10 Tips for buying new dream house – sticky

If you are looking to shift to a new house or want to renovate your existing one, the first thing you will need to think about is the painting. While it may be tempting to hire a professional to do it if you have never painted before, it will cost you a lot of money. Painting your own house allows you to experiment with something new and will help you save thousands of dollars.

Read more

XCMG helps Nigeria’s Dangote refinery get up to speed

A major oil refinery project in Nigeria, led by the Dangote Group, is nearing completion with the help of XCMG, a Chinese construction machinery manufacturer. The Dangote Refinery, located in Lagos, is the world’s largest single-train refinery and will be able to process 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day and produce 12,000 megawatts of electricity. It will also create over 135,000 jobs and reduce Nigeria’s reliance on oil imports.

XCMG equipment at the Dangote site. Source: Supplied

XCMG has supplied various types of equipment for the project, including excavators, cranes, and loaders. The equipment has been customised to adapt to the challenging environment of Lagos, which has high temperature, humidity, and dust levels. XCMG has also provided on-site service and support to ensure the smooth operation of the equipment.

“XCMG has supported numerous infrastructure projects in Africa, from the Dangote Refinery to the Nairobi Expressway. We hope to leverage our leading advantages of construction machinery technology and equipment to support infrastructure development and create greater values for economic development and people,” said Yang Dongsheng, CEO and chairman of XCMG.

Not enough to affect petrol price

Despite its historic production capacity, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) has said that the local production of premium motor spirit (PMS) by Dangote, Port Harcourt and other refineries will not affect the petrol pump price.

“There is a notion that if the product is processed locally, prices will reduce. Let me make it clear that it is not going to change anything. If you produce locally, the refineries will also input the cost of production and other things and it will be sold at the current price,” explained group CEO Mele Kyari.

“There will also be no subsidy when local production starts because there is no cash-to-back subsidy, this country no longer has the resources to continue with subsidy.”

A small toy figure and gold imitation are seen in front of the AngloGold Ashanti logo in this illustration taken November 2021. Source: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

Meanwhile Aradel Holdings MD and CEO, Adegbite Falade, has revealed that in less than 12 months, the company’s modular refinery would begin to refine PMS.

“Starting within less than 12 months, we are going to come on stream as the first privately owned modular refinery into the refinery of PMS and the domestication arrives within the domestic economy. Nigerians should expect a refinery that is going to be significantly larger in capacity,” said Falade at the company’s 30th anniversary and rebranding festivities in Lagos earlier this month.

Aradel Holdings was previously known as Niger Delta Exploration & Production Plc (NDEP), with the name change a “better reflection of the company’s long-term strategy of becoming Africa’s leading organisation in the delivery of sustainable energy solutions that support economic growth”.

Nigeria’s Tinubu approves new infrastructure fund to boost competitiveness

Nigeria’s President Bola Tinubu on Friday, 21 July, announced the creation of a new infrastructure fund, part of a series of measures to boost the economy and ease the inflationary impact of his decision to scrap an expensive petrol subsidy.

Bola Tinubu, president of Nigeria, at the New Global Financial Pact Summit. 2023. Source: Lewis Joly/Reuters

The new Infrastructure Support Fund (ISF) will help Nigeria’s 36 states revamp transportation, including upgrades of farm-to-market roads. It will also fund health, education, power and water projects, the president’s office said in a statement, without providing details of how it will be funded.

The fund “will improve economic competitiveness, create jobs and deliver economic prosperity for Nigerians”, spokesman Dele Alake said in the statement.

The announcement comes a day after a programme to distribute free grains and subsidised fertiliser was unveiled. It will be managed by the central bank.

Pressure to offer households relief

Tinubu has been under pressure to offer relief to households and small businesses after he scrapped a popular but expensive petrol subsidy that kept prices cheap for decades but cost the government $10bn last year, leading to wider deficits and driving up debt.

Labour unions in particular have criticised government’s ending of the fuel subsidy without measures to mitigate rising prices.

Source: Reuters.

In another measure to ease inflation, Nigeria also plans to freeze ₦790bn naira ($997.47m) of ₦1.9tn naira of federal revenue that had been due to be shared among its three tiers of government in June, Alake said.

Distributable revenue among the tiers of government almost tripled after the removal of the subsidy and a move to liberalise the exchange rate.

Inflation, which has been in double-digits since 2016, in June climbed further to 22.79%.

African Development Bank secures $32.8bn for projects in Africa

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has secured $32.8bn in investment commitments for projects in Africa, the bank’s president said at the closing of a meeting with investors on Thursday, 17 March.

Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group, attends a meeting of the 2020 African Economic Outlook report in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 30 January 2020. Reuters/Luc Gnago

The largest deal secured at the three-day Africa Investment Forum was $15.6bn for the Lagos-Abidjan mega highway, connecting West Africa’s two major cities in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, said AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina.

The highway of about 1,200km will have four to six lanes and should be completed in about six years, he said.

“Africa is a very bankable continent. We’ve gone through hard times because of the Covid-19 situation but here we are on a rebound,” said Adesina. “Africa is back for investments.”

Part of the Covid-19 response

The projects, part of the bank’s Covid-19 response, touch on sectors including agriculture and agro-processing, education, energy and climate, healthcare, minerals and mining, and information and communications technology.

Adesina said that on the health side, projects include a new medical city in Accra, a fund for health services for low-income populations in South Africa, and two platforms for manufacturing pharmaceutical products: one in West Africa and one in Kenya.

The forum was meant to be held late last year but was postponed due to a surge of Omicron coronavirus variant infections.

Know your business inside out with a Biz Office

New expectations of transparency and authenticity in business means things like organisational purpose, brand stories, how your company does things, what it believes in and what it stands for, can all play a part in how your company sees itself and how it is seen by others.

Being open, authentic and transparent about the organisation is the new norm

From global giant to startup, every company website has an About Us page. Revisiting this vital ‘About Us’ content can be a starting point in ensuring core company information and values remain relevant or the reevaluation of how they may have shifted due to changing market conditions since they were first written.

Why is vision important?

According to Forbes, “Employees who find their company’s vision to be meaningful have average engagement scores of 68%, while the average for those who don’t is down around 18% – a sizeable difference! Interact-intranet.com

Cleverism.com states: “By creating a vision statement, you are boosting the long-term success of the organization through better strategic planning. You define the values and the guiding objectives for the business, making it easier to plan future actions. But you are also improving the bottom line because you align the business’ processes with the vision and you inspire your employees and stakeholders to subscribe to your vision… get to the heart of what it is your business does”.

How a Biz Press Office can clarify vision inside and out

The “glass box” nature of a Biz Press Office offers a shop window, which effectively communicates corporate vision both internally and outwards to external prospects and stakeholders. These vision statements can be core to your company’s content strategy.

“About 70% of workers don’t understand company’s vision at all. Not only is this bad for engagement but if an employee doesn’t understand the company vision, they likely don’t understand specific goals either. This makes it nigh on impossible to align their work with overall strategy.” Interact-intranet.com

Bizcommunity’s multi-industry B2B environment provides front-page distribution for branded content ensuring the window on your organisation’s reputation stays polished and relevant, allowing it to embrace the new trends in business transparency and authenticity. Seven-day website front page, newsletter and mobile exposure across 19 industries in Africa is just the start of the journey for company news on Biz.

With a vision statement, you are saying, “this is where we want to be, this is what you deserve to create”. Cleverism.com

Your company thought leadership, opinion, white papers, branded content and event news distributed to our 490,000 readers, offer a vital window into the intellectual capital of our region for local, global and pan-African audiences.

Polish your company vision. Join over 400 top companies publishing in 19 industry sectors on Bizcommunity


Edmund Wessels, Anatoli Kirigwajjo win 2023 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

South Africa’s Edmund Wessels and Uganda’s Anatoli Kirigwajjo have jointly won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s 2023 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.

SA’s Edmund Wessels and Uganda’s Anatoli Kirigwajjo have jointly won the 2023 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Source: Supplied

Wessels wins with FlexiGyn, a battery-powered, portable handheld device that enables gynaecologists to diagnose and treat women’s uterine problems without anaesthetic or expensive equipment. It aims to increase women’s access to reproductive healthcare, particularly in remote areas.

“My cofounder Chris Meunier and I aim to bring healthcare to a woman’s doorstep, precisely when and where they need it. FlexiGyn is portable, intuitive and user-friendly, allowing gynaecologists to offer quality screenings and timely interventions regardless of the patient’s location or lack of medical infrastructure. At the same time, it is designed to minimise discomfort,” says Wessels.

“We are excited beyond belief to win the Africa Prize and know that this will help to get our name out and find the right partners to complete FlexiGyn’s journey.”

Yunga, providing security at low cost

Kirigwajjo wins with Yunga, a local digital security network that connects neighbours to each other and police within a 20km radius through a physical device, smartphone app or SMS service, providing security at low cost.

Nearly 1,000 households in 30 communities across central Uganda are already on the Yunga network, which has successfully prevented around 130 break-ins and related crimes. The team is aiming to connect 32,000 households across Uganda in the next two years.

“I developed Yunga after losing $1,300-worth of assets in a break-in, with little chance of the thieves being caught. We hope that with our household networks, communities will become harder targets for criminals. This will ensure safety, which in turn will create the space for economic activities to thrive,” says Kirigwajjo.

He and his co-founders, Kawesa Nasser and Kasoma Fredrick, say that winning the Africa Prize will give their business exposure in new markets across Africa.

Celebrating Africa's top 5 smart cities: Showcasing progress and prowess

Focus on women-led homes

“It will open the door to additional resources such as investments and stakeholder partnerships. The prize money will allow us to add more than 1,000 households to the Yunga network, with a focus on women-led homes, which are more vulnerable to crime in low-resource settings. This is an invaluable opportunity in our efforts to scale up,” adds Kirigwajjo.

Wessels and Kirigwajjo have each been awarded first prize for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, taking home £25,000 to further develop their products. Four finalists delivered pitches at the awards ceremony in Accra, Ghana, before a panel of judges chose the winners.

The two other finalists, who each receive £10,000, are:

  • Revive Kit, Chukwuemeka Eze, Nigeria – An e-mobility service that converts gas-powered three-wheel motorbikes to run on batteries, saving up to 60% on running costs.
  • Waga Pawa Pack, Gibson Kawago, Tanzania – A power pack made with recycled laptop batteries to provide reliable and affordable power for electric bikes, power banks, solar lights, businesses and homes.

One to Watch Prize

In addition to the Africa Prize, the remaining 11 innovators from the 2023 shortlist competed for the One to Watch Prize. They presented their innovations to a live audience who voted for the pitch that showed the most potential for impact.

Tolulope Olukokun was selected as the winner of the Africa Prize’s One-to-Watch Award of £5,000. His Olukokun innovation is an electric cargo bike with a battery-powered fridge to help Nigeria’s smallholder farmers get fresh food crops to market.

The profiles and pitch decks of the 15 engineers comprising the 2023 cohort can be viewed here.

The 2024 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is now open for entries. Individuals and small teams living and working in sub-Saharan Africa with a scalable engineering innovation to solve a local challenge are invited to enter. The deadline for entries is 25 July 2023 (4pm BST).

For more information, click here.

Why Nigeria’s electricity grid collapses and how to shore it up

The power outages, which prevent people from meeting routine business and household needs, result in huge economic and social costs. In sub-Saharan Africa, every 1% increase in power outages (in terms of hours) has been associated with a 2.86% decrease in gross domestic product (GDP). This translates to a loss of about $28bn in GDP.

There are also health risks from the emissions of inefficient petrol [generators], which are widely used in Nigeria. It is estimated that electricity generator sets consume $22bn worth of fuel yearly.

The grid collapsed twice in March 2022 within 48 hours. There are a number of factors to explain this situation and thus inform what needs to be done about it. They include insufficiently trained personnel, deficiency in local manufacturing, poor utility performance, theft of grid equipment, weather, gas supply, insufficient funding and the age of grid infrastructure.

What is the national electricity grid?

The Nigerian national electricity grid is a network of generation companies, distribution companies and the Transmission Company of Nigeria.

Private companies are allowed to generate and distribute electricity. The Federal Government of Nigeria is solely responsible for transmission of electricity generated by the generating company to the distribution companies at a standardised voltage of 330kV and 132kV.

Nigeria’s electricity generation mix is made up mostly of gas combined cycle plants followed by gas open cycle. At the lower end of the contribution scale are large hydropower plants and tiny portion from solar PV.

In one study, we found that without diversifying Nigeria’s electricity mix and improving efficiency, the current grid network would be unable to meet electricity demand for Nigeria’s growing population. Nigeria’s on-grid electricity demand is about 4-12 times the total electricity distributed on the grid.

The national grid is designed to function under controlled limits to ensure stable grid operations. Exceeding the limits leads to instability – and often leads to collapse.

The transmission company is supposed to allocate the load to the distribution companies based on demand information received from the National Control Centre. This ensures that there is no mismatch between power supply and demand to avoid national grid system collapse.

In some situations, the amount of electricity supplied to the grid is lower than the electricity demand. When this occurs, an automatic load shedding plan is activated. But if this fails, the generators switch off one after another until there is a complete collapse of the national grid.

In Nigeria, the system mismatch occurs frequently because demand is regularly beyond available power allocated to distribution companies at certain periods. This is in addition to the high transmission and distribution losses.

Although the transmission company often attempts to bring the mismatch under control, it doesn’t always succeed. In some instances, sensitive generating units trip as they cannot cope with additional loads. If cascaded tripping continues, the whole power grid eventually loses supply.

South Africa's approach to energy transition could be a lesson for Africa

Recent power generation problems

Between late February and March 2022, electricity generation in Nigeria has been erratic, and this was primarily due to low rainfall feeding Nigeria’s major hydropower plants. In the dry season (November to April), water levels are normally low.

Secondly, there is a shortage of gas supply to power thermal gas plants. This is due to gas pipeline vandals and supply chain issues. Also, there was a fire at Egbin power plant.

Other issues include maintenance work.

These collective shortcomings led to the low daily generation and supply of electricity (a decrease of about 13% in January 2022) to the grid.

Why is this happening more frequently?

The national grid requires significant upgrades.

Since 2018, load rejection by the distribution companies in Nigeria has been a problem. Load rejection occurs when the distribution companies reject electricity transmitted by the transmission companies. The rejection is partly due to the poor state of the transmission and distribution network and faulty power lines.

Another reason is non-payment by consumers. For example, consumers in communities hosting power generation plants perceive that they own the electricity generated in their locality.

In these situations, supply is being generated and transmitted but not distributed. To address this issue, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission in February 2021 released guidelines that would sanction distribution companies for load rejection and punish the transmission company for inability to wheel electricity. However, there were still cases of load rejections by the distribution companies in early 2022.

In summary, the grid collapse can be attributed to the following major factors:

  • low water levels at the hydropower plants, low gas supply at the gas power plants and fire at the largest power generating station,
  • load rejection and inability of the transmission companies to wheel electricity from generators to distributors,
  • archaic and weak national grid,
  • poor utility performance and theft/vandalisation of grid equipment,
  • insufficient funding to upgrade from analogue to a smart grid, and
  • extraordinary transmission and distribution losses (up to 18%, with an average above 8%) due to aged electricity infrastructure.
How Africa can ride the green wave and lift itself out of energy poverty

What can be done?

The first step is to optimally generate electricity.

To achieve this, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can upgrade and increase transformer capacity. The distribution companies recently improved the network and are willing to take up demand from consumers. This can reduce the issue of load rejections.

Second, a better revenue collection method is needed and there needs to be a wider distribution of prepaid meters.

Third, the Nigerian lawmakers recently supported the constitutional amendment bill to allow state governments to generate and transmit their own electricity. This presents an opportunity to investors and industries to participate in the Nigerian energy market. Also, the states or businesses can transmit excess supply to the national grid. Micro-grid projects could also expand to send excess power to the national grid.

Fourth, a modern smart grid would enable data to flow between consumers and electricity retailers. This will enable grid operators to match electricity supply with demand, understand consumer behaviour and plan grid expansion.

Finally, the Nigerian government should speed up efforts to decentralise the national grid. This can be through mini-grids driven by renewable energy sources like solar photovoltaic and wind turbines.

The effect would be increased local reliability of electric power supply, especially in the rural and peri-urban communities.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
The Conversation

How green roofs can contribute to people, profit and planet

Vacant rooftops across all major cities around the world are a dime a dozen. Their concrete surfaces aren’t just a waste of space in a highly urbanised world, but also contribute to the heat island effect that afflicts these built-up areas. So why not farm on them?

Brooklyn Grange Long Island City farm. Image source: Brooklyn Grange

Well, that’s exactly what the team from Brooklyn Grange did in 2010 on the roof of a building in Long Island City, New York – they took 45,000ft2 of vacant space and started a rooftop farming business. This initial venture, however, is not where their business model ends as it organically expanded into other areas that helped them achieve their triple bottom line of people, profit, and planet.

Cecilia de Corral, director: design/build at Brooklyn Grange, shared their journey at the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC) Annual Congress held in Cape Town last week and how turning vacant rooftop space into green spaces can have a positive financial, environmental and community impact for businesses.

Cecilia de Corral, director: design/build at Brooklyn Grange

Cecilia de Corral, director: design/build at Brooklyn Grange

Rooftop farming in New York City

Brooklyn Grange currently has three farms, the first in Long Island City, another in Brooklyn Navy Yard at 65,000ft2 which opened in 2012, and lastly the Sunset Park farm which opened this year at a massive 140,000ft2. Their expansion was supported by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, a city agency that funds 100% of green roof construction, barring any structural work needed on the buildings.

The three Brooklyn Grange rooftop farms make up a total of roughly 3.5 acres in cultivated area and can grow anything that a ground-level farm can grow, except fruiting trees which would require three times as much soil currently used. Their products are distributed to chefs and restaurants, retailers, and farmers’ markets.

“While our original business plan anticipated us earning a return by expanding to seven farms in five years,” explained De Corral, “we found that the value of our business wasn’t necessarily in the footprint or the square footage, but rather in the opportunities that were opened up to us through the farms.”

Brooklyn Grange products are distributed to chefs and restaurants, retailers, and farmers' markets. Image source: Brooklyn Grange

Brooklyn Grange products are distributed to chefs and restaurants, retailers, and farmers’ markets. Image source: Brooklyn Grange

Opportunity for events

Brooklyn Grange exceeded its original revenue projections at the five-year mark with just two farms by exploring the variety of opportunities opened up by its sustainable farming business. In an effort to engage more with the communities around its farms, it started using them as events venues hosting workshops, dinners, yoga classes, and weddings.

“Green spaces are offering solutions to us on an environmental level, but I think the piece of the puzzle that people typically disregard is the solutions on a human level – they’re satisfying this need that so many city dwellers have of connecting with plants, soil, and green space,” said De Corral.

Most of their visitors, up to 7000 annually, are at the Brooklyn Navy Yard farm, but their expansion to the publically accessible Sunset Park location this year is likely to drive a huge increase in this number. “Next year will be our first full year there. We’re going to be serving a huge audience and not just young, single people living in Brooklyn, these are going to be families.”

“We have over 3.5 acres of farmland that we work to farm. This is the heart and the roots of our business and it probably always will be. But that same cultivated space is what’s enabled this super successful events programme. The revenue from the events arm of the business is fuelling additional green space, it’s fuelling liveable wages for our farmers and access to our community,” explained De Corral.

In an effort to engage more with the communities around its farms, Brooklyn Grange started using them as events venues. Image source: Brooklyn Grange

In an effort to engage more with the communities around its farms, Brooklyn Grange started using them as events venues. Image source: Brooklyn Grange

Multipurpose, green spaces for all

The final arm, and largest revenue driver, of the business is its design/build department which, like its events arm, developed organically from its original intention of adding more green space to the city skyline. Visitors to the farms wanted the same for their vacant rooftop spaces and after a bit of experimentation, Brooklyn Grange now turns what were once cold, inhospitable spaces throughout New York City, into multipurpose, green spaces that serve as a haven for people and wildlife.

One such space is the green roof constructed for Vice Media in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the Brooklyn Grange team installed a system that replicated the natural ecosystem of the area prior to human development. The space attracts birds and bees in droves, addresses the company’s office overcrowding problem, enables a space for creative opportunities, and forges community-based relationships.

The design/build department is the largest revenue driver of the business. Image source: Brooklyn Grange

The design/build department is the largest revenue driver of the business. Image source: Brooklyn Grange

Green roofs also support a number of environmental benefits including reducing the amount of storm water reaching overburdened sewer systems, and lowering temperatures in cities by up to 4 degrees Celsius. De Corral used the Javits Convention Center in New York City as an example of how green roofs can serve the financial needs of a business while also ensuring positive environmental and community outputs.

Once notorious as one of the deadliest buildings for birds in New York, the Javits Convention Center in 2010 wrapped its entire building in bird-safe glass and built a seven-acre green roof. They decreased their energy consumption by 26% and their roof is now home to 29 different bird species. They’re now planning a 1.2-million square-foot expansion that will also feature a 25,000ft2 rooftop farm.

“Through this expansion, Javits is going to be feeding tens of thousands of visitors with vegetables that they grow on their own roof. They’re also offering an amazing amenities space and an indoor and outdoor events space, all while showcasing who they are as a business and what they’re prioritising,” said De Corral.

Green roofs improve the urban environment - so why don't all buildings have them?

Coming soon to a city near you

Brooklyn Grange, as a business, has been a passionate advocate of the Climate Mobilization Act that was recently passed in New York City, and De Corral emphasised in rounding up her presentation that the community of New York City is just as passionate about taking action on climate change.

“This is not a movement that’s limited to New York, it’s happening all over the world,” she said.

“If you’re not already seeing some sort of mobilisation here, you will, and so you should be looking at your roofs now and what they can offer to you for financial, community and environmental growth,” De Corral concluded.

Renewable energy continued to grow, gain momentum in 2021

The International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) released new data last month showing that by the end of 2021, global renewable generation capacity amounted to 3,064GW, increasing the stock of renewable power by 9.1%. This growth and momentum continued despite global uncertainties.

Source: Gallo/Getty

Although hydropower accounted for the largest share of the global total renewable generation capacity with 1,230GW, Irena’s Renewable Capacity Statistics 2022 shows that solar and wind continued to dominate new generating capacity. Together, both technologies contributed 88% to the share of all new renewable capacity in 2021. Solar capacity led with a 19% increase, followed by wind energy, which increased its generating capacity by 13%.

‘Energy transition is far from being fast’

“This continued progress is another testament of renewable energy’s resilience. Its strong performance last year represents more opportunities for countries to reap renewables’ multiple socioeconomic benefits. However, despite the encouraging global trend, our new World Energy Transitions Outlook shows that the energy transition is far from being fast or widespread enough to avert the dire consequences of climate change,” says Irena director-general Francesco La Camera.

“Our current energy crisis also adds to the evidence that the world can no longer rely on fossil fuels to meet its energy demand. Money directed to fossil fuel power plants yields unrewarding results, both for the survival of a nation and the planet. Renewable power should become the norm across the globe. We must mobilise the political will to accelerate the 1.5°C pathway.”

To achieve climate goals, renewables must grow at a faster pace than energy demand. However, many countries have not reached this point yet, despite significantly increasing the use of renewables for electricity generation.


SA's green transition to cost over $64bn by 2030

Asia leads in new capacity

In 2021, 60% of the new capacity was added in Asia, resulting in a total of 1.46TW of renewable capacity by 2021. China was the biggest contributor, adding 121GW to the continent’s new capacity. Europe and North America, led by the USA, took second and third places respectively, with the former adding 39GW, and the latter 38GW. Renewable energy capacity grew by 3.9% in Africa and 3.3% in Central America and the Caribbean. Despite representing steady growth, the pace in both regions is much slower than the global average, indicating the need for stronger international cooperation to optimise electricity markets and drive massive investments in those regions.


Malawi solar mini-grid shows promise as way of electrifying rural Africa

Highlights by technology:

  • Hydropower: Growth in hydro increased steadily in 2021 with the commissioning of several large projects delayed through 2021.
  • Wind energy: Wind expansion continued at a lower rate in 2021 compared to 2020 (+93GW compared to +111GW last year).
  • Solar energy: With an increase in new capacity in all major world regions in previous years, total global solar capacity has now outgrown wind energy capacity.
  • Bioenergy: Net capacity expansion increased in 2021 (+10.3GW compared to +9.1GW in 2020).
  • Geothermal energy: Geothermal capacity had an exceptional growth in 2021, with 1.6GW added.
  • Off-grid electricity: Off-grid capacity grew by 466MW in 2021 (+4%) to reach 11.2GW.

Read the full Renewable Capacity Statistics 2022, including the highlights, here.

Upward trend in African mixed-use developments presents challenges, opportunities

From the Cape’s Harbour Arch to Cairo’s The Gate, mixed-use projects in Africa are revitalising urban nodes and mirroring the international upward trend of creating multifunctional precincts in urban areas. However, while there is a huge opportunity in developing mixed-use facilities in specific African regions, these projects are not without challenges and need to be correctly approached to maximise benefits.

Tim White, CEO of Profica

We’re seeing urban renewal redevelopment taking place in cities, where old buildings are demolished to be replaced by new mixed-use developments. There is an increased need for effective use of space in both city centres, and property developers are responding.

Mixed-use developments offer the ability to live, work and play in close proximity within a secure precinct, providing a range of amenities while minimising travel time and expense. In an ideal scenario, these pedestrianised precincts can offer safety and security, convenience, sustainable technologies, connectivity and increasingly, green nodes in an urban setting.

Profica specialises in project management on projects throughout Africa and is also involved in the early-stage conceptualisation and pre-development planning on these types of projects. Our team has gained learnings from multiple projects across Africa, including the award-winning project management of Mutual Place in the heart of Sandton, a large super basement integrating five multipurpose buildings.

Mutual Place

Mutual Place

Challenge in bringing mixed-use developments on stream

From a developers perspective, for mixed-use developments, the challenge lies in bringing a mix of residential, retail, and office buyers and tenants on stream at a particular time, which doesn’t necessarily coincide with the cyclical demand for these sectors in the property cycle. With African economies struggling, the biggest concerns developers have about mixed-use precincts is securing and keeping tenants at the right time.

Large ‘ego’ projects which make limited financial sense can take a long time to reach success, for example, Eko Atlantic in Nigeria and some of the high-rise towers in Nairobi, as they don’t follow the property investment fundamentals. We must understand the objectives, purpose and functionality of mixed-use precincts and how they actually work. Of course, our clients and investors require their developments to be financially viable and they need to be planned with return on investment in mind.

Local government, the private sector, economic development agencies, the community, multiple development teams and possibly multiple owners must collaborate to address planning, management, capital resources and risk.

Effectively financing a multi-phased mixed-use project, addressing environmental, transportation and infrastructure issues and having a clear insight into the expected market demand for a mixed-use development are some of the challenges that must be tackled in a collaborative master plan.

Large cost of infrastructure

Too often, large mixed-use precincts have failed during the first phase, due to the large cost of infrastructure required in phase one to enable the developments going forward. We recommend that one master plan coordinates a number of different developments, each of which can develop according to demand. So it’s about planning for a final product – an integrated mixed-use development – but also one which can be constructed in various stages at different times and still provide a good environment for the users during development.

While challenging, designing, owning, or managing a mixed-use facility opens the door to multiple opportunities. Mixed-use facilities not only conserve valuable land resources, but also present opportunities for building efficiency, energy efficiency, and sustainability. As space is used 24 hours a day, developers and owners can make it work harder in terms of returns and also find ways to be more energy efficient in the long term, sharing services, parking, and other amenities on a countercyclical basis.

However, while sustainable and green efforts are increasingly important to owners as improved energy efficiency can save on costs, they also assess whether the financial return on investment is worth it when choosing systems and materials. Going green requires a very big shift from first-cost thinking, to life-cycle cost thinking.

As Profica works on more mixed-use projects, different approaches to the fundamentals of space sharing and optimisation are emerging. Parking, for example, provides real opportunities to save space when managed carefully. We’re seeing shared countercyclical parking provided for office use during the day, residential at night. Creative ways to manage challenges such as waste, smells, traffic, and noise transferring from one use of the building, such as a busy restaurant or shop, to residential areas are also being found.

Future-proofing developments

The importance of future-proofing developments is key, allowing for changes of use in the future. For example, with more efficient public transport coming online in Sandton, the large basement parking areas in some of the corporate office building will not be fully utilised. These areas, if planned for, can then be used later for ‘last mile’ logistics in congested city centres or if the parking areas are above ground, it’s worth making the height between floors higher so that the areas can be converted to commercial space later on.

It’s also not just about the mix of uses, but within each use, there are specific variances that need to be considered. For example, residential units for rental in city centres are designed with rental affordability in mind, essentially a different product from owner-occupied units which are longer-term. These nuances all affect how the mixed-use developments integrate and provide amenities for the different residents and visitors.

Overall, mixed-use developments are very positive and, if carefully managed from the outset, provide major returns on investment. Enabling people to live, work and play in a well-designed precinct fundamentally transforms lifestyles and we expect the trend to continue across Africa.

Success of a mixed-use development depends on the following factors:

Financing – Because a mixed-use development generally requires phased-in development periods, it may be difficult to finance compared to a single-use project of a similar size due to the various asset classes included in one development. The type of tenants and the strength or covenant of these tenants will have an effect on the funding parameters.

Market demand – For a project to be a success, it must attract a significant level of market demand in its own right. Market analysis to assess the supply and demand for proposed multiple uses is critical. Typically different sectors have varying rental strengths and vacancies from each other and are at different points in the property cycle at any given time.

Effective design and project management – Developing a master plan for a mixed-use development is critical to the financial success of a project. It must allow for phasing and not encumber the first phase with too much enablement and infrastructure cost.

Public and political support – Community members and key stakeholders need to be engaged early in the project. Development plans need to highlight infrastructure and transportation use, the economic benefits of the project to the community, regulatory challenges, conformance to zoning codes and availability of developer incentives. Don’t underestimate the impact the neighbours and local residents can have on the delivery of such projects.

Site location, size and topography – Site access, connectivity to other land uses, access to multiple modes of transportation, and vehicle and pedestrian circulation systems are some of the critical factors for project success.

Osmotic Engineering Group director receives Fidic 2022 Future Leaders Award

Dr Tony Igboamalu, water and wastewater infrastructure director at Osmotic Engineering Group (OEG), was announced the winner of the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (Fidic) 2022 Future Leaders Award at a gala dinner last month in Geneva.

L-R: Andrew Johnson, Dr Tony Igboamalu, Aldecia Johnson, Dr Frank Igboamalu and Ronnie Khoza, Osmotic Engineering Group

The awards acknowledge and promote the outstanding achievements of future leaders in the consulting engineering industry globally. Adam Bialachowski, chair of the judging panel and also chair of the Fidic Future Leaders Advisory Council, says the judges were unanimous in their decision.

“Dr Tony Igboamalu has shown a high level of achievement and a keen appreciation of the social impact of his work, which perfectly reflects Fidic’s key values and the positive difference that engineering seeks to make in society,” said Bialachowski.

Igboamalu is a professional chemical engineer who obtained a Global Excellence Stature (GES) 4.0 Research Fellowship in 2022 at the University of Johannesburg looking at the application of 4IR in solving water challenges.

With 15 years’ experience in the water industry, he implements and manages multidisciplinary rural and urban development and poverty alleviation projects, including team, technical, financial (3P) and contracts management. His main focus is on socioeconomic development, maintenance management and privatisation, training, application and transfer of appropriate technology and skills.

#StartupStory: Osmotic Engineering Group on driving infrastructure development in Africa

Multidisciplinary approach

“Emerging market problems are not just about engineering but have a socioeconomic basis as well. Solving these myriad problems requires a multidisciplinary approach combining finance, economics and politics. Engineers need to be open-minded. OEG represents the future of Africa in that we are driving the development of our future engineers,” said Igboamalu.

Since its initial foray into South Africa and Nigeria, OEG has opened new offices in Ghana, Uganda and Kenya. Its local office meanwhile covers the entire Southern African region, including Botswana and Namibia.