power supply stability in Africa. They include inadequate power generation but more significantly, low levels of electrification caused primarily by faulty, aged or wrong setup of transmission and distribution infrastructure.

With the digital transformation of the energy sector rapidly gaining traction on a global scale, new opportunities are emerging to help deliver efficient, affordable and reliable electricity to consumers. According to the whitepaper, smart grids can create the potential to combat SSA’s power sector challenges, and provide the opportunity for the region to develop its energy capabilities and, therefore its energy security as well as security of supply. The digital transformation of grids allows users to take a holistic approach to achieve efficiency, flexibility, transparency and long-term sustainability.

Information Communication Technology Integration will support real-time or deferred bi-directional data transmission that will enable stakeholders to efficiently manage the grid through increased speed and volume of data output, providing utilities the opportunity to maximize cost reductions, increase power reliability and increase customer satisfaction

Wide Area Monitoring and Control ensures visibility into the power systems to observe the performance of grid components allowing for major cost-saving benefits associated with predictive maintenance and self-diagnosis.

Smart technology like Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs), Advanced metering infrastructure and grid automation ensure seamless transition and integration of renewable generation or micro-grids where necessary; predictive maintenance in distributed grids to reduce outages; and effective revenue management.

Transmission and distribution networks are seen to be the weakest links in Africa’s power systems and hence represent a huge opportunity area for improvement,rdquo; said Lazarus Angbazo, CEO, GE’s Grid Solutions business, Sub Saharan Africa. Going forward, there is a need to move beyond simply maintaining and repairing aged infrastructure. To truly advance the power sector, a holistic approach needs to be adopted; one that ensures sustainability, reliability and longevity of power supply. By utilizing internet of things (IoT) technology, the smarter grids of tomorrow will deliver all-encompassing solutions based on the convergence of operating technology (OT) with information technology (IT) and incorporating emerging concepts such as distributed generation and energy storage,rdquo; he further added.

Smart grids will play a key role in the region’s transition to a sustainable energy system through facilitating smooth integration of new energy sources; promoting interoperability between all types of equipment; enabling the growth of distributed generation and its potential incorporation into the main grid; supporting demand-side management; and providing flexibility and visibility of the entire grid. GE’s grid solutions six-step process highlighted in the whitepaper will help utilities along the digitization journey of their energy infrastructure.

Source: GE.

After Decades-Long Hiatus, Russia Seeks Renewed Africa Ties

On Sunday, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, will visit Rwanda to meet his counterpart, Louise Mushikiwabo, and President Paul Kagame. They plan to discuss economic development and fighting terrorism, Russia’s foreign ministry said, along with Russia’s involvement with the Africa Union, which Kagame chairs until the end of the year.

Lavrov’s Rwanda trip follows a five-nation Africa tour in March and highlights Russia’s interest in deepening its involvement across the continent.

After that trip, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia decided to cancel more than $20 billion in debt contracted by African nations to help the continent overcome poverty.

Russia is looking at Africa as a potential trading partner. It’s looking at Africa as a partner in this desire of Russia to create a multipolar world, Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told VOA by phone.

Beyond arms deals

Those partnerships have historically centered on arms sales, with documented deals between Russia and at least 30 African nations, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

They have three refurbishment plants at the moment already in the continent, including in South Africa, said Alex Vines, a former U.N. sanctions inspector who’s now with the London-based think tank Chatham House. That’s worked quite well for them, and Russian military equipment is pretty robust, fairly low maintenance. And that has made the Russians attractive.

Increasingly, Russia has sought deals beyond weapons, including agreements to extract minerals, provide nuclear power, and boost its political and cultural influence in Africa.

Those efforts could translate into favorable votes at the U.N., where three African countries now serve on the Security Council.

The consequences of Russia’s re-emergence in Africa aren’t yet clear, experts say. But the implications could be profound, especially with new opportunities to partner with China and a U.S.-Africa strategy that remains largely undefined.

Soviet-era ties

Before its collapse, the Soviet Union enjoyed an extensive military presence in Africa � historic ties that bolster Russia’s efforts to reinvigorate its presence on the continent.

In the Cold War era, the Soviet Union established naval bases across Africa, including facilities in Egypt, Ethiopia, Angola, Libya and Tunisia.

Those bases were decommissioned when the Soviet Union fell, but military deals continued.

Between 1990 and 2017, Russia and Egypt, for example, engaged in nearly 30 arms deals, mainly for surface-to-air missiles and related technologies, according to SIPRI.

Now Russia is seeking partnerships that broaden its interests. Vines told VOA that Russia’s aims are expanding from security to trade and resources.

One example is Angola, which benefited from Soviet support when it gained independence from Portugal in 1975. Now, Russia is involved in diamond mining in the country and, according to Vines, may build a new telecommunications center in Angola at their own cost.

There will be some new relationships which are more mercantile (focuses) and based probably around extractives, Vines said. I think we will see more trips of the foreign minister of Russia, Lavrov, and some of his colleagues into Africa in the future for that very reason.

Securing votes

Russia also has political reasons to court African leaders.

Having long faced sanctions against itself and its trading partners, as well as an extended economic downturn, Russia needs African votes at the United Nations, Vines said, to accomplish its broader goals.

Russia has tried to sidestep U.N. sanctions and U.S. trade embargoes against countries it seeks arms deals with, Stronski said.

Allies in Africa could make that a lot easier. The continent’s 54 nations have considerable sway in the General Assembly, and CAte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia hold temporary seats on the powerful Security Council.

‘No questions asked’

For African countries with emerging economies and authoritative governments, Russia, like China, represents an appealing partner: willing to engage, with few rules or requirements.

Russia comes with, right now, sort of ‘no questions asked’ diplomacy, Stronski said.

That’s good for African leaders, who benefit from added incentives and loose restrictions on the deals they make. But it also fuels corruption, according to Stronski, and that prevents citizens from benefiting from partnerships as much as they could.

There is a lot of discussion about how Russian arms help fuel instability and fuel conflict on the African continent, Stronski said. But African governments also risk a backlash, especially in countries with robust media playing a watchdog role, he added.

That’s a narrative Russia has sought to flip.

Russia presents this vision of the West as sort of being an instability fueler and talk about how the bombing of Libya helped create sort of a power vacuum that has sort of led to the spread of weapons throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Stronski said.

A multipolar world, rather than one dominated by the U.S., is one of Russia’s key strategic objectives, he added.

Setbacks

Russia’s efforts in Africa haven’t produced results at every turn. One failed venture appears to be in Djibouti, which Vines likened to an aircraft carrier for Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Five countries have established military bases in the tiny East African country, most recently China. Russia sought to subcontract space from China, Vines said. But Djibouti, facing pressure from the U.S. and its Western allies, blocked the deal.

Without access to China’s facility, Russia’s options are limited, Stronski said.

I don’t see Russia really having the funds, the resources to put anything beyond a very limited port call or landing and refilling rights, he said.

Playing catch-up

Whether Russia can translate its renewed investments in Africa into major economic or political benefits isn’t clear, both Stronski and Vines said.

That’s in part because others, including Europe, the U.S., Gulf countries and China, are far ahead, according to Stronski.

They closed down many of their embassies, and they really focused more closer to home. And now, in the last five years, they’ve realized that they were needing to play catch-up in Africa, Stronski said.

Russia also faces financial constraints, particularly relative to China.

The Russian Federation is by no means a Soviet Union, and it doesn’t have the deep pockets (or) the capacity to extend itself globally in the way that the Soviet Union was able to, Vines said.

Despite these limitations, Russia’s rising profile has clear implications for the U.S., according to Stronski.

The United States should look at this as a warning sign and should develop a more coherent and clear policy of what it sees as U.S. interests in the African continent. And I don’t see a very coherent message coming out of either the State Department or the White House right now on that issue, he said.

Source: Voice of America

After Decades-Long Hiatus, Russia Seeks Renewed Africa Ties

On Sunday, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, will visit Rwanda to meet his counterpart, Louise Mushikiwabo, and President Paul Kagame. They plan to discuss economic development and fighting terrorism, Russia’s foreign ministry said, along with Russia’s involvement with the Africa Union, which Kagame chairs until the end of the year.

Lavrov’s Rwanda trip follows a five-nation Africa tour in March and highlights Russia’s interest in deepening its involvement across the continent.

After that trip, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia decided to cancel more than $20 billion in debt contracted by African nations to help the continent overcome poverty.

Russia is looking at Africa as a potential trading partner. It’s looking at Africa as a partner in this desire of Russia to create a multipolar world, Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told VOA by phone.

Beyond arms deals

Those partnerships have historically centered on arms sales, with documented deals between Russia and at least 30 African nations, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

They have three refurbishment plants at the moment already in the continent, including in South Africa, said Alex Vines, a former U.N. sanctions inspector who’s now with the London-based think tank Chatham House. That’s worked quite well for them, and Russian military equipment is pretty robust, fairly low maintenance. And that has made the Russians attractive.

Increasingly, Russia has sought deals beyond weapons, including agreements to extract minerals, provide nuclear power, and boost its political and cultural influence in Africa.

Those efforts could translate into favorable votes at the U.N., where three African countries now serve on the Security Council.

The consequences of Russia’s re-emergence in Africa aren’t yet clear, experts say. But the implications could be profound, especially with new opportunities to partner with China and a U.S.-Africa strategy that remains largely undefined.

Soviet-era ties

Before its collapse, the Soviet Union enjoyed an extensive military presence in Africa � historic ties that bolster Russia’s efforts to reinvigorate its presence on the continent.

In the Cold War era, the Soviet Union established naval bases across Africa, including facilities in Egypt, Ethiopia, Angola, Libya and Tunisia.

Those bases were decommissioned when the Soviet Union fell, but military deals continued.

Between 1990 and 2017, Russia and Egypt, for example, engaged in nearly 30 arms deals, mainly for surface-to-air missiles and related technologies, according to SIPRI.

Now Russia is seeking partnerships that broaden its interests. Vines told VOA that Russia’s aims are expanding from security to trade and resources.

One example is Angola, which benefited from Soviet support when it gained independence from Portugal in 1975. Now, Russia is involved in diamond mining in the country and, according to Vines, may build a new telecommunications center in Angola at their own cost.

There will be some new relationships which are more mercantile (focuses) and based probably around extractives, Vines said. I think we will see more trips of the foreign minister of Russia, Lavrov, and some of his colleagues into Africa in the future for that very reason.

Securing votes

Russia also has political reasons to court African leaders.

Having long faced sanctions against itself and its trading partners, as well as an extended economic downturn, Russia needs African votes at the United Nations, Vines said, to accomplish its broader goals.

Russia has tried to sidestep U.N. sanctions and U.S. trade embargoes against countries it seeks arms deals with, Stronski said.

Allies in Africa could make that a lot easier. The continent’s 54 nations have considerable sway in the General Assembly, and CAte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea and Ethiopia hold temporary seats on the powerful Security Council.

‘No questions asked’

For African countries with emerging economies and authoritative governments, Russia, like China, represents an appealing partner: willing to engage, with few rules or requirements.

Russia comes with, right now, sort of ‘no questions asked’ diplomacy, Stronski said.

That’s good for African leaders, who benefit from added incentives and loose restrictions on the deals they make. But it also fuels corruption, according to Stronski, and that prevents citizens from benefiting from partnerships as much as they could.

There is a lot of discussion about how Russian arms help fuel instability and fuel conflict on the African continent, Stronski said. But African governments also risk a backlash, especially in countries with robust media playing a watchdog role, he added.

That’s a narrative Russia has sought to flip.

Russia presents this vision of the West as sort of being an instability fueler and talk about how the bombing of Libya helped create sort of a power vacuum that has sort of led to the spread of weapons throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Stronski said.

A multipolar world, rather than one dominated by the U.S., is one of Russia’s key strategic objectives, he added.

Setbacks

Russia’s efforts in Africa haven’t produced results at every turn. One failed venture appears to be in Djibouti, which Vines likened to an aircraft carrier for Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Five countries have established military bases in the tiny East African country, most recently China. Russia sought to subcontract space from China, Vines said. But Djibouti, facing pressure from the U.S. and its Western allies, blocked the deal.

Without access to China’s facility, Russia’s options are limited, Stronski said.

I don’t see Russia really having the funds, the resources to put anything beyond a very limited port call or landing and refilling rights, he said.

Playing catch-up

Whether Russia can translate its renewed investments in Africa into major economic or political benefits isn’t clear, both Stronski and Vines said.

That’s in part because others, including Europe, the U.S., Gulf countries and China, are far ahead, according to Stronski.

They closed down many of their embassies, and they really focused more closer to home. And now, in the last five years, they’ve realized that they were needing to play catch-up in Africa, Stronski said.

Russia also faces financial constraints, particularly relative to China.

The Russian Federation is by no means a Soviet Union, and it doesn’t have the deep pockets (or) the capacity to extend itself globally in the way that the Soviet Union was able to, Vines said.

Despite these limitations, Russia’s rising profile has clear implications for the U.S., according to Stronski.

The United States should look at this as a warning sign and should develop a more coherent and clear policy of what it sees as U.S. interests in the African continent. And I don’t see a very coherent message coming out of either the State Department or the White House right now on that issue, he said.

Source: Voice of America

CUBA’S LINKS WITH AFRICA ARE INDESTRUCTIBLE – FM

HAVANA– In an event held for Africa Day, which commemorates the founding of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU), Cuban officials celebrated links between the Caribbean island and African nations.

I tell you that the relations between Cuba and Africa are indestructible and that we will continue reinforcing the bonds of cooperation and solidarity in benefit of our people, Vice Foreign Minister Rogelio Sierra said.

He said that the links between Africa and Cuba are an essential part of Cuban history, cemented in deep cultural roots derived in shameful slavery.”

Cuba, since the revolution led by the late Comandante Fidel Castro, has consistently shown its solidarity with African countries, from the revolutionary fighters they sent to Angola, to the doctors sent to West Africa during the Ebola outbreak.

The Foreign Minister spoke on the importance of African countries in international relations and emphasized their right to have permanent representation in the United Nations Security Council.

According to Sierra, Cubans are working on projects in nearly every African country, with more than five thousand Cubans offering services ranging from healthcare, education, construction, sports, and agriculture. Nearly nine thousand African students are currently studying in Cuban universities, he said.

In addition to Sierra, the event was headed by the Cuban Vice President, Salvador Valdes, the Foreign Relations Minister Bruno Rodriguez, and the Head of International Relations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Jose Ramon Balaguer.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

WHO Prepares for ‘Worst Case Scenario’ for DRC Ebola Outbreak

The World Health Organization said Friday it is preparing for “the worst case scenario” for an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

WHO said Thursday that between April 4 and May 5, twenty-seven cases of fever with hemorrhagic signs, including 17 deaths, were reported in the DRC’s Bikoro district. WHO says two of the cases tested positive for the Ebola virus.

The DRC Ministry of Public Health has requested WHO’s support in coordinating the international and NGO response to the health crisis.

The full extent of the outbreak is not yet known, according to WHO, and the location presents “significant logistical challenges.” The affected area is remote with limited communication and poor transportation infrastructure.

Ebola, named for the Congolese river near where it was first identified in 1976, begins with a sudden fever, aching muscles, diarrhea and vomiting. It is a hemorrhagic fever, marked by spontaneous bleeding from internal organs and, in most cases, death. It can be transmitted by close contact with infected animals or people, usually through blood or other bodily fluids.

People can contract the virus through direct contact with victims’ bodies at funerals. Caretakers, nurses and doctors treating Ebola patients also are at high risk.

WHO says the outbreak in Bikoro is the ninth outbreak of Ebola in the DRC since it first emerged in 1976.

Source: Voice of America