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20-30m hectares of land needed in Nigeria to meet forest cover

The Director General of Forest Research Institute of Nigeria, Dr Adeshola Adepoju, said for Nigeria to get the required forest cover as recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), it needs about 20 to 30 million hectares of land for tree planting.

Dr Adepoju who spoke to journalists on the sideline during the National Consultation of Partners of the Nigerian Forest Investment Programme, recently in Abuja, said Nigeria has five per cent forest cover and required 20 per cent more to be comfortable.

Speaking on actions taken to address the issue, Adepoju said previously four million trees were planted and that with the present government, over two million seedlings have also been planted.

“Before this administration came in, four million trees were planted within the nation’s five per cent cover but going by the green bond arrangement by this administration, over two million seedlings were planted in 843.6 hectares of land,” he said.

While urging relevant stakeholders in the forest sector to invest in forest plantation to enable the country to achieve 25 per cent forest cover, he said the National Forestry Trust Fund will be expended in best practices.

According to him, the workshop was important to enable stakeholders to come up with a robust policy on forest investment, which will also enhance the implementation of the National Forest Investment Plan.

Speaking, the Director of Environment and Natural Resources at the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr Johnson Boanuh, said the rate of forest degradation is accelerating in the face of climate change, adding that, “This is affecting the region in various ways while evidences abound in weak cooperation between the states in shared and trans-boundary forest resources management.”

He said forest degradation and deforestation in West African Region are undoubtedly the root causes of forest ecosystems depletion, which is said to have the highest deforestation rate per hectare in the world.

Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund delivers 22.2% return in 2018

Investors who parked their cash in the Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund (NIDF), managed by Lagos-based investment bank, Chapel Hill Denham, just saw off a 2018 to remember for good.

In a year when investors were hurt by negative returns on several asset classes from equities to mutual funds, the NIDF returned 22 percent, which is probably the best performing asset class for the year.

The NIFD’s return is some 700 basis points above the risk-free rate of 15 percent and betters the stock market’s negative 17 percent return.

Since inception in June 2017, the Fund has delivered a total return of 42 percent (assuming distributions were reinvested), as investors continue to enjoy consistent, attractive and predictable real returns real returns (above inflation), along with low volatility and principal preservation.

Despite being considerably riskier, equities haven’t matched that return in the period under review.

Besides delivering attractive returns, the NIDF is also at the core of Nigeria’s economic transformation by adding to the country’s infrastructure stock, channelling institutional capital into productive assets, and supporting sustainable economic growth. This makes the Fund an impact investor’s delight.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, the weighted average interest rate for the Fund’s portfolio of infrastructure loans was 19.3 percent, which is 470 basis points premium to the prevailing average yield on the 10-year Federal Government bond.

The Fund announced a quarterly distribution of N4.20 per Unit for the fourth quarter of 2018, the sixth consecutive quarterly distribution.

With this quarterly distribution, the total cash distributions made by the Fund in the year ending December 2018 aggregated to N16.70 per Unit. This translates to a full year cash yield of 17.8 percent.

Qualification date for the Q4 2018 distribution is on January 2, 2019 and payment date will be on January 4, 2019.

The Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund is the first and only infrastructure debt fund dedicated to and domiciled in Nigeria.

The Fund is an Infrastructure Fund under the rules and regulations of the Securities & Exchange Commission, Nigeria and the National Pension Commission, Nigeria.

The Fund’s Units are listed on the FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, Nigeria.

The Fund has registered a programme for issuance of up to two billion Units with par value of N200 billion.

Source: Lolade Akinmurele

 

What is green concrete?

Geopolymer concrete, or green concrete, is part of a movement to create construction materials that have a reduced impact on the environment. It is made from a combination of an inorganic polymer and 25 to 100 percent industrial waste. Here is a list of 4 benefits to using green concrete for your next project.

1. Lasts Longer: Green concrete gains strength faster and has a lower rate of shrinkage than concrete made only from Portland Cement. Structures built using green concrete have a better chance of surviving a fire (it can withstand temperatures of up to 2400 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale). It also has a greater resistance to corrosion which is important with the effect pollution has had on the environment (acid rain greatly reduces the longevity of traditional building materials).

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All of those factors add up to a building that will last much longer than one made with ordinary concrete. Similar concrete mixtures have been found in ancient Roman structures and this material was also used in the Ukraine in the 1950s and 1960s. Over 40 years later those Ukrainian buildings are still standing. If buildings aren’t constantly having to be rebuilt, fewer construction materials are needed and the impact to the environment during the process of making those materials is reduced.

2. Uses Industrial Waste: Instead of a 100 percent Portland cement mixture, green concrete uses anywhere from 25 to 100 percent fly ash. Fly ash is a byproduct of coal combustion and is gathered from the chimneys of industrial plants (such as power plants) that use coal as a power source. There are copious amounts of this industrial waste product. Hundreds of thousands of acres of land are used to dispose of fly ash. A large increase in the use of green concrete in construction will provide a way to use up fly ash and hopefully free many acres of land.

3. Reduces Energy Consumption: If you use less Portland cement and more fly ash when mixing concrete, then you will use less energy. The materials that are used in Portland cement require huge amounts of coal or natural gas to heat it up to the appropriate temperature to turn them into Portland cement. Fly ash already exists as a byproduct of another industrial process so you are not expending much more energy to use it to create green concrete.
Another way that green concrete reduces energy consumption is that a building constructed from it is more resistant to temperature changes. An architect can use this and design a green concrete building to use energy for heating and cooling more efficiently.

4. Reduces CO2 Emissions: In order to make Portland cement–one of the main ingredients in ordinary cement–pulverized limestone, clay, and sand are heated to 1450 degrees C using natural gas or coal as a fuel. This process is responsible for 5 to 8 percent of all carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions worldwide. The manufacturing of green concrete releases has up to 80 percent fewer CO2 emissions. As a part of a global effort to reduce emissions, switching over completely to using green concrete for construction will help considerably.

 

We are ready to address the housing needs of all Nigerians~FHA MD

The Managing Director of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), Muhammad Al- Amin, in the concluding part of this interview granted Daily Trust recently sheds lights on what the FHA is doing to address housing challenges in  the country.

How are you working to close the widening gap between the rich and the poor in terms of housing ownership?

Our programs tally towards addressing the Global Urban Agenda that is inclusiveness in housing. While you target to get houses for the rich people, you also target for the poor people, the middle income earners as well as the middle urban income earners. To achieve this, the Federal Government came up with some programs.

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For instance, the project for the high income earners was given to FHA to do under its commercial housing and private developers were encouraged to come into that venture.

Then the issue of staff housing, the Federal Government brought out the National Housing Program which is being piloted by our supervisory ministry and it is to target the middle income earners (Federal government and state government staff). Government brought about the Federal Integrated Staff Housing Programme (FISH) so that the staff of government could be accommodated. Then for other Nigerians particularly those that migrated from Rural to Urban areas, the Mass Housing Program was introduced and anchored by FHA.

This is the vision of the president that every category of Nigerians must have a program of housing that will address his own needs and we designed our programs in the FHA in line with that. We have the commercial projects and the social programs that we are doing and in-between them, we have some partnerships that would bring in investors to help us handle the other aspects.

What are some of the projects you have started and completed?

We first strive to finish the projects that we met on ground because government is continuity. First, is the Apo- Guzape partnership project, which we inherited about 15 percent completed. We quickly looked at the documents and agreement and realized that there were no end lines particularly for completion. So, what we did was to divide the project into 3 phases and by the first quarter of 2019 we are completing the first phase and then move into the other phase.

Apart from that there are projects that have to do with urban- poor which started the pilot projects in Zuba, Kwali and Lugbe and all this projects are targeting the low income earners. In the FCT we designed a commercial housing project that is called Nigerian- Diaspora Housing Program. We designed it for two reasons, first there must be befitting accommodation for those that can afford it in the country and secondly, we are targeting the diasporans because of numerous complaints and problems they encounter when they come back home trying to acquire properties.

The Diaspora Housing City of FHA in Abuja is just like a miniature of what you see in Dubai and we have over 60,000 off takers. The only thing holding us is the international law governing remittances of money. We have designed a system between FHA and the central bank which we can collect money from other countries without it being linked to terrorist financing. We must collect money that is pure not product of any criminality and as soon as we do that we will go ahead and collect the money and assign houses to interested off takers.

There has been complaints of poor infrastructures particularly roads in most FHA houses despite huge allocation of funds to the FHA. Why is it so?

I would have to correct this question because first of all there has not been any allocation of funds for infrastructures in FHA estates. What FHA does is to have a complete project and finance it either by itself or by partners or through government intervention. I agree that there are dilapidating infrastructures in our estates but that was before. When I came on board, we realized this and first thing we did was to take stock of these infrastructures. When we had that statistic we now decided to establish another arm of FHA called FHA Facilty Management Company to help us maintain our estates to its standard.

It is also important to mention that we have different categories of estates, the type of infrastructures that you expect in commercial housing project for the highbrow is not what you will get in the social housing project and there were some major mistakes that happened in the previous years. In most of these housing projects, the issue of infrastructure was not a priority, the priority then was just how many units for housing project to be built.

Lugbe Housing Estates was a National Housing Program under Lateef Jakande and the priority was never on the roads or other infrastructures. It was later on FHA decided to partner with with the residents to charge some resources from them that was called Capital Development Labour in order to augment what has so that we will have all these roads done to standard.

Challenges mount for mortgage lenders as shutdown persists

WASHINGTON — Although the partial government shutdown has not yet been long enough to significantly hamper the mortgage market, lenders and borrowers may already be feeling the strain.

The Federal Housing Administration has continued to process government-backed loans during the shutdown, but with the mortgage insurance agency operating with just a fraction of its work force, industry watchers expect a backlog in FHA endorsements that could extend beyond when the government reopens.

And while the FHA is endorsing loans, it has halted assisting financial institutions in underwriting them. This may not affect larger lenders that use the agency’s automated underwriting system, but smaller institutions may temporarily need to adjust their underwriting process or wait for the FHA to be back at full speed.

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Meanwhile, the processing of both government-insured and conventional loans is likely being affected by reduced operations at the Internal Revenue Service. Some lenders may be wary of closing loans without IRS documentation known as Form 4506-T, which provides official income verification and tax return transcripts. The form is unavailable with the government partially closed.

“It makes lending more difficult, especially in light of we are in the post-bubble-crash era where the income documentation is more thoroughly reviewed,” said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors.

The FHA is under the umbrella of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, one of nine cabinet-level agencies currently without funding. Official details on how the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, has affected the housing market are unavailable. But HUD has warned of an increasingly negative impact on homebuyers and the market as a whole with each day that the shutdown continues.

“A protracted shutdown could see a decline in home sales, reversing the trend toward a strengthening market that we’ve been experiencing,” the department wrote in its contingency plan for a possible lapse in appropriations for 2018. (HUD’s website has not been updated since the shutdown began.)

In HUD’s Office of Housing, which includes FHA, there are 2,386 employees. Yet only 103 employees of those employees are working during the shutdown, and up to 300 employees on any given day can be called to work on projects that are exempted from the shutdown on an intermittent basis.

Although most industry professionals believe that the impact to the housing market thus far has been limited, they said lenders and borrowers may be feeling an effect, particularly prospective home buyers with government jobs.

“Buying a home is a major expenditure, so people need to be assured that their job is secured and that the long-term direction of the economy is moving in the right direction,” said Yun. “The broader consumer will just sense that there is more uncertainty related to the economic activity going into the future, and if that is the case, that can hold back the consumer-buyer confidence about home buying.”

 

Due to the limited IRS activity, borrowers working in gig-economy jobs or who own small businesses will have an especially difficult time processing a home loan during the shutdown, since they must often jump through additional hoops to verify income.

“Self-employed borrowers have more complicated tax returns where you might want to see the full transcript to make sure the tax return you’re looking at is one that’s actually filed with the IRS,” said Pete Mills, a senior vice president at the Mortgage Bankers Association. “The more complicated the tax return, the more likely you’re going to want to see the transcript.”

But some lenders might be more inclined to forgo an IRS transcript in the short term or postpone verifications until the government reopens, said Brian Chappelle, a partner at Potomac Partners and former FHA official.

“I think lenders are pretty comfortable that from all the other documentation that they got from the borrower on their income and their credit and all the other things, that they don’t feel that’s much of a risk to close a conventional loan without the 4506 in light of the other documentation,” he said.

Although if the shutdown stretches on and lenders are forced to rely on supplemental income verification for more borrowers, some could change course, said Mills.

“I think in the last week of the year over the holidays, the impact is relatively muted, but now we’re in January and if this persists and the backlog continues, I do think the willingness to take that extra measure of risk will start to perhaps dissipate a little bit,” he said.

Lenders that originate FHA loans but sell them to a third party may also have trouble selling a loan without the IRS documentation.

“In many cases the aggregators want to see not only the signed form, but the actual transcripts themselves, and they’re not being processed so those loans get delayed,” said Mills.

Although the FHA can endorse new single-family loans during the shutdown, many of the agency’s employees are furloughed and spread thin, which industry professionals say will create a backlog of loans waiting to be processed when the government reopens.

“One has to sense that the longer the shutdown, the existing people that are working there are stretched and hence they cannot handle all the backlog that might be accumulating,” said Yun.

But Mills said unless the shutdown continues for a longer-than-expected period of time, the impact will be marginal.

“There will be a backlog but I don’t think it will be dramatic, but if we go on for a month, that could get significant,” he said.

Chappelle said the FHA’s automated underwriting system does give the HUD agency an advantage over other government mortgage lending programs affected by the shutdown, such as the one run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Since now lenders process and underwrite the loans themselves and can obtain electronic endorsement themselves, everything is done without any HUD involvement,” he said.

And because borrowers can still obtain loans backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Department of Veterans Affairs— which is fully funded during the partial shutdown — the overall effect on the housing market could be negligible, said Chappelle.

The market is further helped by the seasonal pattern of home sales, which are considerably lower in January compared to the rest of the year.

Lenders who think outside the box stand to win marketshare in in today’s market.

“There will be some backlog as well as some little initial rush of activity once the shutdown finishes but the actual number of homes sales that will be delayed, I think those will be very miniscule of a number,” said Yun.

For now, observers remain cautiously optimistic that the shutdown will not last so long as to have dramatic consequences for the mortgage sector.

“It’d have to go on for a protracted period of time to have any effect,” said Chappelle.

Source: Hannah Lang

How African cities can harness green technologies for growth and jobs

In 1967 one gigabyte of hard drive storage space cost US$ 1m. Today it’s around two US cents. Computer processing power has also increased exponentially: it doubles every two years. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technological progress in the 21st century.

There have also been tremendous advances in communication technology; robotics; nanotechnology; genetics and artificial intelligence, among other things. This merging of digital, physical and biological worlds has come to be known as the “fourth industrial revolution”.

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So far, relatively little attention has been paid to the overwhelming potential of the fourth industrial revolution to catalyse much needed transitions to a more sustainable society – particularly in the developing world.

This is slowly starting to shift. The World Economic Forum recently published a set of briefs as part of its “Shaping the Future of Environment and Natural Resource Security System Initiative”. These documents have begun to address some key questions around the potential role of the fourth industrial revolution in supporting a sustainable development agenda.

There are many compelling reasons for combining the offerings of the fourth industrial revolution with new green technologies, infrastructures and systems to tackle the developing world’s challenges. Multiple benefits can be realised through introducing these offerings in new, innovative ways that are customised for local contexts.

These green technologies can generate employment, ease pressure on infrastructure in rapidly growing cities and lower energy costs, especially for poorer households.

Chance for change

Unplanned slums and informal settlements present systemic problems in most developing world cities. This is particularly the case in both large, established and smaller, emerging African cities. Municipalities are under strain. They simply don’t have enough bulk infrastructure – water, sanitation, electricity and waste management facilities – to cater for growing populations.

The value of green technologies and systems is that they are largely decentralised or semi-decentralised. Examples include solar panels, energy saving devices, and small-scale wind and hydro energy technologies. These don’t require major infrastructure investment. And their decentralised nature enables them to keep up with cities as they change.

The introduction of green technology solutions and systems can also bring down household costs. Between 50 and 70% of poor African households’ budgets are spent on food, water, energy and transport. This makes them vulnerable to external shocks such as sharp rises in the costs of electricity, oil and petroleum, food and water.

These factors are also interlinked: for example, if oil prices rise, so do the costs of transport and food. That places extra pressure on already struggling households.

Green technologies can buffer poor households from these shocks by decoupling them from their dependence on local grids and provincial, national or global supply systems.

That’s at a household level. Then there’s the bigger picture. Absorbing green and sustainable technologies can help seed small to medium enterprises on a large scale and increase their investment appeal.

This, in turn, can drive economic growth and get cash circulating at the levels where it’s most needed.

Introducing new technologies to a city is a great job creator. People are needed to install solar panels, solar water heaters, biogas digesters, energy savings devices; or to set up urban agriculture and permaculture operations. There are already examples of this in several African cities.

Unlocking opportunities

And, perhaps the biggest boon of them all: the fourth industrial revolution presents a massive opportunity to leapfrog African countries’ productive economies into a wholly new space.

Economic diversification and development on the continent could benefit considerably from harnessing the opportunities emerging in the green technology and fourth industrial revolution spaces. This will shift them onto a significantly new economic growth and developmental trajectory. It will also go a long way towards ensuring that as emerging economies develop, they will do so in a manner that doesn’t exacerbate climate change and environmental degradation.

A number of African countries are already positioning themselves to harness this opportunity. Both Rwanda and Ethiopia, for example, have placed green economic development and sustainability at the heart of their national economic development strategies and plans. More recently, Kenya has committed to actualising a 100% transition to green energy by 2020.

Other African countries would do well to follow these nations’ examples. The fourth industrial revolution is here. Combining it with green technology is a way for the continent to benefit at all levels.

Building collapse: Practitioners turn to brick blocks for rescue

A lot of people relegate a lot of jobs to the background simply because they are not done with suited attire. These kind of people forget that gold is not extracted from the offices and that oil that sustains a retinue of economies are not found on the football field. People also forget that except you soil your hands, you cannot eke a living. The fact that people work in the banks, work in ministries and other white-collar related jobs does not mean they will make money more than artisans.

Of course, in developed economies, it is the artisans that make more money. You make money and still support the economy and discourage building collapse. It is laziness that make oil-rich nations to employ foreign artisans and engineers to explore and drill their oil. Of course, Nigeria has all it takes to be an economic world power. But the saying that once the front runner misses the way, all that follows misses it, is very peculiar to the Nigerian nation.

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Our leaders make money through our collective sweat just because they are leaders and so people now see making easy money as the right way of creating wealth. The philosophy of whatever you are doing, you should do well is very important here. If those who mound blocks, make them with the mind that it must last, then it will save the cost when the building collapses.

 

This attitude of everybody eyeing white collar jobs or looking for cheap money should be reversed if the country and the country men should become self reliant. The fact that people want to own a home does not mean that anything can come together to give the home, rather there should be selected things that should give the togetherness that makes the solid home. The inability to get the solid materials and the required aggregates to sum up to the quantity needed for the house building is seen as a major cause of building collapse in Nigeria.

It is an undisputed fact that shelter is one of the basic human necessities of man. However, irrespective of the importance of shelter, most people do not have access to good shelter, most especially in developing countries. In fact there is an estimated deficit of between 18 million to 32 million housing units in Nigeria in 2012. This is despite the fact that some experts in some quarters are brandishing figures recklessly to suggest the limit of the housing deficits in the country. The poor are most adversely affected by this housing shortage.

The most important building materials for low-cost housing are blocks/ bricks, but conventional quality concrete blocks are too expensive for low-income communities. So if one considers molding solid bricks and masters the artistry, there every sureness that his products will always be in hot chase. When you use the product today, you will become a reference point. But on the contrary, if the product is not the quality type, after using it for the first times, you may not go back for it. Due to high cost of Portland cement, a lot of block producers use less than the recommended amount in the concrete mix making the blocks to be substandard. This is one of the most important contributing factors for the frequent building collapse in the country recently. Bricks/Blocks are solid pieces of hard substances, usually with flat sides, used as construction units.

They are sometimes referred to as masonry units (MU). Block and brick masonry are strong, fire-resistant, insect-proof building materials. They have a lot of thermal mass, which helps them retain heat and makes up for their relatively low insulation value. However, despite their similarities, block and brick have some major differences. Blocks are bigger in size as compared to bricks; blocks are usually made of concrete and hollow, while bricks, on the other hand, are smaller usually made of clay or other earthen materials and solid. Compressed Earth Brick (CEB) is an alternative building material to concrete blocks which have been proved to be an excellent substitute. However, the full potential of CEB is yet to be utilized due to the fact that most of the commercially available machines that produce CEB are very expensive. The most common CEB machine (Hydrafoam) is sold at about N6 million. There are simpler and cheaper low income brick/block producing machines.

Commonly used in the construction industry, concrete hollow blocks are usually manufactured using lightweight aggregates with a certain design load depending on the nature of member it will be used into. Normally, concrete hollow blocks have voids of 1⁄4 its gross area and the solid area should be not less than half of its area to attain its maximum allowable load capacity.

The voids are generally filled with mortar of lightweight aggregate material as well. There are two kinds of concrete hollow blocks; load-bearing concrete hollow blocks and non-load bearing concrete hollow blocks. It is available in sizes such as 100x200x400mm, 200x200x- 400mm, 150x200x400mm and so on. Most of the time compared with bricks but is different in a lot of ways. Aerated Autoclaved concrete blocks are lighter and bigger version of bricks. Mostly made with same ingredients as of bricks but with a different composition which made the material a vessel for cost-cutting.

Studies show that using autoclaved aerated block has diligently reduced the overall steel and concrete consumption by 15 percent and 10 percent. Concrete bricks typically are small rectangular block arranged and piled systematically to create a rigid wall. These bricks are usually made up of cooked clay or concrete. Some manufacturers use solid concrete while others play with its cement and aggregates ratio for economic purposes. Other manufacturers also created bricks with different color as per request of some clients.

Concrete bricks are usually used in fences, facades, as it provides good aesthetic and slick look. In any use of blocks, the most important thing to consider is that the load must not be what it will carry, otherwise, the building will cave in and shrink.

Way denser are bigger concrete bricks and solid concrete blocks are manufactured to be strong, heavy, and created out of naturally dense aggregates. These solid concrete blocks are strong enough that it is used for large masonry units that are load-bearing in nature. Solid concrete blocks are just similar to concrete brick but it is costlier and heavier but can withstand more forces as compared to bricks.

These concrete blocks are used in preparation for lintel beams. These lintel blocks are manufactured in such a way that it serves as a masonry unit and a formwork itself. Aesthetically, lintel blocks have a deep groove where reinforcing bars are put along with the concrete. Meaning, they serve as permanent formwork system for the lintel beam member. This is found to be efficient and useful by most builders as they serve two different purposes. A two in one product it is.

Source: Maduka Nweke

Kenya is aiming to be powered entirely by green energy by 2020

Kenya’s president has announced plans to move the country to 100% green energy by 2020, as it scales up renewable investment.

With an eye on sustainable development, President Uhuru Kenyatta aims to help mitigate climate change by reducing Kenya’s carbon footprint, while creating much-needed jobs.

The move comes as the country looks to triple the number of people connected to its power grid, to reach 60% of the population.

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A greener future

Currently, 70% of the nation’s installed electricity capacity comes from renewable energy sources, which is more than three times the global average.

The transition to fully renewable energy could further boost the population’s access to the national power grid and reduce manufacturing production costs.

Kenya has invested heavily in geothermal power generation, which supplies low-cost, low-emissions energy. According to the Renewables 2018 Global Status Report, the nation ranks 9th in the world for its geothermal power generating capacity (700 megawatts).

 

Africa’s largest single wind power facility is currently being developed at Lake Turkana in Kenya’s Rift Valley, with separate investments to develop other wind power plants.

An estimated 9 million Kenyan households have access to off-grid renewable energy and this figure is set to rise.

Speaking at the recent Paris Peace Forum in France, President Kenyatta called on Europe and other industrialized economies to recognize and support his nation’s investment in green energy.

Kenya co-hosted the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference with Canada and Japan, held in November.


As the cost of renewable energy falls, more nations are committing to carbon-free energy generation. Improved governmental policy support for renewables is also paving the way for continued global growth in the sector.

According to International Energy Agency (IEA) data the two clean energy sources with the biggest global growth are solar power – which is expanding faster than all other renewables combined – and wind power.

China leads the world in absolute solar PV capacity and is projected to hold almost 40% of the world’s installed solar capacity by 2023. It is followed by the US, while third-placed India is expected to increase its solar capacity fourfold in the same time-frame.

Global investment in wind power reached $160 billion in 2017. Spain has committed to switching its electricity-generating sector to fully renewable sources by 2050, with a further goal of fully decarbonizing its economy shortly after.

 

Over the coming decade, the Spanish government plans to generate anadditional 3,000 megawatts of wind and solar power capacity each year.

The ambitious plan includes the phasing out of Spanish coal mines, reskilling workers for jobs in clean energy and implementing environmental restoration programmes.

Meanwhile the UK government has pledged to double the country’s existinginvestment in offshore wind generation. However, overall UK investment in clean energy has fallen by nearly 50% since 2015.

UN Sustainable Development Goals call for urgent action to combat climate change and its impact. As awareness grows of the economic and environmental benefits of adopting cleaner energy sources, more policymakers are joining the fight against climate change.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Energy white paper suggests policy-makers work towards clear agreement on which policies to prioritize, and on steps to implement them.

These areas of consensus include creating a stable long-term policy framework for clean energy, carbon pricing initiatives, removing fossil-fuel subsidies, funding research into green technologies, removing barriers to energy efficiency and reforming electricity markets.

Source: Johnny Wood

USA: Mortgage applications decline in light of government shutdown

Despite mortgage rates continuing their two month downslide, applications decreased 9.8% from two weeks ago due to market uncertainty, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

The MBA’s Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending Dec. 28 found that the refinance index decreased 12% from two weeks earlier.

The refinance share of mortgage activity also decreased with the overall volume, falling to 42.7% of total applications from 43.6%.

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The seasonally adjusted purchase index decreased 8% from two weeks prior, while the unadjusted purchase index decreased 46% and was 6% lower than the same time in 2017.

“Mortgage applications fell over the past two weeks — even as the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage decreased to 4.84%, its lowest since September 2018. Investors continued to show a preference for safer U.S. Treasuries, as concerns over U.S. and global economic growth, along with uncertainty over the current government shutdown, drove rates lower,” Joel Kan, the MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting, said in a press release.

Adjustable-rate loan activity held at 7.6% of total applications, while the share of Federal Housing Administration-guaranteed loans increased to 10% from 9.7% the week prior.

The share of applications for Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loans rose to 11% from 10.1% and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Rural Development share decreased to 0.6% from 0.7% a week ago.

“Even with lower borrowing costs, both purchase and refinance applications decreased over the two-week holiday period, as both conventional and government applications dropped. Part of the decline in mortgage applications was possibly because of the government shutdown, as concerns over delays in FHA application processing times likely contributed to the weakness in activity,” Kan said.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($453,100 or less) decreased 2 basis points to 4.84%. For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (greater than $453,100), the average contract rate jumped to 4.72% from 4.59%.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages backed by the FHA decreased 5 basis points to 4.86%. For 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, the average decreased 6 basis points to 4.25%. The average contract interest rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased 7 basis points to 4.16%.

Challenges with regulators is responsible for foreign investment reduction, Titi Ogungbesan

The Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC Stockbrokers Limited, Titi Ogungbesan, has revealed why foreign investments in Nigeria’s capital market is alarming.

Ogungbesan said perceived private sector challenges with regulators is responsible for foreign investment reduction. According to her, stifled consumer spending also led to more caution and the withdrawals by foreign portfolio investors in the market.

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The Stanbic IBTC boss noted that since the country got out of recession in 2017, there had been a lot of optimism about the growth trajectory, but that the trajectory was stifled by external and internal headwinds last year.

“Nigeria was affected by the emerging market sell-offs, which highlighted the risks of investing in emerging and frontier markets and caused foreign investors to be more cautious” she said.

“The increase in the anchor rate by the Fed Reserve Bank also encouraged them to invest more in the United States, considering safety.

“The risk aversion typically associated with pre-election years has also been a factor. The continued challenge with the farmers/herdsmen clashes, perceived private sector challenges with regulators, and stifled consumer spending have also led to more caution and reduced foreign investment.”

Ogungbesan stated that opportunities abound in the country, adding that proper due diligence ought to be undertaken before investment. She maintained that investors should seek to partner credible local stakeholders that will assist them in achieving their objectives.

“With our experience, which spans several decades, we are willing and able to hold our clients’ and other prospective investors’ hands to guide them through the process.”

Stanbic IBTC, according to Ogungbesan, has been working with corporates and other stakeholders to encourage more participation in the capital market, especially in the area of new listings such as initial public offerings, rights issues, mergers and acquisitions.

“We will continue to collaborate with regulators in developing new initiatives and products and also embrace technology to encourage financial inclusion.”
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