Saturday, 16 November 2013


Volume 2,  Issue No. 4, August/September 2013

Foreword by the Chair of Society of African Earth Scientists, Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu
Welcome to the tenth issue of the bi-monthly newsletter of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES).
   In the current issue we report on the Solar Energy Photovoltaics workshop held on 22nd September 2013 including some important and key  issues arising from the discussions among the workshop participants. A full workshop guide to a 24v solar photovoltaic energy system  installation will be provided on the SAES blog page at in the near future.

 Solar Energy Photovoltaics Workshop 22nd September 2013
Associated Key Issues and Outcomes Arising from  the Workshop
 Against the odds, Sunday 22nd September 2013 was a sunny day in north London, which augured well for the Society of African Earth Scientists first solar energy photovoltaic workshop.
      The workshop aimed to provide the basic practical and theoretical knowledge of solar photovoltaic energy system installation; and succeeded in imparting this to 4 persons including 3 members of SAES.
     Participants in the workshop were: Chukwunyere Kamalu (facilitator), other members and a guest of SAES, respectively, Mr Ifeanyi Okoye, Ms Iche Otonti and Mr Bo Sassegbon.
   It was a lively and inquisitive group, keen to grasp the details of the practical application of the workshop learning.
   The discussions centred mostly on the practicalities of solar installation in Nigeria, since this was the region represented by the workshop participants.

Fig. 1   Two 12v  solar panels. In series these 150W panels make a 24v array
   One key consideration on deciding whether to go ahead with a solar project, that arose for discussion  in the workshop was the retail price and also the environmental cost of fossil fueled generators in Africa, compared with solar. 
   It could be demonstrated that whilst solar incurs a large initial expense, it repays the investment in the long term. But monetary cost was not the only important consideration in the comparison: Examples were shared of eastern Nigerian neighbourhoods where serious pollution and health risk resulted from the fact of many households in close proximity owning diesel generators.

Fig. 2   Charge Controller

 This is a growing problem, with serious health consequences.  Solar, therefore, not only provides a more affordable solution (as the cost of solar is falling while the cost of fossil fuels is rising), but it is also a cleaner and safer solution in health and environmental terms.

Fig. 3   Solar Charge Controller - in operation

    Another consideration in the workshop discussion arising in terms of solar electricity project planning for Nigeria, was the cost comparison of UK acquired solar components with those bought in Nigeria. Certain portable solar electric system components that are sufficiently portable to carry in a suitcase (like the charge controller and even inverters up to 2000W, for instance) are cheaper purchased in the UK; whilst solar panels may be cheaper in Nigeria.  This is especially the case, now that the Karshi solar panel manufacturing plant has been established in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city. It was envisaged that deep cycle batteries, another key component of the solar photovoltaic energy installation, could also be purchased from suitable suppliers in Nigeria.

Fig 4   Power Inverter - front view

   In the course of the day, workshop participants were given the tools to design and setup a solar electric energy system. All participants were likely to put this into practice at some point in the future.
 Workshop Content
Participants were introduced to the science behind photovoltaic energy: when light shines on a metallic surface electrons may be released leading to the flow of electric current.

Fig. 5    Batteries - 24v arrangement

   Participants  were also introduced to electricity and the concepts of electric charge – as the build up of electricity; electric current – flow of  charge from a positive to a negative terminal;  and electric potential – the potential  difference in energy between two points (the negative and positive terminals).

Fig 6    Power Inverter - rear view

    The workshop then went on to look at the benefits we may anticipate to get from the off grid system; the 4 key components of a solar electric system (the solar panels, charge controller, power inverter and batteries); and finally, a practical demonstration of the installation of a 24v, solar photovoltaic energy system. 

Earth Science Book Reviews

Land and Power: Sustainable Agriculture and African Americans by Jeffrey L Jordan,  Edward Pennick, Walter A Hill and Robert Zabawa (eds).1

This series of essays covers topics such as agrarian ethics emerging from slavery of Africans in America, contemporary black environmental thought in rural settings, the traditional African influence on black ecological thought; the symbiotic exchange between African and native American world views, black perspectives in sustainable agriculture, etc.

   John Ferrel gives a rare insight into the broad extent of the scientific achievements of George Washington Carver2, including his use of plant chemistry to make useful household items from plants.    His essay also illustrates the possible influence of Booker T Washington and the Tuskegee Institute (which employed Carver) on the black agrarian and environmental movement.
   Owusu Bandele’s paper shows the cultural, social, environmental and political importance of acquiring land in the bid to address African people’s alienation from the land3. Among young African Americans in particular, Bandele observed an apparent lack of interest in land beyond its dollar value and saw a need for this to be addressed.
   Core elements of a traditional African ecological system are laid out in the essay by Kwasi Densu4 who says: “Indigenous African communities viewed the earth as a living, concrete, yet spiritual reality. On multiple levels this core assumption was integrated into the land ethic of the community... Invariably, human beings are governed by the constraints  and order associated with the earth itself .” Densu also notes that traditional African agricultural systems are agroecological in orientation and African land tenure systems are defined by the commons and not by private ownership.
   All in all, the volume is an interesting collection of essays  helping to define African sustainable development as seen traditionally and in the diaspora.

Affiliation and Association with other organisations
SAES is affiliated to the African Association of Women in the Geosciences, Solar Sister, and is an active supporter of the African led counter land grab initiatives, Stop Africa Land Grab and Stop Land Grabbing.

Earth Science Events
November 24-26,  2013
7th International Conference on African Geology
Venue: Assiut, Egypt
A conference to present new advances, and research results in the fields of theoretical, experimental and applied geology of Africa.

March 19, 20, 21,   2014
Association of African Women in the Geosciences –
Day for Earth Sciences in Africa and Middle East  "Geoeducation, geoheritage and Peace building in Africa and Middle East"
Venue: International
The African Association of Women in Geosciences and the African Geoparks Network are proclaiming the 20th March as a “Day for Earth Sciences in Africa and the Middle East”
to increase the awareness about the role that earth scientists could play to help to build a peaceful, healthier and wealthier continent. This day was first celebrated in 2013. In 2014, the day will be celebarated under the title "Geoeducation, Geoheritage and Peace Building in Africa and Middle East".

August 14-16, 2014
3rd Young Earth Scientists Congress, 25th Colloquium on African Geology
“Earth Sciences for Improving Livelihood in Africa”
Venue: Mwalimu Julius Nyerere  Convention Centre, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
“CAG in Brief: The Colloquium of African Geology (CAG) is a major biennial meeting organized under the auspices of the Geological Society of Africa (GSAf). Since the first Colloquium in 1965, the Colloquia have been hosted by several European and African countries. The African countries that had a chance to organize this event were Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Mozambique, Tunisia, South Africa and Ethiopia. Based on the decision of the Geological Society of Africa (GSAf) General Assembly held on 14th January 2013 at the Millennium Hall, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (during the 24th Colloquium), the organization of the next Colloquium of African Geology (CAG25) as well as the 15th Conference of the Geological Society of Africa was assigned to Brazil. However, because of administrative problems in organizing the 25th CAG along with the Brazilian Geological Society of Brazil Conference in September 2014, the GSAf Council members decided to move the CAG25 to another country. Based on the discussion between Prof. Aberra Mogessie (President of the Geological Society of Africa) and Prof. Sospeter Muhongo, Minister of the Ministry of Energy and Minerals of the United Republic of Tanzania, in Graz Austria, in August 2013 it was decided to organize the CAG25 back to back with the 3rd YES Congress in Tanzania. This decision was approved by the GSAf Council members. The CAG25 is an independent meeting which will be organized by the Tanzania Geological Society (TGS) under the auspices of the GSAf.”

References and Selected Reading
1.    Jordan J. L., E. Pennick, W. A. Hill, R. Zabawa (eds), Land & Power:  Sustainable agriculture and African Americans - A collection of essays from the 2007 Black environmental thought conference. Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), 2007.
2.    Ferrel, J.S., George Washington Carver: A Blazer of Trails to a Sustainable Future, in Jordan, et al (eds), op. cit., p.11.
3.    Bandele, O., The Deep Roots of Our Land-Based Heritage: Cultural Social Political and Environmental Implications, in Jordan, et al (eds), op. cit., p.79.
4.       Densu, K., Theoretical and Historical Perspectives on Agroecology and African American Farmers, in Jordan, et al (eds), op. cit.,  p.93.
5.      Gupta, S.K., Modern Hydrology and Sustainable Water Development, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, 2011.
6.        A link on “Groundwater and Rural Water Supply in Africa”:
7.      Link to Journal of African Earth Sciences: 

1 comment:

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