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Safety and business sustainability in the power industry

The challenges in the power sector in Nigeria grew with time in the face of weak infrastructure, vandalism, electrical accidents with several electrocutions, and poor service. For the purpose of implementing a strategy to reduce fatality and injury rates in the power sector, as it impacts on service delivery, health and safety of utility workers and the general public, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) put in place the Nigerian Electricity Health and Safety Code Version 1.0, released in 2014. This practical document formulated with best industry practices to achieve the standards of health and safety as required under Part III Sections 32 (1)(e) and 32(2)(b) of the EPSR Act 2005.

Despite this code and other applicable safety guidelines, such as the Nigerian Electricity Supply and Installation Standards Regulations 2015, the level of electrical accidents, the fatality and injury rates, are still on the increase.

Electrical accident especially when it involves people, both utility workers and the public as well the environment, usually leads to huge expenditure, which has a deep effect on the triple bottom line (Profits, People and Planet) of business sustainability. Hence, managing the health, safety and environmental risks prevents losses and reduces attendant accident costs including compensation, medical expenses, regulatory penalties and fines, reputational damage, operational losses and legal consequences.

The duty of business is survival

According to Peter F. Drucker, an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation, avoidance of loss is paramount to business success. Drucker states: “The first duty of business is survival, and the guiding principle of business economics is avoidance of loss – not maximisation of profit.” Hence, avoiding losses – including those that occur as a result of our failure to integrate appropriate safety risk assessment into the power industry in Nigeria and the entire global village – will eventually promote and sustain the profitability and health of the players in the industry.

Be that as it may, in order to prevent accidents, and increase the bottom line of players in the industry, three critical safety factors (unsafe behaviours of the utility workers, poor public perception of safety and unsafe network conditions in terms of the electrical infrastructure) have been identified to have contributed to over 90% of accidents that have led to injuries and fatalities in both the utility workers and the public in Nigeria. Therefore, to avoid losses and improve performance, operational excellence and profitability, risk management programmes must focus on these three critical elements.

In terms of the unsafe behaviour of the utility workers, the players in the industry – especially in the distribution, transmission and generation companies – should embark on strategies that will enhance attitudinal change of the workers so that the safety culture is improved and sustained. Examples of such strategies include behavioural-based safety programmes, reward system and consequence management, safety counselling sessions, strategic safety meetings like toolbox talks, safety huddles and contractors’ safety engagements, safety learning sessions, and field safety monitoring and compliance activities.

Safety awareness programmes

The illegal construction of homes under power lines, trading near electrical equipment, working illegally with electricity assets (without permission from the distribution companies, wiring houses in the wrong manner) are among the poor public safety habits. Yes, attitude plays a role here but lack of safety awareness and government intervention with respect to enforcement of laws plays a major role. In order to overcome these challenges, the players in the industry should organise public sensitisation programmes using the media including print, electronic and wordofmouth. They can also engage in safety discourse in the communities, organise awareness on power safety in schools as a corporate social responsibility initiative, paste safety warnings/caution signages, and work with government to prevent encroachment on power lines as stipulated in the Nigerian Electricity Supply and Installation Standards (NESIS) Regulations 2015 Vol. 1 (chapter 3 Section 3.1).

Furthermore, unsafe network conditions like failure of the relay system, use of undersized conductors, poorly maintained electrical equipment and bent poles usually lead to accidents. Therefore, to prevent any untoward incident in the industry, there is an urgent need to carry out network technical audits, so as to identify unsafe network conditions and implement corrective actions. Meanwhile, the distribution and transmission companies should carry out quick-win programmes such as network safety monitoring and periodic facility safety assessment (FSA) to identify unsafe network conditions and fix immediately.

In conclusion, it is pertinent to be cognisant that a robust safety risk management programme, that will enhance operational excellence and profitability, requires commitment from the top management of every facet of leadership from both the corporate organisation and government. Hence, no matter how laudable the programme is, its workability and sustainability is dependent on the leaders in the industry. ESI.

Source: esi-africa

Smart Design Can Help Combat E-Waste

Global concern about the mountains of e-waste generated every year has been rising for quite some time – and with good reason.

Global concern about the mountains of e-waste generated every year has been rising for quite some time – and with good reason: In 2014, the United Nations estimated that humans produced 41.8 million metric tons of electronic waste. That’s 92 billion pounds – and even though IT products made up just 7 percent of that waste, that still represents almost 6.5 billion pounds of waste our industry generated in a single year.

There are no easy solutions to the many enmeshed challenges of e-waste, but by designing for reuse, repair, refurbishing and recycling, we can make real progress.

Understand end-of-life

For all the concern about user experience in design, there is one aspect of product design that gets ignored entirely too often by others – one that has major impacts on the business, the environment, and people around the world: end-of-life design.

Designing for a second life requires a deep understanding of the downstream processes for handling electronics. One way to enable this is to open up dialogue between designers and recyclers. These experiences and conversations with recyclers get the designers thinking about beautiful products that are also optimized for repair, refurbishment, and recycling.

Big and small changes can make refurbishing and recycling significantly easier. For instance, on a recent field trip our engineers learned that having laptop cases open from the top instead of the bottom greatly extends the time it takes to dismantle. Using snap fits vs. glues and adhesives help minimize processing time. And designing instruction manuals with icons, pictures, and videos rather than text allows recyclers to work and repair at the same time instead of pausing to read detailed instructions.

For Man Tak Ho, one of Dell’s Mechanical Senior Engineers, the field trips really help extend the life of the product: “Not only do we need to be making it easy to disassemble, but it needs to be easy to repair.”

Think Modular

Modular thinking is another way to address e-waste. One example that we’ve employed with our commercial notebooks is creating a single access door for all major components, which makes it easier for users to repair by themselves versus requiring a user guide and trained technician.

Fairphone, a Dutch cell phone maker, does a great job of incorporating modular thinking into their design while also addressing human rights challenges associated with extracting raw materials.

Their latest model, the Fairphone 2, is “a smartphone dedicated to creating positive social change.” The company sources fair-trade metals and works to improve mining supply chains in Africa and elsewhere. The phone’s innovative modular design makes upgrading and repairing a simple plug-and-play operation.

The short film below, by the winner of Dell’s Legacy of Good Short Film Contest, dives into Fairphone’s approach and process.

Your trash is our treasure

Turns out “trash” can be a workable and cost effective material for designers. We’re seeing it in the growth of the circular economy, with innovative uses of waste products being turned into the building blocks of exciting projects and products. Adidas, for example, just made a slick shoe out of ocean plastic – a material we’re exploring for use in our packaging.

This idea of turning trash into treasure holds true for electronics design as well. Some of us in the industry are using recycled plastics for our products. At Dell, we are turning the plastic from e-waste into new parts for OptiPlex all-in-ones, desktops and monitors. We are also using other industries’ excess carbon fiber in select Latitude, and Alienware laptops.

Critical to all of this is strong recycling infrastructure. If Dell did not have recycling operations in 83 countries and territories, “closing the loop” would become more challenging.

We owe it to our customers, our communities and our planet to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with design. It’s not always just about the beauty on the outside, but the hidden beauty: the resources we leave out, what we recycle, and how we extend the workable life for the next person to enjoy.

Ed Boyd is Dell’s Senior Vice President of Experience Design across commercial, consumer and enterprise businesses.

Source: riplepundit

Rwanda sees growth in private partnership

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are an important way to fill investment gaps that arise due to lack of enough resources to finance public projects especially in developing countries.

According to East African Business Week, Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Rwanda Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning was recently speaking during a three-day working trip to South Korea where he attended the Korea-Africa Forum for Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC) Ministerial Conference.

“One of the objectives of Rwanda’s Vision 2020 is to develop a private sector led economy. It is in this context that Rwanda has done significant reforms to improve its business environment and to ease doing business for the private sector alone or in partnership with the government,” he said.

Some of the areas suitable for PPP investment model in Rwanda include the Nyabarongo II Hydropower generation, Mutobo water supply project, Rwanda International Trade Fairs and Exhibition Park, Muvumba Multipurpose dam among others.

According to a press release, the 2016 KOAFEC Ministerial Conference focused on ‘Transforming Africa’s Agriculture through Industrialization and Inclusive Finance’, as well PPPs.

Discussing how PPPs can fast-track development, Ndagijimana said most public investments are usually costly and may not be financially viable to attract the private sector. This then requires the government to get involved.

He added however, even when the government has resources, it may lack technical capacity to execute and operate them efficiently.

Currently several projects are being implemented under the PPPs arrangement in ICT, energy, water, transport and agro-processing sectors.

According to the organisers, KOAFEC has made significant progress in African countries in areas of human resource development, information communication technology (ICT), agriculture, infrastructure, green growth partnership and knowledge sharing on Korea’s economic development experiences.

The KOAFEC Ministerial Conference this year brought together Ministers and delegations from all over Africa and Korea, representing governmental organizations, the private sector, academia, and the media.

Established jointly by South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and the Export-Import Bank of Korea in 2006, KOAFEC has served as a comprehensive platform for promoting mutually beneficial partnership between Korea and Africa.

By Sam OKwakol, East African Business Week

Source: agricouncil

In 2013 government reintroduced 18% VAT on water for domestic and government projects

Basing on the belief that access to clean water is a human right; a call has been made to government to scrap off Value Added Tax (VAT) on Water to enable every Ugandan including low-income consumers to also access clean tap water.

The proposal was made by students pursuing masters degrees in Public Infrastructure Management (MPIM) at Makerere University following their study tour to South Africa.

In May this year, a total of 22 second year masters students under MPIM visited South Africa and areas of study were roads and transport management, energy resources management and water resource and sanitation management.

The team that undertook a water tour study found out that 92% of South Africans have access to clean water while in Uganda, 67% have access to clean drinking water.

The senior monitoring and evaluation officer in the Ministry of Water and Environment, Josephine Apajo while presenting findings of the study on behalf of other students, said South Africa removed VAT on water, almost everyone can access clean water and this has among other advantages reduced cases of diseases related to consumption of unclean water.

“Uganda should borrow a leaf from South Africa and increase the percentage of people accessing clean water. One of the ways to do so is through scrapping off vat on piped water,” she said.

“Access to safe and clean water is a human right; everybody should be given water for free, this will help in addressing challenges involved in consuming dirty water like outbreak of water borne diseases like typhoid, cholera” she added.

In 2013 while still the Minister of Finance, Maria Kiwanuka reintroduced 18% VAT on water for domestic and government projects with the purpose of collecting sh8b in revenue to fund the sh13.1 trillion 2013/14 budget.

In addition, Apajo revealed that while in South Africa sanitation is under the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, in Uganda there is no specific ministry in charge of sanitation.

She proposed sanitation in Uganda be part of Water and Environment ministry.

This was during the MPIM study tour dissemination seminar held at the main campus and organized by Makerere College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS).

Umar Kakumba, associate professor and Dean, CoBAMS said the health budget is escalating every financial year; removing VAT on water would be beneficial because it means many people would be able to access clean drinking water and disease outbreaks would be minimal thus cutting costs on treatment.

He however noted that research is necessary to determine whether it is a tangible solution and its impact.

The guest of honour Dr. Henry Rubarenzya, the Head of Research and Development, Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) said the challenges affecting the infrastructure sector are largely corruption, budget limitations, bureaucracy, poor quality infrastructure, high cost of the infrastructure and inadequate local competent and skilled labour.

To address these challenges, he said leadership and management skills take centre stage in addition to key capabilities required to make a significant impact to the infrastructure including innovation, public funds management, and human capital development.

“We have to deliberately build skills through continuous training, exposure, internships and rightful deployments,” he said.

On the proposal to scrap VAT on water, Rubarenzya said it is a proposal that has to be looked at holistically.

He reasoned that some development partners like World Bank are halting financial support to Uganda, government is looking for ways to get money and run projects in various sectors, therefore removing VAT on water would not be a good idea.

Source: newvision

‘Zero waste’ approach to water, sanitation management

Delegates from the BRICS countries have unanimously adopted the ‘zero waste’ approach to water and sanitation management.

This was the outcome of the three-day third BRICS Urbanisation Forum that concluded here on Friday.

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Delivering the valedictory address, Union Minister of State for Urban Development Rao Inderjit Singh said that Andhra Pradesh was right in coming forward to host the three-day summit. “It is a Sunrise State with a number of challenges, and it appears quite a few ideas have come to the fore at the summit,” he said.

Mr. Inderjit Singh pointed out that BRICS was a unique group and the countries should extend their cooperation in the development of other countries in the group.

“Building smart cities is not just about infrastructure creation. It has many ingredients such as a pro-active society, environment, healthy habitation and lifestyle, and inclusiveness,” he observed. In his address, P. Narayana, Minister for Urban Development, Government of Andhra Pradesh, said that urbanisation should be viewed positively. “Urbanisation creates jobs and infrastructure. And we are already lagging behind. For rapid urbanisation, we need to do urban planning and urban governing. The Brazilian model is good and we are already thinking of implementing it,” he said.

Waste-to-energy

Experts from China showcased the city of Shenzen, where only 6 per cent of municipal solid waste was being dumped in the open.

Xu Hayun, Chief Engineer, China Construction Group, said that 2,10,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste was being recycled daily to generate 4,300 MW of power.

He said that waste-to-energy conversion had been substantially enhanced since 1988 when only 150 tonnes of waste was converted into power. He further said that 94 per cent of solid waste being generated in Chinese cities was being recycled.

TN’s model

B. Chandra Mohan, Revenue Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu, said that Chennai was a leading example of resilience in water management, being the first city in the country to set up a desalination plant enabling use of 200 million litres of sea water per day. Noting that only one per cent of readily usable water was available for humanity as 97 per cent of water being in the seas and another two per cent locked up in deep aquifers, N. A. Buthelegi of South Africa called for adoption of appropriate technologies and response mechanisms to meet the water needs of people.

She said that in South Africa, 15,000 water ambassadors were pressed into service to educate people about proper water use. South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Settlements Zou-Kota Fredericks, while expressing concern over the growing slums and informal settlements in urban areas, called for ensuring liveable and sustainable human settlements in urban areas. While Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Urban Development B. Anand summed up the three-day meet, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs, Ministry of Urban Development, Jagan Shah, said that urban renaissance in India was based on the five pillars of empowering urban local bodies, citizen participation, capacity building of stakeholders, effective urban planning, and augmenting financial resources of cities and towns.

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Source: thehindu


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Newmont ranked mining industry’s overall leader in sustainability again

Newmont Mining Corporation, the parent company of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited (Ahafo Mine) and Newmont Golden Ridge Limited (Akyem Mine) has been ranked the mining industry’s overall leader in sustainability for the second consecutive time by the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI-World).

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This achievement also marks the tenth consecutive year Newmont has been included on the DJSI-World, making it the only mining company to have achieved this milestone.

Newmont was the first gold company named to the index in 2007, and has been included on the DJSI North America Index since 2006.

“Our company’s commitment to Newmont’s Sustainability and Responsibility values has contributed significantly to this recognition from the DJSI-World. We thank our employees and business partners for staying true to our purpose of creating value and improving lives through sustainable and responsible mining.” said Alwyn Pretorius, Newmont’s Regional Senior Vice President, Africa Operations.

He added: “These recognitions are further proof of our strong contribution to our host communities and Ghana.”

In addition to being ranked the overall industry leader in the mining sector, Newmont received the highest score (100th percentile) in a number of areas including Occupational Health and Safety, Risk and Crisis Management; Climate Strategy; Environmental Policy and Management Systems; Water-related Risks; Asset Closure Management; and Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy.

The DJSI-World, one of the most highly regarded sustainability indices includes 316 global companies identified as leaders in the areas of sustainable economic, environmental and social performance.

Since it commenced operations in Ghana, Newmont has instituted a number of comprehensive social investment programmes in education, healthcare, infrastructure, human resource development, local content support and other sustainability initiatives at its Akyem and Ahafo operational areas.

Newmont Ghana’s strong performance in these areas contributed to Newmont’s second time recognition as the world’s leader in Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

This year, Newmont Ghana’s Akyem mine was ranked the first among Ghana’s 100 most prestigious companies (Ghana Club 100) while its Ahafo mine was ranked 8th.

The Akyem Mine was also adjudged the Leader in the Petroleum and Mining Sector Rankings. Both mines have also been ISO14001 certified and indicate their adherence to the highest standards in environmental practice.

More information on Newmont Ghana’s safety, economic, environmental and social performance can be found in Newmont’s annual sustainability report, Beyond the Mine.
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Scratching the Surface of African Tourism

“Tourism in Africa is on the rise, but has not yet reached its full potential,” is the rallying cry from the African Development Bank’s Africa Tourism Monitor 2015 with a view to 2016 and beyond, as it alludes to a wealth of opportunities, continent-wide, to capitalise on rapidly growing international interest.

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The third annual instalment of the study – in conjunction with New York University’s Africa House and the Africa Travel Association – was aptly titled ‘Unlocking Africa’s Tourism Potential’ upon its release at the start of the year, and through comprehensive insight into facts, figures, contributions, accounts, industry representatives and tour operators, the general consensus suggests there is so much more to come.

And this isn’t to say that the current figures make for grim reading either.

“One of the key findings of the report, as indicated in its introduction, is that the tourism sector in Africa is growing,” reported the African Development Bank upon the document’s release. “In 2014, a total of 65.3 million international tourists visited the continent, around 200,000 more than in 2013. Back in 1990, Africa welcomed just 17.4 million visitors from abroad. The sector has therefore quadrupled in size in less than 15 years.

“According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Africa’s strong performance in 2014 (up four percent) makes it one of the world’s fastest-growing tourist destinations, second only to Southeast Asia.”

The multicultural, multifaceted nature of what Africa has to offer seems to be the reason behind the ever-rising interest among international tourists; diverse attractions from the pyramids in Egypt, to Table Mountain in South Africa, the Sahara, Victoria Falls, rainforests, safaris and plains combining to present a range unparalleled anywhere else on earth.

The only drawback remains the way in which the countries in question continue to market such lures, and how they can continue to build an infrastructure and industry capable of housing the scope of people who would hope to one day grace their shores.

Africa’s Top Three tourist destinations in 2014

“Two North African countries top the list of most-visited countries in Africa. Egypt experienced the strongest growth in the sector in 2014, with 454,000 more international arrivals than in 2013, an increase of five percent in just one year.

“Second on the list is Morocco, which once again recorded more than 10 million incoming international tourists in 2014, an increase of 236,000 when compared with the previous year.

“In third place is Côte d’Ivoire, in West Africa. The country is experiencing a strong economic recovery. Although it recorded “only” 91,000 more international arrivals in 2014 than in 2013, this figure represents a 24 percent rise in just 12 months. This double-digit growth provides yet further evidence of the country’s vast tourism potential.”

–          African Development Bank’s Africa Tourism Monitor, 2015

Simplistic initiatives

Ultimately, the long-term benefits of meeting these demands speak for themselves. Already, the influx of tourists to the continent has had a dramatic effect on each country’s economies and in 2014 alone; Africa recorded US$43.6 billion in revenue from the sector.

In total, international tourism now accounts for 8.1 percent of Africa’s total GDP, and the benefits extend far beyond the initial fiscal statistics as well.

“More tourists also mean more jobs,” the African Development Bank emphasised. “Across the continent, there are around 20 million people working directly or indirectly for the tourism industry. This means that the sector accounts for 7.1 percent of all jobs in Africa.

“Jobs supported by the sector include guides, hotel staff, interpreters, aviation staff and small businesses.”

Beyond that, individual sectors are also thriving as a consequence of the rise, with industries such as hospitality experiencing particularly rapid growth in both developed and emerging nations; once again driving higher levels of employment and domestic business relationships as a result.

The Bank continued: “The hospitality sector is expanding into new countries such as Mauritania, which has, until now, remained largely on the fringes. According to the report, it is sub-Saharan Africa, rather than North Africa, that is benefiting most from the expansion of hotel chains and the corresponding increase in the number of available rooms.

“Nigeria, the continent’s most populous country, comes top of the rankings in this respect, followed by Egypt and Morocco. However, the biggest hotel development project in sub-Saharan Africa can be found in Equatorial Guinea, in the Grand Hotel Oyala Kempinski, which, when complete, will feature 451 rooms.”

Again, the onus now is to not only ride the wave of the trend, but to proactively leverage it to its full extent, and numerous initiatives are beginning to manifest around the continent to this end; both to harness the increased number of tourists already visiting the continent, and to attract even more in the future.

The African Development Bank noted: “The report is particularly complimentary about recent simplifications to the visa system and regional cooperation mechanisms, including the introduction of the e-visa and the single visa scheme, enabling tourists to visit all Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states using just one visa.

“Other examples include the “KAZA” (Kavango Zambezi) common tourist visa developed by Zambia and Zimbabwe, and the single visa covering three countries – Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda – launched by the East African Community (EAC) in February, 2014.”

Untapped potential

These simple – but effective – schemes are already expected to boost tourism revenue and job creation by as much as 25 percent in the coming years, replicating a successful model adopted across Europe, North America, South America and Australasia over the decades.

It is just the beginning though, with more and more calls coming for an improvement in the infrastructure awaiting tourists once on the continent, as opposed to solely improving the logistical proposition for people choosing Africa as a destination in the first place.

“Transport infrastructure and services is one of the key constraints limiting growth of the tourism sector,” the Bank offered as an example. “As the report indicates, ‘Journeys in the African continent are not always seamless’. In fact, it is more difficult – and more expensive – to travel across Africa than to get there from Europe, America or the Middle East.

“The report also points to other barriers to tourism sector development in Africa, including a lack of dedicated incentive policies, the need for closer regional cooperation, weaknesses in infrastructure and security problems.”

As such, The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) launched its Tourism Action Plan way back in 2004 to help develop a more sustainable approach to tourism, but the effectiveness and extent of the initiative is still yet to be realised despite the potential 155,000 jobs it would create, and the US$1.3 billion extra GDP it would generate.

“Security issues have posed a particular problem for the sector since 2013, especially in North Africa, Mali and coastal regions of Kenya,” the Bank added in regards to some of the key drawbacks. “The report indicates that, of the 80 countries for which travel warnings were issued by the US State Department, 30 were located in Africa.

“Moreover, although the 2013-2014 Ebola virus outbreak only affected West Africa, it created a climate of fear that spread to many other countries on the continent; even those far from the source of the outbreak.”

Negative impacts on some of the continent’s natural lures, including the increased number of animals on the brink of extinction and damaging connotations associated with poaching and illegal trading of species are further areas which Africa needs to address in order to turn around the continent’s global perception entirely; and these epitomise a general status which highlights that the recent positive growth in tourist numbers is barely scratching the surface of what can be achieved in the future.

The African Development Bank concluded: “Although international tourism is on the rise in Africa, the continent currently accounts for just 5.8 percent of the world’s incoming tourists and 3.5 percent of global revenue in the sector.

“As such, the sector still has vast untapped potential; potential that, if exploited, could kick-start rapid economic growth.”
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Source: africaoutlookmag


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AECOM partners with University of Salford to fund sustainable infrastructure research

Environmental consultancy firm AECOM and the University of Salford have struck up a new partnership that aims to improve understanding of how major infrastructure programmes interact with the environment.

The new partnership will co-fund research that potentially leads to PhD studies and scientific papers covering building projects in ‘environmentally sensitive’ areas and biodiversity disruptions during construction, which will be ‘increasingly important’ for future sustainable infrastructure projects.

AECOM’s chief executive of environment and ground engineering for Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa Peter Skinner said: “Shaping research so that it is applicable to specific projects provides students with opportunities to make a tangible difference to both academia and industry through their learning.

“Greater collaboration between universities and the private sector will make an important contribution to mitigating the impact of infrastructure on the environment and protecting the natural world. AECOM is proud to be working with the University of Salford on this initiative to increase understanding of the environmental and ecological aspects of infrastructure projects.”

The partnership evolved as a result of AECOM’s work with the Mersey Gateway project – A six lane toll bridge that will stretch across the river Mersey and one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK – in which AECOM are advising on the complex and sensitive estuarine environment surrounding the construction areas.

As a part of this project, AECOM decided that further research on large infrastructural impact on similar sensitive environments would be beneficial to sustainable construction.

The University of Salford’s vice chancellor for research and enterprise Nigel Mellor said: “This partnership will provide a unique opportunity for both parties. It fits into our aim of focusing our research at real life challenges and to deliver real life impact for society. It will also give our students the chance to get involved in a live project and help them develop key skills for industry.”

Green tape

AECOM expressed concerns regarding sustainable building practices being hindered by Government and Mayoral politics in an exclusive talk with edie in April. Ant Wilson of AECOM highlighted the Green deal and the zero-carbon homes policy as examples of green policies that have been stunting sustainable growth within the sector.

This issue is evident in various large cities. For example, whilst London is one of the leading cities in adopting green buildings in the UK, the city is suffering from a ‘quantity over quality’ approach to sustainable buildings and is unwilling to set quantifiable energy efficiency targets for buildings.

However, this new partnership could alleviate concerns and push forward initiatives to promote best practices for sustainable building development. Moreover, the recently introduced Natural Capital Protocol – a standardised framework to measure business value impacts on natural assets – also tackles misunderstanding and differing opinions on sustainable business construction, providing a more direct path to follow for sustainable business growth.
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Source: edie


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Research centre marries disciplines for a sustainable mining futur

Although mining faces severe challenges in the existing economic conditions, it remains an important sector for growth and transformation in Africa. So at the heart of any strategy to achieve resilience in African mining lies the requirement for appropriate knowledge, capability, attitude and behaviour of the mining leaders of the future.

Modern approaches

As a result of this need, a multidisciplinary Mining Resilience Research Centre (MRRC) has been established at the University of Pretoria (UP) to focus on research activities within the mining industry and to develop lasting partnerships with leading international research and academic institutions.

“Issues around legacy, responsibility, impact and innovation need to be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable mining industry in Africa. Establishing the MRRC is the result of thorough industry consultation.”

“The main aim of this centre is to provide modern approaches, world-class facilities and globally relevant topics, making it possible for researchers to excel and for the industry to build capacity,” explains Professor Jan du Plessis, Sasol Chair in Health, Safety and Environment in the Department of Mining Engineering at UP.

Mining inextricably linked to Africa’s future

The World Bank has said that Africa is home to about 30% of the world’s mineral reserves, 10% of the world’s oil, and 8% of the world’s natural gas. In South Africa the mining industry is responsible for an estimated 19% of all economic activity and supports at least another 25 % of up and downstream economic activities. Despite this considerable wealth on the continent, it is plagued by poverty, social inequality, and slow economic development.

However, mining remains a key driver for growth and is inextricably linked to Africa’s future – with mining comes employment and skills development, investment in education, the construction of infrastructure and the generation of much-needed revenue.

Envisaged collaborations

  • Mining education with the aim to co-create, develop and adopt a resilient African mining model as the blueprint for mine designs of the future.
  • New technologies including mechanised mining, automation, robotics and the associated workplace order and culture.
  • Socio-economic aspects of mining, on how empowered, technologically enabled and educated communities relate to mining operations.
  • Mining governance in Africa to meet the highest standards.

 

Fully-integrated centre

Faculties that currently form part of the MRRC are humanities, natural and agricultural sciences, economic and management sciences, engineering, built environment and information technology and law.

In the future more of the university’s faculties involved in mining research will become part of the MRRC activities, making it a fully integrated mining research centre. The MRRC is currently busy with six research projects in engineering, built environment and humanities.
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Current public transport subsidies not sustainable, warns Treasury

South African public transport operators need “to do more with less” as the economy contracted and the national fiscus faced increasing financial pressure, said National Treasury intergovernmental relations deputy director-general Malijeng Ngqaleni on Monday as she addressed the Southern African Transport Conference in Pretoria.

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She noted that the current system of public transport subsidies was “clearly not sustainable”. This system largely subsidised the middle-class through subsidies to train and bus services, such as Metrorail and Gautrain, and not the poor, who primarily used the unsubsidised minibus taxi system.

She regarded the minibus system as “very efficient”, as it serviced 67% of public transport users, collecting 71% of public transport fares in South Africa.

She added that South Africa’s current public transport system was “by and large very costly and not very efficient”, especially as private car use continued “to accelerate”.

“We are not doing enough to help the poor. In our current fiscal environment, there must be a better way.”

Ngqaleni said the South African government had spent R167-billion on public transport infrastructure and operational subsidies (excluding the road network) over the last ten years, at an average yearly growth rate of 18%.

This growth rate could, however, be lower in future, owing to lower economic growth, she added.

Quoting figures from the 2014 National Treasury Expenditure Performance Review of South Africa’s PublicTransport and Infrastructure Systems, she noted that the municipal bus service received between R16.75 and R24.36 operating subsidy per passenger per trip, while conventional bus services, such as Putco, received between R11.40 and R16.89.

Bus rapid transit (BRT) systems received between R11.76 and R15.12. The operating subsidy for Metrorail was R3.73 per passenger per trip, and R60.30 for the Gautrain, which she regarded as “a huge subsidy”.

The Gautrain, however, recovered 57% of its costs through the fare box, with Metrorail at 39%, BRTs at between 28% and 44%, conventional bus systems between 31% and 44% and municipal bus systems between 13% and 31%.

Ngqaleni was not, however, opposed to public transport subsidies.

“We need to subsidise public transport systems. Public transport systems the world over are almost always subsidised.”

She said Taiwan and Hong Kong could recover around 100% of their costs through fare income, with the US at between 26% and 56%. Fare box recovery in Europe was between 40% and 91%.

Ngqaleni suggested that public transport spending in South Africa should increasingly be linked to land use planning and integration between public transport modes, for example.

“We should use the fiscal system to drive integration.”

It was also possible to use subsidies to create a safer, more convenient minibus taxi system, without surrendering any of the system’s current efficiency.

She emphasised, however, that there was no time frame yet for the provision of subsidies to the taxi industry.
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Source: engineeringnews


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