The World’s Greatest Challenge and yet The World’s Greatest Opportunity

Alex Laskey, the Founder of “O” Power based in the US during a presentation at TED Global said during a survey on how to get households to lower their energy consumption, he and his team tried to persuade the target group by trying to tell them that it reduces their bill and therefore saves money or they explain to them how it all saves the environment. Of which nothing of those approaches worked. But when they got to tell them that they were using more electricity than their neighbors, that triggered immediate response and considerable savings. One hundred and twenty households in Bath, U.K., had their energy consumption monitored over a 9-month period. Participants with the exception of the control group, received feedback in various forms, i.e. consumption compared to previous consumption or to similar others; energy saving tips in leaflets or on a computer; or feedback relating to financial or environmental costs.

typical luxury bedroom with windows open and lights on.Respondents were interviewed after the start of the study to establish their income, socio-demographic status, environmental attitudes and the extent to which they already engaged in conserving activities. Overall the results indicated that income and demographic features predicted historic energy consumption reduction but not changes in consumption during the field study, where environmental attitudes and feedback were influential. Of all the feedback groups, the installation of computers helped reduce consumption most markedly. So the question is what is it that causes people to want to save Energy? Most definitely, what influences behavior across nationalities and communities vary and there is no universal formula for the eradication of energy inefficiency. But one thing is for sure that has been proven world-over is that the war against energy inefficiency is if it is brought down to the household level. Whatever principle or culture that finds its roots in a family structure is observed to be the pre-dominant things at all levels as we rise to a national scale. In a report by Eng. F. Masawi on the Zimbabwean Situation on Energy Efficiency, he outlined how Zimbabwe could unlock an estimated 1000MW through the practice of energy efficiency alone. In December 2012 it was reported by the Ministry of Energy and Power Development that the contract to extend the Kariba South Power station had been signed which means more turbines being built that would generate 300MW for a cost of US$400 million. This expansion will take us 4years to complete, which I do admire but if that amount of money also could go towards monitoring and implementation of Energy Efficiency, we as a nation would benefit greatly. One of my supervisors whilst doing my Undergrad, Mr. E. Kapfuchira once told me that Energy Management is very difficult (not impossible) to sell because it’s a concept, depending on who you are dealing with, may work or fail. Hence the resistance from the people not to fully committing to its implementation, because as they say, “it’s a theory”. The energy policy enacted last year had a lot to say about Energy Efficiency but implementation appears to be the main reason why the benefits have not been realized and the country is in an energy crisis. There are gaps in the strategies due to the absence of time bound targets and no budgets while most of the accountabilities are only with the Government, the Minister of Energy and Power Development and ZERA. Where i come you will realize that the general population operate at the most lowest efficiencies and yet they have the scarcest access to electricity. Although it seems North Africa is doing fairly well compared to the rest, this is because they have managed to provide electricity to 99.3% of the urban population and 79.9% of the rural population. Whilst particularly Sub-Saharan Africa has managed to provide 51.3% of the urban population and 7.5% of the rural population with electricity that happens to be inconsistent at all. Zimbabwe which has almost the same population with Zambia and a more vibrant economy is consuming 4.86billion kWh. This is a great indicator for the Zimbabwean Government that there is need for immediate implementation of the National Energy Policy to address this discrepancy. They should also emulate the Bostwana Gvt on its policy that encourages the use of Natural Gas as an alternative source of energy and this move alone has greatly reduced the electricity of Botswana to 2.85 billion kWh a year and more work has to be done. The key challenge facing Africa is not to increase energy consumption per se, but to ensure access to cleaner energy services, preferably through energy efficiency and renewable energy thus promoting sustainable consumption. Unlike most industrialized countries which progressed from traditional energy to unsustainable conventional energy consumption patterns and which are now struggling to move to a sustainable energy path, Africa could, in a number of sectors, leapfrog directly from current traditional energy consumption patterns to sustainable energy options. Consequently, the careful examination of energy consumption patterns and trends in Africa should be of interest to the sustainable development community. According to a survey that I have been conducting, the greatest energy consumer in Africa has been the cooking practice and this greatly attributed to the fact that the devices used are so inefficient and people do not pay attention to their consumption whatsoever. So if you know many investors out there, be sure to tell them that Zimbabwe is the next big thing. With the frequent occurrence of power cuts, the situation has even grown worse and has led to the eradication of trees at unprecedented rates. The next feature will be on this case, the use of wood fuel and related economic, health and social impacts.

 

four-women-carrying-firewood

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Is the problem Deforestation or the lack of Afforestation?

If one is to take a tour of a part of Manicaland Province and see the vast, dense, thick forests there and then listen to the news in regards to the levels of deforestation everywhere else. You will be left to wonder. Which brought out the question that has been the driving force of my thoughts, The challenge we have as Zimbabweans is it that of increased Deforestation or the lack of Afforestation? This is because if the consumption of trees per year is estimated to be 60million trees and yet the planting/replenishing rate is as low as 10million, this sounds the horn of a crisis looming. A Chinese says, “We do not inherit the earth from our fathers but we borrow it from our children”. This means whatever action we do here today has a deterministic effect on the future generations.

The reason for the destruction of forests can be attributed to the following:

  • Demand for wood fuel for cooking;
  • Land clearance for farming activities;
  • Wood fuel for curing tobacco;
  • The continuous demand of furniture e.g. coffins.

I would like to know how its like in your country in terms of how people are being mobilized to grow trees.