The Interesting Relationship Between Germans and Jamaicans: Resolving an Energy Crisis by Shedding Light on it.

What Do Jamaicans and Germans Have in Common? History, Tourism, Sports, and Clean Energy: Jamaica is on its way to resolving its own energy crisis.

“Out of Many, One People” – motto of Jamaica

The economic powerhouse that is the Federal Republic of Germany has an interesting relationship with the small island nation of Jamaica. The relationship is mutual in that Jamaicans and Germans have been working together on a few projects that involve government institutions, tourism and non-governmental organizations. From a historical point of view, there have been communities of ethnic Germans in Jamaica for more than 150 years. Where is the real connection between the two distinct countries?

Jamaica was inhabited by what anthropologists and historians refer to as Arawak or Taíno peoples, who settled the islands in the Caribbean, sailing from the South American mainland, since before the common era.  In 1494, during the second voyage of Christopher Columbus to the Caribbean, the island was then known as Xaymaca by the native Taínos. At first, the island was claimed by Spain until English privateers, corsairs, and pirates attacked Spanish vessels that circulated the Caribbean. In 1655, the Spanish lost the island to the English and until this day remains part of the British Commonwealth of Nations (hence Jamaica is an Anglophonic nation).

When the English took over the island they continued – as the Spanish did – to exploit the land, and the people, to the point where they engaged in the use of imported slave labor of African peoples. Jamaica became one the largest exporters of sugar, rum and molasses (many indigenous Taínos were killed or died of disease as a result of the Spanish and English occupations).

During the 1830s, after slavery was abolished in the British colonies, 19th-century scientific racism fueled racial bitterness that Europeans had after losing a virtually free source of labor. The British-Jamaicans therefore looked to Europe for cheap labor. Indentured servants from Europe essentially paid their way to the New World by agreeing to work in the British colonies for a number of years – among this group of indentured servants came a group of about 350 Germans to a Jamaican plantation.

Since the 1830s, there have been Germans or “Germaicans” living in Jamaica. After a few generations of living in Jamaica, almost all of them have lost their German language and completely integrated as Jamaican people by culture, but their physical attributes look very much German (i.e., blond hair, fair skin, and freckles).

For almost half a century, Jamaica has become a popular tourist destination for Americans, Britons, and Europeans. Jamaica has been popular with Germans from the spread of Reggae music and Rastafari, which was made popular by the likes of Bob Marley & The Wailers, Burning Spear and Peter Tosh. It is not uncommon to see Germans who have an affinity for deadlocks, ganja, and eating I-tal food.

The exchange of cultural icons and interests are mutual in recent days as Jamaicans are surprisingly interested in the Germany national football team. Jamaicans love football(soccer), and support a variety of national teams, but one thing is for sure: Germany is a favorite. It is not uncommon to see that during the world Cup, Jamaicans are flying the flags of countries like Germany, Argentina and Brazil in support.

The most important relationship Germans and Jamaicans have nowadays has to do with clean energy. Jamaica has been importing costly and highly-contaminating diesel fuel in order to generate electricity. There is a new initiative to ween Jamaica off petroleum by installing solar panels and wind turbines. The German Ministry of the Environment has been working with a few countries in the Caribbean to outline a plan to make sustainable or green energy more available.

The Tourism industry, which has seen a lack of visitors to Jamaica in recent years, might get an upswing from new developments in clean energy cooperation from other countries besides Germany such as Spain and Cuba. The Grand Palladium Resort & Spa in Hanover, Jamaica is the largest photovoltaic (solar) plant on the island. This Spanish hotel boasts a capacity of 1.6MW from a solar roof-top system that uses photovoltaic cells manufactured by a German company called IBC solar, but installed by a local company called Sofos Jamaica based out of Kingston, Jamaica. The hotel expects to save about $730,000 each year in energy cost (not to mention the barrels of petroleum that will be saved). At a rate of 2.2 million kWh per year electricity production and 17,000 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels, Jamaica could essentially be petroleum free after building only about 1,000 of these facilities.

Jamaica’s neighbor Cuba has also been trying to cooperate in the fabrication and installation of solar panels in their respective island-nations (instead of buying them from Germany or China). Not only will it reduce their dependence on fossil fuels for energy, but also create job opportunities in fabricating, installing and maintaining photovoltaic cells all over the Caribbean.

Last but not least, the German Embassy of Jamaica has been making an effort to bring about self sufficiency for an educational center – an NGO in Cassava Piece, Kingston – with a donation of JM$2.1 million for the installation of German-made solar panels. A Jamaican-based company installed the German-made solar panels for HELP Jamaica! Educational Center. This system was installed in late 2012, and is probably the only NGO on the island that is powered with 100% clean energy.

With the realization of a market open to innovation to solve its energy problems, it is interesting to see how Germans and Jamaicans have at least a few things in common. Cooperation in clean energy tend to bring countries together, unlike their rivals in the petroleum industry, which tends to drive a firm wedge between them.

By. Opton A. Martin

 

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Rajoy Viaja a la Cumbre de la Unión Africana: Agricultura y Seguridad Alimentaria, Pero Hay Otro Tema Oculto

¨No puede combatir el fuego con fuego, hay que combatir el fuego con agua¨

¿Hay otro tema oculto en la Cumbre de la Unión Africana 2014 en Malabo? Es posible que la seguridad alimentaria pasará a segundo término a la seguridad militar.

El Presidente del Gobierno de España Mariano Rajoy visitó hoy a la cumbre de la Unión Africana como invitado. Felicitó a los estados miembros por su crecimiento económico porque muchos países africanos han crecido más económicamente que España después de la crisis financiera de los años 2007/2008. Afortunadamente, Rajoy no se metió la pata como en 2012 cuando dijo ¨Aguanta, España no es Uganda¨.

Comentó sobre España y si necesitaba ayuda financiera del FMI (la economía de Uganda creció un tal 6,98% entre 2003-2013, mientras la de España fluctuó entre zero a alrededor de 1,2% en los últimos tiempos). Rajoy fue el único cabeza del estado europeo invitado a la cumbre africana y pronunció un discurso diciendo que España no tiene nada para ofrecer a África, pero si quiere un socio para más crecimiento económico que España estaría disponible. Igualmente importante, Rajoy busca apoyo de los africanos para un asiento en el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU.

Mariano Rajoy y Teodoro Obiang se ha reunido en Malabo, la capital de Guinea Ecuatorial. Obiang ha sido el dictador de Guinea Ecuatorial desde 1979 tras un golpe de estado contra su tío, Francisco Macías. Relaciones entre los dos países ha permanecido distante desde 1991 cuando Felipe Gonzales fue el último presidente español en visitar a la capital de Guinea Equatorial.

Con respecto a la cumbre Africano, Rajoy intenta mantener su distancia del dictador africano que no tiene popularidad entre todos los españoles, independientemente del partido político, pero afirmó que ¨debo estar¨. Aunque la cumbre se trata de agricultura y seguridad alimentaria, la Unión Africana tiene planes para formar una fuerza militar se llama The African Standby Force 0 Las Fuerzas Africanas de Emergencia, la cual, sería como las Fuerzas de paz de las Naciones Unidas pero controlado por líderes africanos.

Desde enero de 2014, el actual presidente de la Unión Africana es Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, y además, es presidente de la República Islámica de Mauritania (como Obiang, consiguió la presidencia a través de un golpe de estado).

La Unión Europea y la Unión Africana mantiene la lucha contra el terrorismo y extremismo en sus territorios. Francia luchó en el conflicto en el norte de Malí contra el Movimiento Nacional para la Liberación de Azawad, lo cual, es una banda separatista que lucha para formar un estado para los tuaregs (un pueblo bereber de nómadas del norte de África).

Entre los tuaregs separatistas, Boko Haram (un grupo terrorista basada en el norte de Nigeria), Al-Qaeda, y el grupo terrorista hoy conocido como ISIS o ISIL (Estado Islámico de Irak y el Levante), Europa y África tienen problemas de seguridad contra la propagación de movimientos separatistas y terroristas. La Primavera Árabe fue muy importante para muchos países para deshacerse de dictadores, pero ha dejado un vacío de poder en aquellos lugares.

Lo que podría ser visto en un futuro próximo es la venta de armas a países en África por parte de España. Sin embargo, vender armas a países de África sería una situación nadie gana. Si la Unión Europea y la Unión Africana quiere mantener sus fronteras como tal y reducir el terrorismo, es mejor no inundar las tierras hostiles con armas porque va a provocar más terrorismo o la guerra civil (ya hemos visto lo que está pasando en Siria).

El norte de África es donde inmigrantes y sospechosos yihadistas de muchos países intentan entrar a Europa ilegalmente. En España, la gente temen otra ataque terrorista de yihadistas como la del 11-M en Madrid en 2004. España bajo Rajoy en 2012 incrementó la venta de armas a países como Marruecos, Israel, y Arabia Saudí para razones económicas y para que los aliados pueden mantener los apartheides étnicos en sus propios países.

Aunque Rajoy dijo que no tiene nada para ofrecer a África, quizás hay algo del gabinete de Rajoy y el Partido Popular que los líderes de la Unión Áfricana quieren de él.

“La mayoría prometieron ayudar a África y ofrecieron fondos y programas. Yo no vengo a ofrecer nada porque no tengo nada que los africanos no puedan darse a sí mismos. Yo vengo a pedir que cuenten con España como socio para el crecimiento. Vengo a pedir más comercio y más inversión entre nuestros países, y vengo a reiterarles que España quiere participar en el renacimiento de África”.

Parece que hoy en día hay tres fracciones luchando para el control político y económico en África del Norte y África subsahariana. Algunos grupos usan la religión o revolución como motivo. La pregunta en cuestión es si Europa quiere mantener su relación con los dictadores de África (los que también luchan contra los yihadistas) o si quiere afiliarse con los menos conocidos en las franjas de la sociedad africana que no quieren ni dictadores ni yihadistas.

La paradoja de reformar políticamente un país es apoyar el menor de dos malos. Todos recordamos a Saddam Hussein y como los Estados Unidos luchaba para convencer a los aliados de Europa que había que intervenir en Irak. Ahora, Irak está más inestable que nunca. ¨No puede combatir el fuego con fuego, hay que combatir el fuego con agua¨ se trata de usar los recursos disponibles que no toma las vidas de las personas. Si no quiere que la violencia sectaria siga manifestándose, hay que dejar de cometer los mismos errores de apoyar dictaduras.

 

Por Opton A. Martin

H.O.P.E. for Ghana’s Economic Future Needs to be Strategically Planned for Ecological Sustainability

“Success is Limited when Extravagance Exceeds Sustainability”

Building bigger, higher and faster is not always the solution for economic, social and cultural advancement. New construction projects have to be intelligently planned with a special focus on the environment, social ecology and sustainability.

The Republic of Ghana is a country whose ancient and modern history is something to be proud of: the ancient kingdom of the Ashanti, whose rich language, history and culture formed an empire that mined and traded gold with merchants from North Africa and the Sudan; the independence movements of African nations, where Ghana was at the forefront of self-governance post-colonization and Pan-Africanism ; and its growing sectors in telecommunication and tourism puts it at the top of the list as one of the most stable and friendly places in Africa to live, work and visit.

It seems like recently,  at least for its metropolitan dwellers, that parts of the Republic of Ghana are rapidly converting into an African Silicon Valley in that there is cultural emphasis and economic investment in the field of information and communication technology.  A new project currently in the works is called HOPE City, which is to be built close to the region of Accra, the coastal capital city of more than 2.2 million people.

HOPE (Home, Office, People, and Environment) is a current project for a technology park that has a goal to house 25,000 people,  offer employment opportunities to about 50,000 people, and construct the tallest building in Africa. Construction of HOPE City began in 2013 and has plans to include schools, restaurants, a university, a hospital, tech centers and more.

With a price tag of about $10 billion, this ambitious project can be a complete success not only if it all goes according to plan, but if it is ecologically sound. One important factor that owners, developers and urban planners often forget to include in their blue prints are aspects of ecological sustainability.  HOPE City is an excellent place to display how an African based and African-owned entrepreneurial enterprise can empower the skilled, educated and eager millennial generation in investing their time and energy to making their homeland truly great.

Ghana is a perfect place to continue this ICT revolution in that it has a lot of benefits many other countries in that region of West Africa do not share:

>RLG Communictions is a state-of-the-art Ghana-based tech company that makes laptops, computers and mobile phones.

> Ghana is engaging in government transparency to reduce corruption.

> The Akosombo dam in Ghana produces a lot of  hydroelectric energy for Ghana and for export.

> Ghana is a relatively stable democracy with an ever diversifying economic system: minerals, petroleum, ICT, agricultural goods, tourism, research and  manufacturing.

> Its rich culture, use of local languages and English, can help it relate it to its neighbors and their economies.  Nigeria for example could benefit from a fellow West African technology and logistics hub to build upon their own economy by trading and diversifying.

The 2020 vision for Ghana includes rapid industrialization in all industries in order to propel it into the 21st Century as a stable and technologically advanced democracy. A few things to beware of would be an excessive waste of natural resources, income inequality, and the suppression of freedom of speech. All of these factors can hamper socioeconomic growth in a place where the plight of Sub-Saharan Africa could be completely turned around.

Although Ghana has been experiencing growth from the extraction of hydrocarbon fuels, they should make it their philosophy to power HOPE City from sustainable and renewable energy sources by installing wind turbines and solar panels nearby.  In addition to energy needs, proper recycling and urban architecture must be conducive to pedestrian traffic in order to reduce dependence on personal vehicles (include a commuter rail in the project?). New structures should also adapt the idea of including rooftop and vertical gardens. The leaves of trees and plants reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, while helping to maintain a lower temperature anywhere from 3ºC   to 11ºC  by a process known as transpiration. Reducing the temperature by a natural process  reduces the energy needed to cool structures, and provides an ecological environment that adds to the livability factor of a new human development.

Income inequality should be tackled by providing living spaces that are as I mentioned before, friendly to pedestrian traffic. A sprawling, ever-expanding cityscape, where personal vehicles are necessary for obtaining necessities (food, clothes, medicine, hospitals, schools, etc.) is not sustainable. As we are currently seeing in the United States, one of the most developed countries in the world, that urban sprawl is one of the causes of income inequality, crime, and poor health.

Freedom of speech, expression, religion, assembly, and the freedom to promote digital and print media, are probably the most important aspects of evolving a state socioeconomically and culturally. New ideas need to be diffused unhampered by repressive forces in order to influence more people to do better than their predecessors. The government of Ghana will have to allow for people to freely and openly criticize, protest, and demonstrate without fear of repression.

As time goes forth one can only hope and imagine what a techno-ecological revolution could bring to not only the people of Ghana, but to all those in West Africa whose skills and entrepreneurship could propel themselves beyond what no other has done before.

 

By Opton A. Martin

Are Reparations Still Relevant? Who Deserves it and When is It Acceptable?

 The controversial topic that debates whether or not monetary reparations are justifiable for people of African descent in the 21st Century.

It might be too late for some reparations, but not soon enough for others.

The question of whether or not European and American governments should give reparations for slavery to people of African descent in the form of money or land comes from a few different sources: African-Americans (in all of the Americas); Haiti, for declaring their independence in 1804; and the people of the continent of Africa, for the European Scramble for Africa.

Every region of the world has experienced epic tragedies that involved the massive loss of human life in the most inhumane ways possible. In order to recuperate from past injustices of human culture, sovereign nations have been trying to readjust their societies in order to prevent dissent, violence and mass-murder, but when profits are to be made from chaos, consolidation of power, and human exploitation, morality takes a dive, and unethical laws are written in order to protect the ruling class from future prosecution.

Using the logic of those in favor of reparations, there are a myriad of historical events in which those who had suffered, or their descendents, should also be given compensation for their suffering: The Nigerian Civil War, the Colonization of the Americas, Rwandan Genocide, Genocides in Armenia, Cambodia, and Bosnia are just a few examples of people being singled-out because of their religion or race, and subjected to imprisonment, forced labor and death.

Reparation activists worldwide point to the fact that other peoples have been offered reparations by governments for forced labor, genocide, confiscation of lands, and for losing an armed conflict (war reparations). West Germany paid $35 billion to Israel between 1953 and 1992 in an attempt to pay for subjecting the Jewish communities to forced labor, “apologize” for the rise of Nazi Germany, and for how they were brutally and systematically round up, forced into concentration camps, tortured, and killed. They were stripped of all their assets, wealth, and above all, were subject to genocide as part of a fascist, anti-Semitic ideology.

African-American reparation activists point to other examples of reparations like the Native-American community and their inclusion in the U.S. Government’s policy of establishing Indian Reservations and paying out millions of dollars to compensate for 19th Century Manifest Destiny land grabs.

Reparations for people of African-American descent: Should it be a reality? The answer is, it should have been, but now it is too late. Those who had lived through slavery, or at least their children, were going to be honored a small compensation for their labor in the form of property ownership, one of the pillars of capitalism, but the U.S. Government at the time had a history of breaking promises not only to Native-Americans, but African-Americans as well. Considering that the British and U.S. Governments had broken over 500 treaties with Native-Americans over profitable and valuable land, African-Americans were also denied what was promised, especially those promises that were made after the American Civil War during what historians refer to as the Reconstruction Era.

40 acres and a mule was an agreement met between African-American ministers, abolitionists and Union General William T. Sherman, who promised to some 40,000 freedmen land and seafront property, which was confiscated from the Confederates. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15, which occurred shortly after the American Civil War, was a way to punish the South for their attempts at succession, attacking the Union, and to break the link holding the finances between southern slavery and the Confederacy (not because of 250 years of chattel slavery). The 400,000- acre strip of land from South Carolina to Florida could have changed almost everything about modern American society and race relations in terms of education, culture, equality, and wealth in the African-American community.

The reason why so many people, black and white, are against reparations is that there is a cultural and temporal disconnect with previous generations in that Americans do not want to be held accountable, and are generally ashamed for their ancestors’ actions. Most importantly, in terms of the U.S. economy, the methodology of calculating and paying out 250 years worth of labor to descendents of Africans and African-Americans is culturally complex in that people will always contend whether or not some people of African descent deserve remuneration or not.

Whether or not reparations should be paid out, it will never happen because there are conflicts between American culture and economics. The majority of Americans are against reparations. The idea of giving a minority group of people ¨free money¨ because of a past injustice might not have the effect one would think from a cultural point of view.

Reparations for the people of Haiti: Should it be a reality? The answer is yes. The Haitian Revolution that resulted in the declaration of independence from France in 1804 came with extreme consequences. France demanded that Haiti pay 90 million gold francs for the loss of slaves and the French side of the island Hispaniola, which was called St. Dominique at the time, or risk another French invasion. From 1825 to 1947 Haiti continued to pay its “declaration of independence debt” to France, which was estimated to be more than $20 billion. Decades of economic warfare by the international community; the coup d’ état, which was suspected to be supported by the U.S., France, and allies; and the 2010 earthquake, which killed 100,000 civilians or more, were all recent events that have further crippled the sovereign nation of Haiti. At the very least, Haiti’s external debt was cancelled amidst the devastating earthquake, and $9 billion was giving in relief efforts, but it still falls short of the $20 billion that was extorted from Haiti post-independence.

Reparations for the people of Africa: Should it be a reality? The answer is yes, but not in the form of a simple payout. Reparations will come only in the form of true socioeconomic development. But first, bribery, corruption, and theft of capital must be identified, exposed, and dealt with in a way that prevents net wealth from leaving the continent.

An obvious, but not popular solution to corruption and embezzlement is transparency. Being able to track the flow of money between companies, governments, and banks will better inform the public of how their labor is paid, taxed and redistributed. To prevent government leaders from funneling money back to the U.S. or Europe, limiting the amount of money one can have in foreign bank accounts could help. However corrupt dictators may seem to the Western world, there are always enablers (Westerners) who permit this collusion of foreign aid by giving Africa money with one hand, while robbing with the other.

During the past few decades, government-to-government aid has not worked at all for economic development on the continent. Although the continent receives about $50 billion in aid each year, it is estimated that $1 trillion is stolen each year.  Most of that money ends up right back in Europe, the United States, and island tax havens. One of the best ways for economic development is to stop foreign aid as Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo describes in her critique of decades of failed policy.

“A constant stream of “free” money is a perfect way to keep an inefficient or simply bad government in power. As aid flows in, there is nothing more for the government to do — it doesn’t need to raise taxes, and as long as it pays the army, it doesn’t have to take account of its disgruntled citizens. No matter that its citizens are disenfranchised (as with no taxation there can be no representation). All the government really needs to do is to court and cater to its foreign donors to stay in power.”

Economic development cannot occur if local markets are flooded with free goods that could be produced locally. Agriculture and manufacturing take a big hit when products are routinely sent to Africa. One might think that it is generous to do so, but it effectively puts local companies out of business. Moyo offers another simple example of how foreign aid is having a reverse effect.

“A Western government-inspired program generously supplies the affected region with 100,000 free mosquito nets. This promptly puts the mosquito net manufacturer out of business, and now his 10 employees can no longer support their 150 dependents. In a couple of years, most of the donated nets will be torn and useless, but now there is no mosquito net maker to go to. They’ll have to get more aid. And African governments once again get to abdicate their responsibilities.”

In order to properly gird these concepts into the theme of reparations I must say that foreign aid to Africa does not count as reparations. The scramble for Africa by European powers in the 19th and 20th centuries absorbed all but two (Ethiopia and Liberia) sovereign states into their empires, and the amount of wealth that was stolen by declaration of war against indigenous people continues to this day with the extraction of minerals and precious metals and the round-the-clock coup d’états that occur with the help of Western interests. The exigency in which raw materials are extracted from the continent to be sent to manufacturing plants in the European Union, China, U.S.A. and Russia, leave very little to be circulated within the continent – the flow of raw materials needs to be diverted inward.

The best kind of reparation high-income nations can give to Africa is to offer something tangible like renewable energy in the form of wind turbines and solar panels to help with their energy crisis. Combining the aforementioned with proper water irrigation systems and desalinization plants are also other true forms of economic development in which all citizens could eventually build upon and stabilize their societies. Only then will much of the conflict areas soon turn into places with cultural standards in which subsisting on foreign aid and pity will be a thing of the past.

 

By Opton A. Martin

Perspective of a system in which everyone can benefit: clean energy, full employment, and reduction of illegal immigration.

Could Spain and Nigeria be great business partners for resolving unemployment and energy crisis?

 

The recent global economic crisis has left its mark on the most prosperous of nations and the least. Governments all over the world decided to “rescue” the banks by giving them loans and injecting an absurd amount of money to prevent what would be another economic catastrophe.

What happens to average citizens now that the banks and governments are back on their feet? We still have to resolve the difficulties of unemployment, climate change, and irregular immigration, and very few people in the public eye have real solutions to these problems. Politicians adopt the rhetoric of their political parties; maintain circular arguments, which have no specific solutions, in order to confuse the public.

One of these countries suffering from high unemployment, climate change, and irregular immigration is the Kingdom of Spain, which is one of the ten largest economies of the European Union (five times larger than Greece). It is recorded that over 25% of the viable workforce is unemployed – double the average in the European Union.

Recently, austerity measures that the government and companies have taken in order to lower the unemployment rate and external debt seems to be contrary to popular opinion as many employees have to work more hours, take a reduction in salary, pay more taxes, take less vacation time, and among other things, accept a hike in costs of transportation and energy. All of these factors contribute to the reduction of local spending and consumption.

Although local industries like tourism, hospitality, and manufacturing are growing, there is still a market for diversifying exports to less industrial countries that desperately need the building blocks for their economies. It should be mentioned that Spain is the only European country that has a boarder that physically touches the African continent (Ceuta and Melilla). Spain has an advantage should it choose to invest in the market of exporting renewable energy.

Increasing exports of renewable energy to countries that lack facilities to produce sufficient electricity can lower the unemployment rate both in Spain and the destined country because it opens doors to other industries. Fabricating solar panels and wind turbines for export and developing the logistics for new agricultural industries (energy efficient greenhouses and water treatment plants) are necessary for elevating the standard of living.

The most industrial countries in the world have been investing in clean energy projects to reduce global warming and climate change, but started they too late, and are not working fast enough. As the price of petroleum based products fluctuate dramatically because of oil embargoes, high tariffs, reductions in production due to sabotage, oil spills, wars, and scandals involving stolen petroleum, now more than ever is the time to abandon fossil fuels, and embrace clean energy to meet our energy needs.

The least industrial countries of the world also want to increase their economic output in order to lift their citizens out of poverty. The problem is that there is a direct correlation between rich countries with large populations and their excessive demand for petroleum and natural gas. This sends a bad message to the countries that have the largest reserves of petroleum.

Inversely, the countries that export the largest quantities of the world’s petroleum, like those that pertain to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are known for their low levels of human rights, high levels of poverty, and lack of economic diversity, which puts the environment and their socioeconomic structure at risk. It should also be mentioned that with the exception of hydroelectric dams, no country included in OPEC currently has a clean energy program. Perhaps they are going to wait until the oil wells run dry before investing in alternative forms of energy.

Popular belief states that if a country or region wants to lift itself out of poverty, it must produce and export more commodities, but it is not that easy. The fact is that less developed countries lack the infrastructure necessary to produce enough electricity, which impedes further industrialization: without sufficient electricity; there is no industry.

Nigeria is an example of a country that depends heavily on the export of petroleum for its GDP. It also suffers from an energy crisis. To put the country profile in perspective, Nigeria has a population of about 170,000,000 people, but produces less electricity than Ireland, which has about 4,800,000 people.

Nor money, nor time should be an obstacle for not having already installed some form of clean energy in Nigeria or any other country. The once world’s largest wind farm in the year 2009 is located in Roscoe, Texas. Roscoe Wind Farm, with a price tag of about $ 1.000 million, has 634 wind turbines that stretch beyond 400km2 of land. All of this took about two years to construct and gives electricity to about 250,000 homes.

For Nigeria and other countries in the African continent to diversify their economies for inter-continental trade, they need to resolve their energy crisis. To start, Nigeria would have to import wind turbines and solar panels. This year, Nigeria has opened its doors to investors, professionals and companies for the Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo. With luck, we will see not only companies interested in selling modes of alternative energy, but also those involved in ways of developing a domestic industry for African clean energy.

With respect to wind turbines, the United States, Germany, Denmark, Spain and India are home to companies that fabricate and install wind turbines in their home countries as well as in foreign countries. Due to high unemployment in Spain especially, they should be at the forefront of investments in the export of wind turbines and solar panels to open markets in Africa; they should do it before other countries in the European Union especially Germany since they have already recovered from the economic recession. Spain produces about 20% of all of its energy from renewable sources.

The current administration of Spain and other highly industrialized Western nations have recently reduced their investments in clean energy. They have taken two steps back in their attempts to reduce human dependence on fossil fuels and produce new employment opportunities in a necessary and burgeoning industry. If Spain would intend on doing more business with companies and government in the north and west of Africa by exporting wind turbines and solar panels, both partners would grow economically. Perhaps with new-found economic industries and resources less Africans would not have to risk their lives traveling by raft or crossing the Sahara to get to the barb-wired fences of Ceuta or Melilla. Unemployment is exacerbating xenophobia and racism in Europe and North America with far-right political parties blaming immigrants for ills in society.

The production of clean energy in Africa would have a two-pronged effect. First, in addition to being able to produce alternative energy locally, more industries will be possible thus, empowering the local workforce. After proper investment clean energy should be fabricated locally as many of the raw materials to make wind turbines and solar panels are mined locally. New urban centers should spring up, which can alleviate the congestion of the squalid slums of mega-cities like Lagos or Luanda.

Second, African nations can modernize their social and economic life without dependence on fossil fuel industrialization of the 20th Century, while maintaining its status as the inhabited continent that contributes the least to global warming.

There are plenty of social and political battles to confront; people of the world have to realize that we are all suffering the consequences of global warming and the rise in ocean sea levels from the contamination of fossil fuels regardless of where we live. We cannot separate social and economic problems from ecology.

Now more than ever is the time to take advantage of such an old technology like harvesting the kinetic energy from the wind, and such a new technology like photovoltaic solar cells to resolve the problems of the 21st Century.

 

By  Opton A. Martin

Perspectiva de un sistema en el que todo el mundo gana: la energía limpia, el pleno empleo y la reducción de la inmigración ilegal.

 

La reciente crisis financiera mundial ha dejado su huella en los países más prósperos y en los menos. Gobiernos de todo el mundo decidieron rescatar a los bancos ofreciéndoles préstamos para evitar lo que sería otra catástrofe financiera, según dicen.

¿Qué pasa con los ciudadanos ahora que los bancos y gobiernos están en tierra firme? Todavía hay que resolver los problemas de desempleo, el cambio climático y la inmigración irregular, y poca gente con influencias tienen soluciones reales. Los políticos siguen con la retórica banal, la cual no ofrece soluciones específicas.

España representa una de las grandes economías de la Unión Europea pero padece de un nivel de desempleo del 25%, el doble de la media de la Unión Europea. Últimamente las medidas económicas que el gobierno y las empresas han tomado para bajar el nivel del desempleo son contrarias a la opinion popular. Multitudes de empleados tienen que trabajar más horas y aguantar medidas de austeridad como reducción de los salarios, subida del IVA o reducción de días de vacaciones entre otros, por no hablar de la subida de costes de transporte y energía. Todos estos factores contribuyen a la reducción del consumo local.

Aunque industrias como el turismo y las industrias manufactureras están creciendo hay que diversificar los productos que se exportan a los países en desarrollo, que desesperadamente los necesitan para sus economías. Teniendo esto en cuenta es posible que España tenga ventaja en el mercado para exportar la energía renovable al extranjero.

Aumentar las exportaciones de energía renovable a países en los que no hay suficiente electricidad puede reducir el desempleo y abrir las puertas a otras industrias. Producir módulos fotovoltaicos, turbinas eólicas para exportar o desarrollar la logística para la industria agrícola en otros países (como los invernaderos o la potabilización del agua) es necesario para elevar el nivel de vida.

Los países más industriales del mundo ya están implementando medidas para detener o reducir el calentamiento global con inversiones en la energía limpia, pero no la suficiente velocidad. Como el precio de productos derivados del petróleo fluctúa dramáticamente dependiendo de los embargos, tarifas, reducciones de producción, derrames de petróleo, guerras y escándalos relacionados con este recurso natural, ahora más que nunca es el mejor tiempo para abandonar la dependencia de la energía derivada del petróleo y del carbón y hacer una campaña mundial para promover la producción de la energía limpia.

Los países con menos industria quieren desarrollarse en este campo para que sus ciudadanos salgan de la pobreza y participen en

el negocio del comercio mundial. El problema es que la correlación entre países ricos y el consumo del petróleo envía un mensaje equivocado a los países que con grandes reservas petrolíferas. Del mismo modo que los países que exportan la mayoría del petróleo, como los de la Organización de Países Exportadores de Petróleo (OPEP), son conocidos por su falta de derechos humanos, sus altos niveles de pobreza, y por la falta de diversidad económica, lo cual pone en riesgo al medio ambiente y al desarrollo socio-económico. También debe mencionarse que, excepto por las centrales hidroeléctricas, ningún país en la OPEP tiene proyectos de energía limpia. Tal vez vayan a esperar hasta que los pozos se sequen antes de implementar programas de energía limpia.

La creencia popular difunde la idea de que si los países más pobres quieren salir de lo que el mundo occidental considera ¨pobreza¨, tendrían que exportar más productos, pero no es así de fácil. El hecho de que estos países tengan problemas para cumplir con sus necesidades energéticas básicas les impide seguir desarrollándose, el principal obstáculo es que si un país no tiene suficiente electricidad no puede tener industria.

Nigeria es buen ejemplo de un país que depende mayormente de exportaciones de petróleo para el producto interior bruto (PIB), pero al mismo tiempo sufre de una crisis energética. Para ponerlo en perspectiva, Nigeria tiene una población de más de 170.000.000 habitantes, pero produce menos electricidad que Irlanda, la cual tiene una población de alrededor de 4.800.000.

Ni el dinero ni el tiempo deben ser un obstáculo o una excusa para no haber instalado ya energía eólica en un país como Nigeria. El precio para construir el parque eólico más grande del mundo en 2009 fue $1.000 millones. Roscoe Wind Farm, en Roscoe, Texas, tiene 634 turbinas que abarcan 400km2 de tierra. Se tardó alrededor de dos años en terminar el parque eólico en Roscoe que da electricidad a 250,000 casas.

Para que Nigeria y otros países en el continente africano diversifiquen sus intereses económicos, habría que resolver sus problemas energéticos. Para ello habría que empezar por importar turbinas eólicas y placas solares. Este año, Nigeria tiene las puertas abiertas a inversores, empresas y profesionales para la exposición de energía alternativa de Nigeria. Con suerte, veremos empresas interesadas en el desarrollo de energía limpia local.

Con respecto a las turbinas eólicas, empresas con sede en Los Estados Unidos, Alemania, Dinamarca, España, e India instalan turbinas eólicas tanto en sus propios países como en otros. Debido a la alta tasa de desempleo de España, este país debe invertir más en la exportación de aerogeneradores y placas solares a los mercados abiertos en África, y debería anticiparse a otros países de la Unión Europea, especialmente a Alemania, que ya se ha recuperado de la crisis financiera mundial.

La actual administración de España junto con los países más ricos del mundo han reducido sus inversiones en energía limpia. Han dado dos pasos atrás en su intento para reducir la dependencia de la energía no renovable y de bajar el nivel del paro a escala nacional.

Si España hiciera más negocios con empresas o gobiernos del norte y oeste de África mediante la exportación de energía eólica y solar, crecerían económicamente. Tal vez habría menos jóvenes africanos saliendo de su país, y se evitaría que esas personas pasaran meses o años viajando a través de tierras hostiles para llegar a las vallas de Ceuta o Melilla.

La producción de energía limpia tendría un efecto doble en África. Primero, con más electricidad más industrias son posibles, especialmente en el desarrollo de nuevos centros urbanos, lo cual puede aliviar la congestión e inmundicia de mega-ciudades como Lagos o Luanda. El potencial de fabricar turbinas eólicas y placas solares en África se puede propagar de forma exponencial, y por lo tanto reducir la inmigración irregular. Aumentar las industrias africanas como la fabricación textil, los suministros médicos, la maquinaría y la agricultura son necesarios para la mano de obra local, por lo tanto, reduce la inmigración irregular.

Segundo, África puede modernizarse mientras tanto y mantener su posición como el continente que contribuye menos al calentamiento global.

Hay muchas batallas sociales y políticas por luchar, pero desafortunadamente la humanidad en su conjunto se está derrotando a sí misma con combustibles fósiles. No se puede separar la ecología de los problemas sociales o económicos.

Ahora más que nunca es nuestra responsabilidad sacar provecho de una tecnología tan vieja como utilizar la energía cinética del viento, y una tecnología tan nueva como la energía solar fotovoltaica para resolver los problemas del siglo XXI.

 

Por Opton A. Martin