Is government intervention hampering private investment into East-African renewables?

Many experts believe the contribution of governments within East-Africa is slowing the speed of growth in the renewable energies sector. Government involvement in the design, development and operation of mini-grids is deterring potential private investments; private investments into East-African renewable energies were predicted to surge in recent years but this has not been the case.
Experts from within the sector are pointing the finger at government agencies that are crowding out the developers using legal and political tools that are in need of reforms. Private companies have indeed shown an interest in investing but they have insisted the power and subsidies given to government companies need addressing if their investment is to be warranted.
Kenya’s ministry of energy has said that overall electricity access has increased within the country from 23 percent in 2009 to 50 percent in 2015; however, the unequal distribution of this electricity is still highly prevalent with much of northern Kenya still deprived of such resource. Regions such as northern Kenya have access of about 5 percent. It says eight out of the 20 poorest parliamentary constituencies “where 74 percent to 97 percent of people live below poverty line” are found in this northern region.
A number of renewable energies companies would happily address this problem, through investment into the northern and other neglected territories of Kenya, however, the unfair position of power given to Kenya’s Rural Electrification Authority (REA), just completely deters these prospective companies.

In countries such as Kenya, which has such vast areas which do not have access to any electricity, mini-grids are definitely a better option to grid extension; it provides better quality and more reliable electricity to remote areas.

Hyperloop One to debut in UAE

Hyperloop One, the firm who have carried and developed the brain-child of tech-innovator Elon Musk, has signed a deal with the Dubai’s head of transport. On the 8th November, the company announced that it’s highly likely the very first version of the futuristic transport system will connect Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
In a promotional video, the company claimed that the journey between the two cities which traditionally takes about 1 and a half hours, will take just 12 minutes inside the Hyperloop. The high-speed transportation system would use electric propulsion to accelerate a passenger or cargo pod through a low-pressure tube at speeds of up to 700mph. The vehicle would levitate above the track, which is likely to be built on stilts above the ground.
Hyperloop One, which hosted its Dubai announcement at the top of the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa – has signed a feasibility deal with the emirate’s roads and transportation agency. The firm has said they will explore the feasibility of testing the technology at Dubai’s Jebel Ali port, where they hope a successful testing period will lead to further confidence from the city and countries officials.

It is important to note that due to the extreme innovation behind the Hyperloop, it’s still very much in the preliminary stages and therefore, the details revealed were very limited and it’s likely to be a considerable amount of time till we see this system get anywhere near public use.

Ta prochaine maison pourrait être un conteneur d’expédition

Les boîtes en acier sont en train de devenir les nouveaux blocs de construction urbaine avec une particulière attention à stimuler l’achat des maisons à bon marché.

Un connu architect american qui s’appelle Price et son éponyme entreprise de design ont utilisé des conteneurs d’expédition longs 12 mètres, comme des géants blocs de Lego, pour construire trois complexes d’appartements à Washington D.C., qui est une ville où habituellement le prix moyen pou un studio est de 2,250 $, selon apartmentlist.com, et dans le classement Washington se trouve seulement après Boston, San Francisco et New York.

Les conteneurs d’expédition ont 2 mètres de largeur et 12 mètres de longueur, et donc chacun peut former un espace habitable de 28 mètre carré. Ils sont liés ensemble et peuvent former un notable espace habitable horizontal ou vertical.

Price est fermement convaincu que c’est un’idée géniale parce qu’il s’agit des nouveaux blocs de construction du 21ème siècle.

Toutefois comme il s’agit d’une nouveauté, elles ont un inconvénient,c’est- à-dire qu’elles sont vu comme des maisons mobiles et donc on se pose la question s’il vaut la peine de financer cet projet. En effet les maisons mobiles ou bien les maisons préfabriquées, à cause de son nom, beaucoup de banques ne vont pas prêter une hypothèque pour la construction d’une maison mobile, à moins que les roues sont éliminées, la maison se situe sur un fondement et les installations et la plomberie sont liées. L’architect Day a dit: “S’on se attache pas à une fondation permanente, il est difficile d’obtenir une hypothèque”.

En outre, les maisons-conteneurs peuvent avoir un problème de financement, parce que comme Day a dit, ils avaient presenté leur projet en disant qu’on pouvait aussi le déconstruire après pour construire quelque chose plus grande. Mais comme il était facile de le démonter, le développeur ne l’a pas acheté.

Toutefois, même si le design a rapporté beaucoup des reconnaissances, les frais pour utiliser métallurgistes et soudeurs pour joindre les conteneurs et fabriquer portes et fenêtres et aussi la méconnaissance du design comparé aux coûts de charpenterie traditionnelle (115$ pour mètre carré), rendent une vente difficile au développeur.

Les maisons-conteneurs assourent une vie accessible, et ils sont construits assez rapidement. Un projet de maisons-conteneurs a été fait à Washington, dans le quartier d’Edgewood, et il a fallu seulement sept mois pour l’élaborer et pour le construire.

Main on a été soulevé quelques préoccupations sur la sécurité des maisons-conteneurs, parce que étant donné que les casiers maritimes ont des sols en bois qui sont souvent traités avec des pesticides pour prévenir l’infestation ainsi que des substances chimiques qui préviennent la corrosion de l’air salé.

L’architect Day a dit que pour cette raison le recyclage de conteneurs d’expédition doit être fait trè minutieusement.

Le ralentissement économique globale peut aussi aider à rendre plus disponibles les containeurs d’expédition. Price a noté que chaque année il y a environ 2 millions de conteneurs laissés ”au repos” dans les ports.

Enfin, les maisons-conteneurs ne sont pas toujours économiques. Tandis que un conteneur peut être acheté avec 3,000$, une maison entièrement équipée, de luxe peut coûter 75,000$ ou bien 100,000$, dépendant de ferrures, matériaux isolants, revêtements et équipements du paroi et du sol. La seule chose qu’on économise c’est du temps. En effet la structure d’un appartement à plusieurs étages peut être assemblé en quelques heures et construit seulement en quelques jours plutôt qu’en quelques mois.

L’architect Day c’est très optimiste à propos de ce projet, il affirme: “Il y a beaucoup de personnes qui sont interessées sur ce projet. Le public c’est très excité et je pense que la nouvelle génération a envie d’un projet comme ça”.

How drones are revolutionizing the construction industry

Drones have been one of the fastest growing phenomenon’s in the last few years, both in terms of private and commercial use. To be the expansion into context, back in 2012 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimated that by 2012, 30’000 drones will be operating in US airspace; at this current time (2016) around 2.5 million drones are operational in the United States, of which 500’000 are being used commercially. Unsurprisingly, the FAA has since revised their forecast and now predicts the country will have 7 million drones in the air by 2020.
Many believe drones are the next step in the process of the ‘industrial revolution’. Before the availability of the modern cranes and industrial equipment, we rely so heavily upon today, laborers would be forced to complete every single job on the construction site by hand. Jobs that today take months to complete would have in years gone by taken years, and in maybe 20 years time, the jobs we see today taking months could take weeks, thanks to the use of drones.
Assessing the earth for the foundations of construction is also something that a drone can be considerably more efficient for. Traditional land survey equipment gets the job done and provides accurate results, however, when the apt software is installed into a drone, it will also attain accurate result but it will complete the job in a time 85-percent quicker at a cost of 10 times cheaper than traditional methods.
Furthermore, the job a project manager is also made fundamentally easier through the assistance of drones. In years gone by builders manually assessed project dimensions, which would predominantly be unreliable, timely and costly.  By using drone data tools, the drone can automatically measure essential projects components, such as stockpile volumetric, whilst also sending instant feedback to the project manager who can begin analysis.
Drones are becoming increasingly common in day-to-day life but this is just for leisure, more importantly, drones are becoming more and more prevalent in a variety of industries but none more crucially than construction. Construction is an industry very much built on efficiency, in the sense of cost and time; hence the reason drones potentially have such a pivotal role to play, when the above reasons are taken into consideration.

You would be a brave person to bet against drones being a key player in the next industrial revolution.

Hotel developments to lead the way for growth in African tourism

A number of the world’s largest hotel chains are betting on Africa being their next big investment opportunity. Africa’s tourism sector is already on a momentous upwards slope and this is the obvious trend that has caught the attention of some of the world’s most renowned hotel names, such as, The Hilton, Fairmont and the Jumeirah group. Starwood, Marriot and the Four Seasons have also publically stated they intend on investing heavily across North, South and Central Africa in the five-years between now and 2021 that experts predict will be one of the largest periods of hotel growth in the continent’s history.
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa is currently rising at an astronomical rate; last year, the global growth rate of FDI was 1%, whereas in Africa they experienced a 7% growth. Paul Frimpong, Investor Analyst at international business facilitation experts Naseba, said: “The enormous potential of the African continent cannot be emphasized enough. Africa is the fastest growing region for FDIs in the world. Aggregate household consumption will reach $1.4 trillion with collective GDP hitting $2.6 trillion in 2020 alone. These facts show that with the understanding of the growth momentum, combined with the right strategies, presents handsome rewards for current and prospective investors in the region.”

Not only does the hotel boom in Africa provide more opportunity for the tourism industry but it also presents an abundance of opportunity for the continents architects, interior designers, real estate developers, buyers and engineers working on not only hospitality, but retail, commercial and residential developments.

 

Is there such a thing as too much profit? One company thinks so.

Fanuc is a group of companies located across the globe, headquartered in Japan; Fanuc is one of the world’s leading producers of autonomous products and services such as robotics and computer numerical control systems. The primary consumers of Fanuc products are those of US and Japanese automobile and electronics manufacturers. Due to the robotics provided by Fanuc, Panasonics factories in Amagasaki can produce 2 million televisions a month… with just 25 employees. Fanuc is the global leader of factory automation systems.
However, recently instated president Kenji Yamaguchi has said that a company can indeed make too much profit; this was said referring to the fact the company made 43% profit in 2011. Fanuc are without doubt the one of the biggest suppliers of factory equipment and therefore, it must be of concern that China, the biggest manufacturer in the world is showing it’s worth growth rates for two decades.

When reaching profit levels of 43% in 2011, Fanuc was every investors dream; however Yamaguchi has warned investors to not be expecting those rates anytime soon. Yamaguchi even controversially admitted that there is perhaps such thing as too much profit, he stated that if you are making that much money, you are probably not investing enough into the company’s future. To confirm that Yamaguchi was not bluffing, Fanuc have now ventured into a series of investments that might not necessarily reach profits for 5 or 10 years, and last month Fanuc announced it had purchased land for a new industrial robot factory and Yamaguchi said it plans to spend several hundred million dollars to as much as double its production capacity for them.

In May, the company completed two new research centers at its headquarters. To staff them, Yamaguchi said Fanuc more than tripled its hiring of engineers over the last few years to about 100 annually. Overall, headcount has grown by more than 1,000 since 2013, a 20 percent increase.
Well, Fanuc are not holding back and as the world becomes more involved in autonomous motors with the latest announcements, you can only think that Fanuc are going to have a big role to play in the advancements of the autonomous industry.

CHINA OFFICIALLY BANS “WEIRD” ARCHITECTURE

The Chinese government wants to officially put an end to the recent trend of bizarre architecture that’s swept the country. Years of strong economic growth had fueled a construction boom and the rise of strange and eye-catching architecture – from a teapot-shaped building to the Rem Koolhaas-designed CCTV skyscraper that looks like a pair of trousers. The ban came as part of a new State Council guideline released by the central government on Sunday.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping first called for an end to “weird architecture” back in 2014, when he harangued many of the country’s unusually shaped buildings, including copycat architecture of famous Western landmarks, from a replica of the U.S. Capitol to an entire clone of the UNESCO-protected Austrian Hallstatt village. According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the directive states that urban architecture should henceforth be “suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye,” and not “oversized, xenocentric, [and] weird.”

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More than just an eyesore, many of these odd urban monuments are also considered a misappropriation of taxpayer money. Liu Shilin, head of the Institute of Urban Science at Shanghai Jiaotong University, told SCMP that quite a few of these “weird” publicly funded buildings didn’t serve any civic purpose, were costly to maintain and were actually torn down soon after competition. The State Council directive has yet to release a set of criteria that defines “weird” architecture.

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Source: http://inhabitat.com/ (Lucy Wang)