Monday, December 29, 2008

Servants, slaves, workers?

Hi everyone, congrats on living it up in 2008. This story is about the secret lives of Nigerians. Read, comment if you like. This new year, reflect on how living standards are rising (and must continue to rise) for yourself, for Nigerians, and for people around the world. Never call any living thing stupid again. Peace and love.

House maids in America
Shyima Hall, 19, discusses her domestic enslavement Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2008, in Beaumont, Calif. Shyima was 10 when a wealthy Egyptian couple brought her from a poor village in Northern Egypt to work in their California home. She awoke before dawn and often worked past midnight to iron their clothes, mop the marble floors and dust the family's crystal. She earned $45 a month working up to 20 hours a day. The trafficking of children for domestic labor in the United States is an extension of an illegal but common practice among the upper class in Africa...The sentence: Three years in federal prison for Ibrahim, 22 months for his wife, and then deportation for both. Read more

In US etc, I would "Report. Report. Report." In Naija, what to do? I mean, how many parents in Naija treat their own kids so cruelly, let alone relatives, let alone their omo-odo.
To get involved with an organisation against child slavery, visit or at least buy the book.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


In Naija, Yahoo is THE internet brand. People don't really know gmail, hotmail, etc. Many computers have as their homepage. Yahoo's firing workers nowadays, the recession being a fine excuse. If the company went under, don't worry we'd still use the verb yahoo, the adjective yahoo-yahoo, the noun yahoozee, ...
(I just paused to cycle my arms as in the dance to the horrific, addictive yahoozee song)

Last week I lent my first <100dollars for a FUTY student's business idea. Wish us luck. The second part of this post is from the company website of John Doerr, famous Venture Capitalist.

“Where you live should not decide… whether you live or whether you die.”
-- Bono
“I strongly believe that we can create a poverty-free world, if we want to.... In that kind of world, [the] only place you can see poverty is in the museum.”
-- Muhammed Yunus
“ [Green's] opponents... named it liberal, tree-hugging, girly-man, sissy, unpatriotic, vaguely French… I’ve been trying to redefine green as the most capitalistic, patriotic, geostrategic, pro-american... green IS the new red, white and blue.”
-- Tom Friedman
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
-- Margaret Mead

Friday, December 05, 2008



Sub-prime problems hit Japan...

Following the problems in the sub-prime lending market in America and the run
on HBOS in the UK, uncertainty has now hit Japan .

In the last 7 hours Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up and
Bonsai Bank announced plans to cut some of its branches. Yesterday, it was
announced that Karaoke Bank is up for sale and will likely go for a song, while
today shares in Kamikaze Bank were suspended after they nose-dived.

Samurai Bank is soldiering on following sharp cutbacks, Ninja Bank is reported
to have taken a hit, but they remain in the black. Furthermore, 500 staff at
Karate Bank got the chop and analysts report that there is something fishy
going on at Sushi Bank where it is feared that staff may get a raw deal.

……but looking on the bright side, growth at the Shitake Bank has mushroomed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bank Of Industry: Miniloans, Microloans?

Hi everyone! Time to pretend that I posted in November!
Here's a link to what everyone is talking about out here:
They'd lend money (on the order of one million naira) to entrepreneurs, with a co-operative system in lieu of a large collateral requirement. That means cash for capital can't be an excuse for not starting a business here in Nigeria. Tell everybody.
It turns out, surprisingly, that twenty-somethings also lack BUSINESS IDEAS. I don't lack ideas, so maybe I should sell mine :) to hundreds of people who have the smarts to develop them.

Friday, October 31, 2008


Which of these technologies do you particularly like?

I live in an ever-sunny place now that has limited electricity supply. Most people hand pump their own water or buy from "mairuwa." Really fast internet is really rare here. Granted, all this lives alongside nature and beauty.

The best things in life are free

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Future of Biofuels in Africa...

Local renewable fuel production is reducing poverty and strengthening markets across the continent. An emerging international market in biofuels— fuel typically derived from plant biomass— presents a unique opportunity for African growth and development. While bio-fuel production can have serious implications for food security and the sustainable management of land resources, with smart policies and actions these obstacles can be overcome to ensure long-term socio-economic and environmental benefits.

For Africa, bio-fuels can be a tool for development that can help create domestic energy supplies, improve rural livelihoods, and put Africa in line to become a global player in the emerging renewable fuel markets.Members of the European Union agreed earlier this year to a goal of using bio-fuels to meet 5.75 percent of their transportation fuel needs by 2010. China is requiring a 10% ethanol blend in 5 provinces of the country by 2010 and the Energy Bill that just passed the Senate floor, likewise, includes a bio-fuels target for the United States of up to 7.5 billion gallons blend by 2012, and Canada with a 3.5% bio-fuels target blend by 2010. It is policies like these, driven by concerns about energy security and climate change in industrialized countries that are propelling the bio-fuels industry to record levels of growth.The ethanol industry has seen production worldwide double since 2001; bio-diesel has similarly expanded dramatically, more than tripling production since 2005.

Brazil, for one, has dominated the spotlight because of its impressive 30-year transition since the mid-1970s from foreign imported fossil fuels to domestically processed bio-based fuels made from sugar cane.Now a question that many people are asking is if Brazil’s story can set an example for other countries in the developing world. Does Africa stand to take advantage of this emerging market? Or will it be left on the sidelines of yet another global industry in the modern era? Bio-fuel production, unlike manufacturing and high-tech industries, is rooted in agriculture development, where the required resources and capability strength is abundant in Africa. With a greater land mass than the United States, Brazil and India put together, tropical climatic zones that have year-round growing seasons, and a large labor force—more than half of the population lives off farming—the continent has many of the right ingredients to become a global supplier of bio-fuels.With oil prices showing no sign of abating, ethanol and bio-diesel are increasingly cost competitive.

For Africa in particular the introduction of a bio-fuel industry could have a broad range of positive economic impacts. The opportunities are endless: creating secondary or supplemental income for farmers, improving rural communities, building domestic foreign refinery capacity, creating jobs, offering diversifying agricultural food production, helping meet domestic fuel demand, and the possibility of energy export, among others. High energy crops like sugarcane, corn, and cassava, produced in excess and known for their high starch content, a key requirement for ethanol production, have been found suitable for production in Africa. Also, peanuts, jatropha, and palm oil, crops that could produce diesel from their oil using a low-cost technology mechanism, grown under Africa’s favorable climatic condition could add to the opportunity for development.

Some African countries have already begun to respond to this opportunity. Senegal, an oil-importing country in West Africa, is at the forefront of these efforts. Led by President Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal has joined forces to form a ‘Green OPEC’ alliance with 14 other non-oil producing countries in Africa under the title of Pan-African Non-Petroleum Producers Association (PANPP). In partnership with Brazil and India, their goal is to exchange knowledge and technologies for the development of a bio-fuel industry. The collaboration has resulted in several investments on projects in Africa, including one with excess of $1 billion over the next six years to construct eight new ethanol plants by Ethanol Africa, a South African company with established knowledge and experience in bio-fuels.

South Africa has taken important steps to implement a policy-wide initiative promoting bio-fuel production in Africa. It recently introduced a 6-billion-rand (US$828-million) plan seeking to use bio-fuels to meet up to 75 percent of its energy needs by 2013. The program will establish an E8 & B2 bio-fuel industry using mostly soybeans for diesel, and maize and sugarcane for ethanol, (crops already produced in excess), with a proposed blending of up to 5% bio-diesel and 10% bio-ethanol.

New policies also propose achieving a liquid bio-fuel average market penetration of 3.4% by 2013 without utilizing surplus agricultural capacity. The program expects to create up to 55, 000 new jobs, contribute up to 11% towards GDP, and add about R1 700 million annually in national domestic product. With limited subsidizing of energy crops for bio-fuel production, proper price regulation standards, government support for domestic production, removal of import tariffs, involvement of government agencies to coordinate and enhance productivity, and promotion of international collaboration, South Africa hopes to become a major player in the bio-fuel market.Namibia, a country in East Africa, has attempted to develop bio-fuels through planting and harvesting jatropha, but the institutional and economic risks involved have hampered further development.

Namibia has also made other attempts at renewable energy production using bio-fuels: a planned project seeks to utilize 6% of its mostly degraded land to grow woody shrubs for production to meet domestic energy needs, reduce poverty, and cut down on environmental degradation. The derivative from the production process could be used for animal feed, as charcoal products, chipboards, and as bush blocks.Similarly, in Mozambique, a two-year program, sponsored by the Global Environment Facility-Small Grant Program and the GAIA Movement with co-financing by Ajuda de Desenvolvimento de Povo para Povo, plants Jatropha around degraded land in rural areas to address deforestation, enhance economic living standards of rural dwellers, and provide domestic fuel capacity for rural communities in what has been termed “fuel fences.” It has been found that the crop simultaneously guards against erosion and encroaching deserts, as well as produces a fruit that can be converted in bio-diesel with simple systems costing less than USD 2,000. The project recruits and trains select groups of farmers to develop and sustain a viable jatropha market in Mozambique. These projects are seen as opportunities for Africa to become major players in the bio-fuel market.Even oil exporting countries have embarked on the trail in making investments for bio-fuel production; Nigeria in partnership with Brazil expects revenues of about $150 million from investments in the production of ethanol from cassava and sugarcane. Nigeria currently produces about 30 million tons of cassava a year with expected production of about 50 million liters of ethanol a year.

Despite these early advances, however, there are concerns and obstacles to widespread production of bio-fuels. These concerns relate to food security, building technical capacity, climate change and environmental impacts, and economic implications.

Food Security
The debate over the impact of bio-fuels production on food security raises the concern that bio-fuel production will affect food production by creating food scarcity, encourage high food prices, and compete for use of the soil’s natural resources. Concerns that from FAO data for 2001-2003, of the 853 million malnourished people in the world, 206 million are in sub-Saharan African countries imply that competition of food production with bio-fuel production will further exacerbate the access and availability of food. Bio-fuel advocates argue, though, that these problems can be mitigated through smart and effective policies that provide fair and equitable access to food, ensure availability, maintain stability in prices etc, and utilize the natural resources available and required for food production. A system that make use of land that is unused or unproductive, rotational crop production techniques, and improved agricultural processes for higher crop yields could also address these problems and challenges to food security.

Building technical capacity
As Africa is dominated by small subsistence farmers in rural areas, trained and knowledgeable farmers who utilize modern technology for agriculture production is deficient. Policies and actions that build on subsistence farmer collaborations, government agencies’ involvement, and infrastructure that supports small to large scale production of bio-fuels could be enacted. Also, increasing government funding for research and development, instituting a program body to coordinate, oversee, and regulate bio-fuel production, and promoting international collaboration to further enhance growth in this field is encouraged.

Climate Change and Environmental Impact:
The threat and danger of rapid deforestation to enhance bio-fuel production is an environmental concern. A case in Uganda reported in the dailies, detail how the government made a decision to lease land to developers to harvest sugar for bio-fuel purposes at the risk of destroying wildlife without regard of the effects on the indigenous communities. Local protests and public outcry did little to curtail these activities. But, with proper management and planning, under the certain policies certain crops can be grown and certain land used for bio-fuel production that will not result in huge deforestation, while also promoting healthy GHG emission levels and economic benefit.Economic

Underinvestment or overinvestment in bio-fuel production could be a problem for developing nation economies in Africa as it might significantly drain their budgets without returning benefits from investment. Studies show that in most oil-importing countries in Africa, like Guinea, the government spends up to 8% of GDP on oil subsidies due to the high oil prices, channeling these investments to bio-fuel production can bring economic benefits for rural development. Also, the challenge of unstable governments in developing countries further exacerbates insecure investment infrastructures and capital investment development. Policies and actions that encourage FDI with incentives, opening of the markets for competition, and guaranteeing secure investments could create new jobs, encourage investment, boost national revenues, and empower rural communities.

The problems and challenges that face bio-fuel development in Africa can be resolved or mitigated through proper management and strong policies. Africa stands at the threshold of success in this field as it is endowed with a wealth of natural resources, knowledge and technology ability, investment capability, and development opportunity to become a major player in the bio-fuel market. The further development of bio-fuels in Africa lies on the responsible and motivated leadership of African governments.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Derivatives, and Math

The New York Times reports that
George Soros, the prominent financier, avoids using the financial contracts known as derivatives “because we don’t really understand how they work.”
(Read More...)

Nor do I.

The world may be more curious in future to learn the true properties of derivatives, so that the knowledge can be applied to:
1. how they should be valued
2. what they evolve into over time, system wide
For a starter (non-mathematical), I liked Financial Derivatives and the Globalization of Risk (2004, by Edward LiPuma). The basic ideas were that world markets are more linked now, since derivatives got popular, and that we don't understand well how or how much.

Basically, Wall Street needs more mathematics.

The most important article I've read in ages is on the International Mathematics Olympiad. (Read the article.) The author decries that Math has is not embraced more by Americans.

Nigeria finally started running National Olympiads. The level of mathematics required to pass this exam is NOT AT ALL COMPARABLE to that required to tackle the International Competitions. Still, getting the channels/infrastructure for math competition in the country is a start.

It is very important for us to develop *excellent* engineers, technicians, and scientists. This, along with: 1. Power Supply and 2. Ensuring Wealth from Agriculture would be my priorities if I ran this part of the world ;)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fish farming gist

I was at the Launching of Aquaculture Best in Lagos in August. It's a trade magazine on raising fish. No, I'm not becoming a farmer (a cultivator of minds perhaps) but I'm surprised how many fish farmers I know. And now that I've moved into agricultural country in Adamawa's Upper Benue River Basin...

One plot of land, twice the food

Combined rice/fish cultivation is a highly efficient agricultural practice - yet its potential remains largely untapped
11 May 2005
For as long as there have been rice paddies, farmers have been capturing and raising fish in the water along with the rice. Indeed, few plant-animal combinations are more suited for growing together to improve nutrition and alleviate poverty, says a new book on the subject jointly published by FAO and the Malaysia-based World Fish Centre, Culture of Fish in Rice Fields.

This interview with one of the book's editors, FAO's Matthias Halwart, looks at the ways that rice/fish production contributes to food security in Asia -- and what potential the practice holds for other regions.

Q. What is rice/fish farming?

Basically, fish are raised in a flooded rice field and farmers harvest both the fish and the rice. But while the term "rice/fish" is often thought to refer only to the simultaneous culture of rice and fish in one paddy, it in fact includes other methods, like the rotational system, where a crop of rice is followed by one of fish, or systems in which fish are raised in ponds adjacent to the rice, with water resources shared between the two. It's an extremely efficient way of using the same land to produce both carbohydrates, in the grain, and animal protein, in the fish.

Q. Are there other advantages?

Well, to feed the fish you can simply rely on the aquatic plants and animals naturally occurring in the field. Supplemental feed doesn't have to be purchased -- it's often agricultural by-products normally found on a farm -- vegetable matter, manure, etc.

And the fish help control weeds by eating or uprooting them, and also feed on insect and snail pests. Interestingly, pesticide use on rice/fish farms is greatly reduced, if not eliminated. Although this is motivated by wanting to protect the investment in the fish, it really is a good practice both for farmers and the environment because scientific evidence shows that in nearly all cases insecticides are not needed in tropical irrigated rice.

The fish may also play an important role in the nutrient cycle of the rice field, increasing its fertility while reducing fertilizer requirements.

Q. What does this mean for farmers and their families?

The practice has great potential for food security and poverty alleviation, especially in more remote areas.

Adding fish to the field not only results in new yields of fish protein and reduced input costs -- it actually produces better yields of grain. The book cites several studies that illustrate how this plays out. In Bangladesh, the net return from rice/fish farms was over 50% greater than in rice monoculture. In China, the increase ranged from 45 to 270%, and growing fish with rice was almost three times more profitable than just growing rice alone.

There are less obvious benefits, too.

Q. Such as?

A wet rice field has a surprisingly great biodiversity, which is a rich source of edible organisms. One study in Thailand found that one vegetable and 16 different animal species were being harvested in a single rice field. Another in Cambodia reported that over 100 different plant and animal species -- for example, shrimp, crabs, shellfish, turtles, frogs, even insects and snakes -- are being collected by farmers and used in rural households for food or medicine. All these rice-associated aquatic species are important for the nutrition of rural people, containing proteins, minerals and fatty acids essential for a balanced diet.

Q. Despite the benefits, this practice is still largely limited to Asia...

That's right. The adoption of rice/fish farming has been low, for various reasons -- even in Asia. China has 1.2 million hectares used for rice/fish farming, but that is less than four percent of its irrigated land area. In other parts of Asia, perhaps only one percent of irrigated land is being used this way. One exception is Madagascar, with almost 12% of rice land being integrated with fish. And other countries, for example Guyana and Suriname, are now making efforts to popularize this integration.

Q. Why isn't rice/fish farming more widespread?

A rice field is by design intended for rice production, and conditions are not always optimum for fish, so shifting over requires work -- and investment. You need to increase the height of dikes, dig trenches and ponds, construct weirs and methods for moving water, add fish screens. That's one hurdle.

And policymakers haven't really appreciated its potential. Rice/fish farming is often considered a novelty that does not merit consideration in national rice production strategies. In our book we conclude that a fundamental shift in attitudes towards rice/fish farming in the traditional rice production sector is required.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ki lo n happen? Lifestyle report from Nigeria

Hi all, I've been in Nigeria for over a week now. Based in Lagos for the next month and elsewhere in Nigeria for the next year ;) Also spent a few days in Abuja - the administrative capital of Nigeria since 1991. It was my first time in Abuja since December 1995.

What do you want to know?

In my eyes, Lagos has changed even visibly for the better. Enjoying this trip more than usual. All that extra oil money going to turn some frowns upsidedown.

Abuja is a city now - close to a million people. When I last visited 12 1/2 years ago, the capital was two hotels and highways and gorgeous landscape. Seriously romantic it was ;)

The Pursuit of HappyNess, Chris Gardner, is going to be in Nigeria next weekend. You watched the movie, right? The wealthy motivational speaker will be conecting with Naija and promoting his book of the same name.
It's all happening close to home in Lagos on the 1st of August, and at the Abuja Sheraton on the 2nd of August. Just had to tell you right away.

I just read my second copy of True Love West Africa ever. Bought it 'cos I noticed a friend's name on the cover. What can I say? Get a subscription. It's good stuff.

If Lagos is the financial capital of Nigeria, and Abuja is the administrative capital, where is the technology capital? I'm working on building it, so stay tuned. P.S. come on over.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Isn't it the truth?

This book is 13 years old, the message in it has become more popular now, yet read it to see how the current world of work is changing and must change...
"Our measures of growth are deeply flawed in that they are purely measures of activity in the monetized economy. Expanded use of cigarettes and alcohol increases economic output both as a direct consequence of their consumption and because of the related increase in health care needs...It is now well documented that in the United States and a number of other countries the quality of living of ordinary people has been declining as aggregate economic output increases."

Closely related to these ideas is YES! Magazine

Monday, June 30, 2008

I have to see for myself what I'm selling

To lead a products company successfully, you can go to business school, or you can just read this EMAIL RANT BY BILL GATES. Comments?

This is a good time to recommend a couple of excellent little products I've noticed. We take the big ones for granted, of course, Google, Microsoft (I LOVE Clip Art, and those document templates for writing letters, resumes and all that)...

The first is Weebly. Make a free website. Site looks nice. No ads.
The second is cbox. Nice clean chatbox/shoutbox on your webpages. Customize colour, size, etc. No user logins or payment required.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Where the rich folks at?

World now has 10 million millionaires
North America is still home to the most millionaires, with a third of the world’s wealthiest, but their ranks are growing fastest in Brazil, China and India. By the Associated Press. (Read More...)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Much Respect to Dubai

The Da Vinci Tower (also known as Dynamic Architecture Building) is a proposed 313 m (1,027 ft), 68-floor tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The tower is expected to be architecturally innovative for several reasons. Uniquely, each floor will be able to rotate independently. This will result in a constantly changing shape of the tower. Each floor will rotate a maximum of one full rotation in 90 minutes. The entire tower will be powered from turbines and solar panels, and five other buildings in the vicinity will also be provided with electricity. The turbines will be located between each of the rotating floors. They will generate 1,200,000 kilowatt-hours of energy from the movement of the floors, and the solar panels will be located on the roof. Construction of the Da Vinci Tower is expected to be completed in 2009.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brain Drain? Try again.

Beyond brain drain

Human capital increasingly votes with its feet

The shift of workers abroad used to be called “brain drain”. But Manpower argues that this scarcely captures the complexity today's increasingly globalised “market for talent”. It proposes a lexicon of no less than six categories of brain mobility.

Along with brain drain, which is when a country loses more educated brains than it can replace, there is the even more negative “brain waste”: when people go abroad to do work that pays better but is less skilled than what they would do at home.

Brain export” is the more positive version of drain and waste. This happens when educated workers leave their home countries but more than pay for their absence through remittances, technology transfer and boosting their native countries' workforce when they return.

Brain globalisation” is simply the recognition that international mobility of skilled human capital is now an integral part of life in multinational companies and the global economy. “Brain circulation” refers to skilled workers moving between countries to ply their trade. “Brain exchange” is when multinational firms move skilled workers between their operations in different countries—having cosmopolitan workers, especially executives, is increasingly seen as a competitive advantage in leading global companies. (More...)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

50,000 Megawatts

Expect state of emergency declaration in power sector by July, President Yar’Adua assures

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua announced on Friday June 13 in Paris that his Administration will formally declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s power sector next month.

Responding to concerns expressed by prospective French investors over current power supply problems in Nigeria, President Yar’Adua said that under the emergency which will be in force for three years, the Federal and state governments will set aside Five Billion Dollars for the rehabilitation and expansion of Nigeria’s power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure.

The President told the gathering of French businessmen that after the three-year emergency period, Nigeria’s generation and distribution infrastructure will be privatised while its transmission infrastructure will remain under the control of a state-owned company.

He said that Nigeria will seek additional financing from international finance institutions for the rehabilitation and expansion of its power infrastructure, adding that his Administration intended to establish a proper foundation for the increment of Nigeria’s power generation capacity to about 50,000 megawatts by the year 2020. More...


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wanna ride another housing bubble?

You've always wanted to buy and own a home...Now IS the time.
The US has seen the worst of the downturn and the bulls will soon be charging again. In a few years people will be flippin' those houses like they never even heard of the 2007 sub-prime meltdown.
The next housing bubble starts now. Do you have any research supporting or disproving this? Post a comment.

Monday, June 09, 2008

What's your Money Personality?


By Brent Kessel, MSN Money

In my experience, the people who are happiest with their relationship to money are fairly balanced among most, if not all, of these archetypes. But the reality is that most people have one or two dominant archetypes that keep them stuck with unsatisfying financial habits.

One of the areas where our dominant archetypes can create the most damage is investing. For example, the Guardian prefers ultraconservative assets such as certificates of deposit and bonds, and can tend to trade too much to avoid losses. My advice for such a personality: Create a long-term investment plan that requires little meddling, and stick to it.

Or take the Star. When it comes to investing, he or she chooses assets because they're in vogue, such as tech stocks in the late 1990s, real estate and hedge funds more recently or "green" companies for the future. For such a personality, I advise investing 90% of his or her net worth in a "boring," disciplined portfolio and only 10% in a "cocktail party" account, so he or she still has investments to brag about.

Our dominant archetypes can change over time, especially with guidance.

"For many years, my focus was on building my business and savings, to the point of not really taking the time to fully enjoy or share the fruits of my success," says Abacus client John Baudhuin, a co-founder of fitness company Spinning, which developed the group-cycling program used by 35,000 gyms worldwide.

"But in recent years, I've shifted some of the emphasis from the Saver and Empire Builder to the Pleasure Seeker and Caretaker, and my life is more balanced as a result. For example, I started a family and splurged on a high-performance car I never would have considered buying even a few years ago."

Baudhuin's story shows how emphasizing the money types we've been neglecting can lead to greater financial fulfillment.

Read the rest of the article to find your money personality.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

On the environment and CO2 Capture.

How to stop global warming? CO2 "scrubbers," a new book says
By Kenneth R. Fletcher, Smithsonian magazine, June 2008

Wallace Broecker, of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, first warned in the 1970s that the earth would warm because of a buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases released by burning fossil fuels. In his new book, Fixing Climate (co-authored by Robert Kunzig), Broecker, 76, argues that we must not only reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) but also remove it from the atmosphere on a massive scale to avert environmental ruin. He is an unpaid adviser to Global Research Technologies, a Tucson firm developing devices to capture CO2 from the air.

By the 1970s, you already believed that CO2 from emissions was causing global warming.
Looking at the earth's past climate told me that the earth is very sensitive to changes. It concerned me that as we warmed the planet we were heading into unknown territory. I've convinced myself that it is going to be absolutely necessary to capture and bury CO2. The best way to do that is to take it directly out of the atmosphere.

How do you "fix" climate?
We need something that can be manufactured, like air conditioners or cars, by the millions. Each day, a unit would take about a ton of CO2 out of the atmosphere, liquefy it and send it out through pipes to wherever it's going to be stored. The developers are now envisioning a device about 6 to 10 feet in diameter, 50 feet high. It would be like a little silo, in that shape so the wind could blow through it from any direction.

CO2 emissions are going up faster than the highest scenarios. Developing nations are going gangbusters using fossil fuels, so they are eclipsing any savings that the rich nations are making. At some point we are going to have to get tough about it. There is going to be a demand to bring the CO2 level back down again because of the environmental damage it's doing. The only way to do that would be with this sort of device.

How many devices would be needed?
Each of us in America is responsible for generating about 20 tons of CO2 a year. So I suppose roughly 17 million scrubbers would take care of the United States. Worldwide, we'd need a lot more. On a long time scale the rich nations can do more than just stop or neutralize their own emissions. They can also neutralize some of what was done in the past.

The scrubbers don't have to be near the source of pollution?
No. They can be put anywhere. The units would operate best at low humidity and would be best deployed in deserts.

What happens to all the CO2 the scrubbers take out of the air?
There are many places to store it. The most obvious is the saline aquifers that are under every continent. Ultimately, I think we'll want to put CO2 into the deep sea. We at Columbia are exploring with Icelanders the possibility of injecting CO2 dissolved in water into basaltic terrains that make up the earth's mantle, to combine the CO2 with magnesium and convert it into a mineral. One has to figure out a clever way to do this without using a lot of energy.

Of course, this whole thing has been a race against time. We have done relatively little since 1975, when I first became really concerned about climate change. People say Kyoto was a great accomplishment. It trimmed production of CO2 a bit, but it's just one percent of the solution. We've got a huge distance to go.

Is this safe?
We're going to have to prove that. People aren't going to want CO2 underneath their houses unless they can be assured that it's not going to come back in any violent way. I think it would be easier to convince people that putting it in the deep sea is safe.

We have to do something. Otherwise we're going to have a very hot planet and the environmental damage is going to be huge. Any solution is going to have its own environmental consequences. We have to make sure those are very small compared to the consequences of doing nothing.

What about alternative energy sources?
I don't think anybody believes that alternatives will supply the energy we'll need. The long-term solution is solar electricity. But it is far too expensive—there have to be breakthroughs. If they were to occur in the next 10 or 20 years, great, we could put the whole CO2-capture idea on the shelf. But we have to develop that technology, because it looks right now like solar energy is not going to become affordable in that time scale. We are going to need some way to bail ourselves out.

We have enough coal to run the planet for several hundred years. We could make gasoline out of coal for the equivalent of $50 a barrel. People are not going to use solar energy if it costs 10 times more than energy derived from coal. We are not putting enough resources into developing the technology to capture and store carbon. Everybody is worried about carbon footprints as if that is a solution. It's not. It is important, I'm not putting that down, but conservation in itself can't do it. The world has to run on energy.

How would we pay for the carbon scrubbers?
Whenever carbon is taken out of the ground in whatever form, some sort of tax would be paid. Ultimately there would be a smooth system. Carbon is taken out, a price is paid and that money goes to companies that are burying it. Of course, the transition from nothing into this huge enterprise is very complicated. An enormous amount of work has to be done.

With all of the greenhouse gases being produced, could capturing and storing really put a dent in climate change?
It would have to. Otherwise why do it? Most of us think that by the year 2070 we need to have a carbon-neutral planet. We can no longer increase the CO2 content of the atmosphere. But poor people on the planet are going to want to have a decent standard of living. To have a decent standard of living requires energy. Just take China. Their energy use is going to go way up. China has coal, so they burn coal. The temptation is going to be to go to a coal economy. Every time we create some CO2 we have to take the equivalent amount out and bury it. To capture and bury all the CO2 we're going to be producing is something like $600 billion a year for the world.

Do you think the world is ready for millions of CO2 scrubbers?
No, I don't think so. Not yet. People are really concerned about CO2 that's true. But I don't think most people realize how tough a problem it is and what's really involved. The awareness doesn't extend to the tough decisions that are going to have to be made by the world if we are going to ever rein this thing in.

Are you optimistic?
I'm an optimist, but I wish I was a little bit younger and could see how this thing really plays out over the next 50 or 60 years. It will be the major issue in the world for a long, long time.

As the world seriously warms, the realization that we have to do something is going to become ever more intense. Clearly something is happening.

About the Company: Global Research Technologies
Related Books: Fixing Climate: What Past Climate Changes Reveal About the Current Threat--and How to Counter It by Wallace Broecker and Robert Kunzig

Friday, May 30, 2008

Question about Middle East Business News Link


ameinfo or ArabianBusiness?
Our Middle East Business link has been for years. It's nice, but I just discovered which is also nice. Please look and see which you prefer and leave it as a comment. Thank you.

Nigeria Business News
Our Nigeria Business link , Business Day Online seems cool, although it has this new dialog box that pops up strangely. If you have a better Nigeria Business site in mind, please comment.

Do you have a suggestion about who should advertise on Money Talk pages this year? Comment please.

It's been 3 years of Money Talk goodness. Lovely getting to know you. Let's do more of that...get and share ideas and support on money, career, business, and economic development. Think for a moment about what should improve over the next year, and please post your suggestion.

Friends Talk Money
Don't forget to share Money Talk with your friends. Add to your Facebook Notes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

OLPC in Nigeria: One Laptop Per Child

They're really laptops, and I want some. On the website, there are testimonials by Nigerian children users. You can donate here to OLPC ($200 = 1 laptop to a child)

As for actually getting one, their site is driving me crazy...I'm like where's the shop, the "pay" button? Only God much talk, just sell the things.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nigerian Economy

Summary of Nigeria's economy currently on wikipedia.
The currency unit of Nigeria is the Nigerian Naira.

Years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement have hampered economic activity and output in Nigeria and continue to do so, despite the restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reform. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Bank, Nigerian GDP at purchasing power parity was only at $170.7 billion as of FY 2005. The GDP per head is at $692.

Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of the GDP. It is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves and the country was also a founding member of OPEC. However, due to crumbling infrastructure, corruption, and ongoing civil strife in the Niger Delta, its main oil producing region, oil production and export is not at 100% capacity.

Mineral resources that are present in Nigeria but not yet fully exploited are coal and tin. Other natural resources in the country include iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, and arable land.[35] Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry in Nigeria is almost non-existent. About 60% of Nigerians are employed in the agricultural sector. Agriculture used to be the principal foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. Perhaps, one of the most daunting ramifications of the discovery of oil was the decline of agricultural sector. So tragic was this neglect that Nigeria, which in the 1960s grew 98% of his own food and was a net food exporter, now must import much of the same cash crops it was formerly famous for as the biggest exporter. Agricultural products include groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa, coconut, citrus fruits, maize, pearl millet, cassava, yams and sugar cane. It also has a booming leather and textile industry, with industries located in Kano, Abeokuta, Onitsha, and Lagos.

Like many Third World nations, Nigeria accumulated a significant foreign debt. Many of the projects financed by these debts were inefficient, bedeviled by corruption or failed to live up to expectations. Eventually, Nigeria defaulted on its principal debt repayments as arrears and penalty interest accumulated and increased the size of the debt. However, after a long campaign by the Nigeria authorities, in October 2005 Nigeria and its Paris Club creditors reached an agreement that reduced Nigeria's debt by approximately 60%. Nigeria used part of its oil windfall to pay the residual 40%, freeing up at least $1.15 billion annually for poverty reduction programmes. As of April 2006, Nigeria became the first African Country to fully pay off her debt (estimated $30billion) owed to the Paris Club.

Nigeria also has significant production and manufacturing facilities such as factories for the French car manufacturer Peugeot, the English truck manufacturer Bedford, now a subsidiary of General Motors. Nigeria also manufactures t-shirts and processed food.
Does this country need a gameplan? Does anybody still use the term "Third World?" Is this article crap?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Portable MP3 players

Why do people happily pay loads of cash for the i-things (iPod, iPhone,...?) It's not the sound quality or skip resistance, not that white earphones are better than black ones, or that ppl love to shuffle their little mp3 files.
It's just the "cool", the marketing. Right?
I guess Steve Jobs is the master of razzle-dazzle. Who else rocks at this game?

Slowly learning to add flash to substance are the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) people, led by Nick Negroponte and in need of a "selling" genius. Maybe they'll succeed.

I want an OLPC, or three, or ten.
I don't really want an i-whatever (except at the clearance sale prices)
At the moment Apple will sell you a walkman or a phone for money that OLPC wishes you would pay for the whole computer.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

About Goals: setting goals, tracking goals, and staying motivated

You know how when you achieve one thing, it seems to roll into a next goal? Like after you make your first million, say, then you want to serve the most people or make your first billion or whatever.

So I'm wondering, after you achieve one thing, should you stop and really celebrate and enjoy it, or should you promptly march on to the next big thing?

What's the more optimal way to work: stop and go, or keep running?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Africa is ripe for Biomass

[Nairobi, Kenya]
WELL, I'M back on the blogging scene...sort of. While I've been absent from cyber space off and on for a multitude of reasons (lousy Internet access, getting burnt out from writing, political "challenges", etc.) my interests have shifted to investigating/researching things (producing electricity via biomass/biodiesel, ecobuilding with hemp, building durable roads with cheap termite technology, etc.) where the outcome could have huge implications for East African society.

Money doe$ grow on tree$...
Although a good living can be made from growing cannabis, coca leaves, opium and other "controversial" crops, an increasing number of farmers around the world - especially Africa - are seeking economic prosperity via biomass/biodiesel crops. :-) This, to me, is exciting because so many positive benefits arise from this act. Here are just a few of those benefits taken from a business plan that I wrote recently for
a dear Kenyan friend of mine regarding an upcoming green farming initiative:

Promotes Self Sufficiency
MGO is keen to assist rural communities in becoming self sufficient. This can be achieved by growing energy crops that can provide biodiesel/biomass to power engines or generate electricity. Money will be saved from buying expensive oil imports, and by reducing dependency from an unreliable electrical grid. This is already happening in some rural communities in India where regional economies are flourishing. For example, the waste from jatropha biodiesel extraction can be used to create soaps, dyes, organic fertilizer, rodent repellent, and a host of other beneficial products. Also, a cheap efficient water treatment solution is readily available from the seeds of the nutritious moringa oliefera plant. This solution is comparable to expensive unnatural alternatives, and allows the community to save on precious foreign exchange.

Another road to self sufficiency is by encouraging cassava farming. It should be noted that there has never been a famine in West Africa because of cassava’s durable drought resistant personality. This is unlike maize here in East Africa, which requires ample rainfall. A perfect example of too much dependency on maize took place in 2005 where severe droughts in Kenya lead to rampant food shortages in rural communities. This resulted in the needless deaths of many people, and precious livestock. However, if farmers had planted an alternative crop like cassava at that time, there would have been minimal to zero deaths from starvation. Thus a reliable supply of cassava translates into a better staple food option that can feed the masses in times of famine.

Better Land Utilization
We know that it’s deplorable to substitute rich, fertile land for growing food with biomass/biodiesel plants. However, a better policy involves promoting energy crops that thrive in arid to semi-arid regions. This is a win/win situation for society and creates the possibility that this unusable land will be rejuvenated in the future due to the positive effects (alleviates soil degradation, desertification and deforestation) of plants like jatropha, pongamia and moringa. Executing this strategy is a top priority for MGO.

Job Creation
Without a doubt, numerous long term direct and indirect jobs will be created once MGO’s green farming solutions are implemented everywhere – especially in depressed rural communities. These new crops will provide a means to create a vibrant eco-friendly economy that will cater to a large untapped domestic market. Additional employment will be created in order to meet the demand for biodiesel, moringa, cassava flour and a host of other products derived from executing green farming strategies.

For example, new jobs will be created for transporters, local farmers and laborers by encouraging the production of the West African staple food,
gari, which is cassava-based. This will inject much needed currency into the local market while improving the quality of life in areas where production takes place. Most importantly, one of MGO’s stated objectives is to “create jobs in poor and rural areas.” Unquestionably, this will result in reduced criminal activity in over-populated urban centers since the rationale to move from economically stagnant rural communities is diminished.

Thanks HASH...
After peeking the blog of my good Net pal, WhiteAfrican (aka Rick Hersman, aka HASH), I was motivated to write this piece for Money Talk, which is headed by my other good Net pal, Tosin (aka T). Let's just say HASH is one of the most Net-savvy dudes I've ever met. He eat, sleeps, drinks, and thinks web/mobile technologies/applications 365/24/7.

Most importantly, he's focused on making them work for Africa and he, somehow, always seems to be dialed into kool events/conferences or happenings relating to anything and everything to do with Africa, technology and the Net. Sometimes I'm amazed at how quickly he generates content on all his web endeavours. Yo HASH, sloooow down dude! :-)

Anyhow, I saw the above AfriGadget link in the widget section of HASH's blog and so, being a prolific Internet Whore, I clicked it. :-) I urge you all to take a peek too. BTW, HASH is one of the resident editors at AfriGadget, which is simply "a website dedicated to showcasing African ingenuity."

Related links:

Monday, April 28, 2008

What Shall We Do Today?


They have sent medicines to Nigeria, including Gbagada. They also housed Hurricane Katrina victims, and other projects in Honduras and India.

I can recommend this foundation because I know Lara, Dr. Adejumo, roommate from Secondary School, so whatever she's doing is 100% top-class.

Read more at the website.

Thanks a million. Post your own favourite or 100% certified charity someday too, will you?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Conspiracy Theories and Expanding Global Market

Talking about the new focus on Africa, my favorite conspiracy know we geeks love these stuff..even though we should know better. It got little to do with economics and a lot to do with Geeks. Just hoping to add fun to the blog today. Enjoy

N.B: Check this out, speaking of conspiracy why does this site come up when I type this blog address wrongly, two alphabets and see where it takes you



What do I think of the video above? Well, let us just say that David Rockefeller's globalist credentials is not in doubt, and the media attempt and blatant spread of misinformation to spread falsehood like the WMD in Iraq is by now legendary. Guess what tho... geeks also think too much. LOL

Monday, April 14, 2008

Somebody's about to make a lot of money

Zoellick said he had received positive feedback for his proposal to have sovereign wealth funds -- huge pools of capital controlled by governments -- invest one percent of their resources in Africa. He said this could provide $30 billion to African growth.

He said the bank was following up on the proposal in discussions with countries that have sovereign wealth funds, mainly in Asia and the Middle East, through the International Finance Corporation, the bank's private sector arm.

"Hunger, malnutrition and food policy have formed a recurrent theme at this weekend's meetings, and I believe that we have made progress," Zoellick said. "But it will be important to continue to retain the focus on this as we leave Washington."

Source: This CNN Money article about world food prices.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Funny but True US visa news

More Training for Foreign Students
Immigration officials said they were extending the duration of on-the-job training for immigrant students who are recent graduates with advanced degrees in science, technology and engineering. The training period will be extended to 29 months from 12 months for immigrants on student visas employed in jobs related to their field of study. Training will also be automatically extended for students who are waiting to shift to temporary work visas known as H-1B. The measure, which officials said would benefit about 25,000 students, is designed to close visa gaps that had forced some highly skilled graduates to leave the country.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Cheap Date Guide

Seriously, has it come to this? :)
In Dating during a recession, the author writes tips like:
Flash a coupon. Think about it: If a restaurant really wanted you to use that 25%-off coupon, would they demand that you show it to your waiter, in full view of your date, the instant you sit down? Still, coupons can be a good way to have your dating cake and eat it too, especially if you can wave them at the maitre d’ when your gal pal isn’t looking. (You can also be honest and suggest trying a particular restaurant because you happen to have the coupon. I don’t recommend this, but some people insist it works.)
Other suggestions: cook dinner together, sample some ethnic cuisine, rent a movie ... I guess I do these already ... move in together, skip the reception ... you lost me there, what's the point of a wedding without a reception ;)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Teach me about the internet

I just read this story (via valleywag) about someone wiring low-income housing projects in San Fran, so that now they'll have way speedier internet connection than even the rich folk.

It's been years now since we've been talking here and we agree that you've gotta have internet, I mean it's one of the basic human needs ;)
...but why is it still so slow and Nigeria, even in Egypt? Who knows about this web network thing - teach us something we don't know.
Internet in Naija should be abundant, free-flowing - more like oil and less like blood diamonds.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cool for School

Does Your Major Matter?
"Our results imply that given a student's ability, achievement and effort, his or her earnings do not vary all that greatly with the choice of undergraduate major."
"Now, to be fair, they do vary greatly by two things:" Read the entire article here. It has a nugget for everybody - pre-uni, working, and parents too.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

What could be more inspiring?

NaNoWriMo (November)
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. More at

FAWM (February)
February Album Writing Month
Write 14 songs in 29 days
What are you waiting for ... inspiration?
Want to join other songwriters in a fun, high-velocity learning experience? Challenge yourself to write 14 songs this February. At FAWM.ORG, songwriters can track their progress, choose to post MP3s and lyrics, be inspired by fellow participants, give and receive comments, and talk in the forums. More at

Let's get manic.
Find an internet connection, quit normal life for a month, and join in. Tell us if you opt for this madness :) and tell us how it goes.

Do you know any more like this?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

"I am doing very well and I owe society"

Although his bank balance is still a fraction of one percent of Warren Buffett's ;) this 21-year old (guess who?) just launched his foundation to help the less privileged in his home country and maybe later the world.
Never too young...

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

How aircraft are converted into spoons and pots

Published: Wednesday, 5 Mar 2008

That shiny aluminium pot sitting on your stove is probably much more travelled than you are. Indeed, it could have clocked thousands of kilometres flying to various destinations worldwide when it served a more high profile role as part of a commercial jetliner.

Skip to next paragraph
click to expand image

Aircraft being dismantled at the ‘graveyard’, Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos. Inset: pot and spoons

Just like other types of equipment, aircraft do not last forever. They must be grounded permanently one day either because they are no longer airworthy, after completing the maximum number of pressurisation cycles (take-off-flight-landing), which the airframe can take, or they are no longer economical to operate.

A typical Boeing 737 will fly 75,000 pressuriation cycles or 51,000 hours, which is equivalent to 20 years of active service. Bigger aircraft on long-haul routes, which experience relatively lower numbers pressurisation cycles, will last longer.

However, on retirement, such aircraft are confined to the “graveyard” or converted to other uses.

Investigations by our correspondent reveal that disused aircraft are sold as scrap to dealers who strip the usable parts for resale. They hack the aluminium airframe (body) to small pieces to be melted down for conversion to spoons, pots and industrial moulds for small-scale factories

A visit to the “graveyard” at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos revealed a strange and tiresome, though lucrative operation dominated by a Filipino, who declined to reveal his name.

Labourers worked with axes in sweltering heat to deconstruct what was once several millions of dollars worth of technology.

Most of the aircraft that have been buried there belonged to Nigeria Airways. Others have the markings of ADC Airlines and other local carriers that had funding troubles.

A supervisor, who spoke on condition of anonymity said, “When we buy aircraft like this, we dismantle them, send the re-useable parts to overseas for re-certification and benchmarking (to see if they could be reused as spares on other airplanes), while the metal frames are sold to metal dealers who in turn sell them to local users that melt them down.

“Most of these frames, you are seeing being dismantled, after passing through series of processes, end up at the workshop of some local spoon and pot manufacturers, mostly in Sango Ota area of Ogun State.”

He said that when the serviceable parts had been removed, the metal frame would sell for between N1.2m and N1.5m.

The metal frame, is usually bought by some local dealers who engage labourers to help in dismantling them under the supervision of some aircraft technicians.

The pieces, according to the technician supervising the dismantling, are resold to sub-dealers, who in turn take them to either locally made furnace made by blacksmith or modern technology-built furnace owned by aluminium companies in the country for melting.

Interestingly, dealership market is principally controlled by a Filipino-Nigerian who in turn sells the dismantled aircraft to the sub-dealers who takes them to furnaces.

The Philipinos-Nigerian, who declined to mention his name, said his clients include businessmen from all over the country.

He added that some of the sub-dealers take them to modern furnaces where they would be melt and sold to sandalsmanufacturing companies owned by Chinese, Indian and Lebanese, which were mostly located in Ilasa and Matori in Lagos, and other parts of the country.

These companies, he said used the aluninium to manufacture moulds for sandals.

One of the workers with the Philipinos, who identified himself as Adamu said, a local furnace located behind the Gatan Kowa market, around Abule Egba area of Lagos was a centre where most local spoons and pots manufacture around Sango-Ota area come to buy melted crude aluminium ingots.

Traders also buy the ingots, which are sent to other parts of the country, especially Kano, while some are exported to Mali, Chad and other neigbouring countries.

Meanwhile, the Media Assistant, Chanchangi Airlines, Mr. Adamu Muhammed, said his organisation, in compliance with the current government fleet renewal policy, had decided to sell all its ageing aircraft, while new ones had been ordered. The first batch, he said would be due before March.

He, however, stated that, one of its old aircraft was sold about two years ago to an aluminium company in Kaduna for N500,000.

Mr. Warri Achurefe, an Air Traffic Controller, said while such disused aircraft were sometimes put in museums abroad, old aircraft had been converted to restaurants in France, Italy and South Africa.

The Director, Raztuns Company, Lagos, Mr. Ademigbuji Adetunji, a supplier of aluminium materials, said aircraft metal bodies were taken to aluminium companies in the country who posses the advanced technology furnace used in melting the dismantled aluminium frames into ingots

He said some of the ingots were also used for manufacturing baking pans for bakery owners.

He, however, explained that because of the presence of manganese and other alloys, it was not fit for other uses like window metal frames.

A large proportion of the aluminium frames are sold to smelters at the Gatan Kowa market, which is more known for used clothing.

A dealer, who identified himself as Idris, from Kebbi States, said he had been in the business since 1990. He said he had about three furnaces inside the a very expansive compound where all manners of activities were taking place.

A kilogramme of an aircraft frame, Idris says, sells for about N80, depending on whether it is Russian-made aircraft, which were usually made of pure metals. Frames made from a mixture of aluminium and fibre command a lower price.

Idris explained that after the frames are melted down and recast as ingots, they are sold for N140,000 per tonne.

He stated that sometimes, the dealers went as far as Delta State to purchase unserviceable aircraft for melting and resold.

He said that melting was always done in the night between 7pm and 7am, a period, which would be sufficient for the process to attain completion.

He revealed that the solid molten metals were bought by local pot and spoon manufacturers and some Indians who export them to their country.

Idris said that the amount they purchase the aircraft depend on the type, whether it was DC-10, or 737, 727 or others.

Mallam Abdulkaoje Bello, a dealer who resides at Abule Egba, said he had been in the business for long and he was always making profit from the venture.

Bello said he usually carried the molten metals to Sokoto to sell to local spoon and pot manufacturers.


Friday, February 29, 2008

Passion, in two stories

Nearly skipped a month here at upnaira, first time since May 2005. As we're not to let that happen :) I'm taking advantage of this extra special last day of February to write a February post. Two stories for you. Hey, you should write too.

Well, the first story is that I made a list of the three things I love and don't love at my new job.

The DON'T LOVE list:

- one had to do with how people sat at the office, basically the foreigners and locals being on separate floors, and that has already changed for the better, since it's a startup company and always changing :)

the other two are de rigeur for most jobs,

- doing eight hours a day,

- the threat of "employee evaluation"

The LOVE list:

- (don't laugh) cool chair, clean office, stuff like that


- the people, especially the army of developers, are really professional AND warm. Please don't be jealous.

Anyway, check out the don't love list and see that I'm screwed, it seems I REALLY don't like working much. Although I'm getting used to not being as free as a wild horse, it may not last very long. Please write your comments.

And check out the love list and see that I never even mentioned the *work* - job type or industry. It's an important job at a cool company in an interesting industry - software and web applications. One really should do better in terms of matching a job to his/her passion. I'm working on this.

At least I finally made it to the right continent ;) I work in Egypt.

The second story is about my dear country. I was in Lagos in January.

On the island, you will find prices have risen to match US prices. Example, I found accomodation (likely geared to expatriates) that you could rent for 20,000 Naira. Per day. It's not a palace, just a clean one or two bedroom flat in Lekki.
I also checked out the Motherless Babies place. You can support them with tiny donations anytime, and if you want to go bigger, you can pay a child's school fees at 55,000 Naira per term.
Compare with the prices when you went to school? Exchange rates were around 125 Naira to 1 dollar.

Because of all these changes, the price inflation, the construction and ubiquitous road building, the super-expensive shopping you could find at the mall, the rush of bankers and banking, people having so many cell phones, I thought that maybe the economy had improved, that things were getting better.
Ehn, no. Whatever, great Zenith bank! There's still a lot of room for the Nigerian economy to improve, and the way to measure it is how the sand-carrying guys are doing.
There are these people that carry sand on the banks, you'll see them at the lagoons if you pay attention. Sometimes, they're quite deformed from the huge pans of sand they carry on their heads back and forth from a canoe to put in a pile maybe ten meters away. (They're really strong too, they should model?) In a good economy, there would be no room for this kind of employment, shuffling sand around. They would have graduated to working next door in the large construction project maybe feeding the cement mixing machines or something. That's what I hoped. Sadly, they are still there. The sand arrives in large canoes, which they start to empty one pan at a time. Then buyers arrive with lorries and they bend down (AGAIN) and load the lorries one pan at a time. You don't need to be a process engineer to see how inefficient this is, and what does it say about the worth of labour that such a foolish process survives for years?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Lagos roads: Night operators of a useful kind

Lagos roads: Night operators of a useful kind
By Akinpelu Dada
Published: Friday, 18 Jan 2008

Mathew Popoola typifies the resolve of some Nigerians survive on little resources, no matter the odds.


When many are sleeping soundly in their homes, Popoola and his colleagues are in the cold, dark night battling the elements and the risk of being knocked down by careless and drunken drivers to clean up the Lagos metropolis, which has the reputation of being among the dirtiest in the world.

They are equally at the mercy of street urchins popularly called ‘area boys’ and armed robbers, who sometimes mistake them for security agents. Yet, they are undaunted by the many risks.

An Ordinary National Diploma certificate holder, Popoola carries out his job with a bright face. Every evening at around 8.00pm, he and his other colleagues gather at a designated point to be briefed by their manager on how the night’s operation would be conducted.

Usually, about four men are attached to a truck and their routine involves going through all the streets in a designated neighbourhood to evacuate wastes dropped by the residents. After completing the evacuation, they will then transport the load to the landfill site. All these take place before the early risers hit the roads.

Popoola seems unfazed by people’s perception of his job, noting that his monthly salary of about N20,000 is just enough to meet his immediate needs, though he could do with better remuneration.

He said, “I opted for this job because there are no other things to do. The economic situation in the country has made it difficult for one to get better jobs.

“I am okay with the salary because it is better than staying at home and not getting anything. I was working in a bakery for my OND. When I came back, the owner of the bakery couldn’t employ me again. So, I was jobless for a while until I got this offer from the Lagos State Waste Management Authority.”

One of the major challenges being faced by the workers, according to him, is the condition of the roads leading into the dumpsites, especially during the rainy season.

While others stayed indoors and enjoyed the sumptuous meals associated with the Eid-el-Kabir and Christmas celebrations, he was busy with his colleagues busy during the period doing what they knew best.

Throughout the festive period, regular and ad-hoc staff of the LAWMA were busy carting away heaps of refuse from households and road medians for onward transportation to waste dumps and landfill sites.

While it is not unusual to see street sweepers, Private Sector Participants in waste management and LAWMA operatives carting away refuse during the day time, many residents had wondered what some refuse workers were doing at night.

The Manager in charge of Surulere Zone of LAWMA, Mr. Essien Nsuabia, said that his job was to supervise, coordinate and manage resources at his disposal to ensure the cleanliness of the local government and its appealing aesthetics.

Night operations, according to him, effectively begin at around 10.00pm when the workers are sent out. But before then, the workers are first assembled and properly briefed before being allocated to trucks, whose routes have been pre-determined.

On why the agency carries out waste evacuation at night, Nsuabia says, “The rate and volume of refuse generation is so high that you can’t effectively handle the evacuation during daytime alone.

“At night, however, there is less traffic and most of the markets that generate high volume of wastes would have closed for the day. We attach five or six people and a supervisor to a truck to comb their allotted streets and evacuate all garbage, and we use Dino bins that two people can easily operate.”

The Managing Director, LAWMA, Mr. Ola Oresanya, said that some unsavoury incidents had happened to his men on night operations, noting that some serious accidents had been reported with drunken drivers running into the workers.

He said that a gang of armed robbers once attacked a LAWMA team in Ojota area in the night, seized their truck and took their uniforms with which they disguised to escape being stopped at a police checkpoint.

Oresanya, however, that the agency had put in place measures to minimise and mitigate the risks that the workers on night operations were exposed to. Those include the provision of reflective jackets and security cover by operatives of the Rapid Response Squad.

Other incentives, according to him, include payment of relatively wages and provision of insurance covers as well as free medical treatment and health insurance for the workers.

Oresanya said that each sweeper takes home between N10,000 and N15,000 monthly, while modest drivers and their supervisors take home between N25,000 and N40,000 every month including risk allowance of N2,000 monthly. They are also entitled to free breakfast and a monthly supply of beverages.

The agency recruited about 420 unemployed youths for the exercise with the number expected to reach about 1,000 soon.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Guidelines to writing and passing the SATs

I'm writing this post to hold Questions and Answers relating to the College Board SAT Exams and Undergraduate/first-degree admissions. How to Prepare for the SATs? How to choose a College? Please contribute YOUR OWN wealth of knowledge to help others. Post a Comment. Thanks.

Previously on UpNaira