Sunday, 10 August 2014


Volume 3, Issue 2, April-June 2014


  • Chair's Foreword
  • Solar Photovoltaics Workshop and Demonstration, Owerri, Nigeria
  • Report on Climate Science Workshop at Caraf Centre, Camden, London
  • Earth Science Events
  • References, Selected Reading

Foreword by the Chair of Society of African Earth Scientists*

Welcome to the thirteenth issue of the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES) newsletter, now issued quarterly.
   In the current issue we report on an SAES Solar Photovoltaics workshop held in Owerri, Nigeria on 17th June 2014 and a Climate Science Workshop facilitated for the children of the Caraf Centre Supplementary School in Camden, London on 29th June 2014.


Fig. 1. Materials for a 12v solar electric system installation: 12v, 100 w folding solar panel (black), 12v, 500 w  power inverter (blue), 12v, 10A  charge controller (grey), cable, fuses, connectors.

Solar Photovoltaics Workshop and Demonstration, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria, 17th June 2014

In Owerri town, south eastern Nigeria, the 17th day of June 2014  began overcast by clouds.  This was significant as the workshop and demonstration for the day to be delivered was on solar photovoltaic energy, so some sunshine was anxiously awaited, to enable the success of the demonstration.  Thankfully, by 10 am when the workshop was due to start, the sun had revealed itself.
“It was hoped that not only would the workshop programme address the issues of promoting the increased uptake of renewable energy in Africa and the transfer of technological skills, but also the need to equip youth with the skills (sometimes even the physical equipment if this is merited) for employment/self-employment.”

   The first two arrivals were two young men (graduates/students) from Awka in Anambra State, which is less than a hundred miles north of Owerri as the crow flies, but it took our young participants 3 hours of gruelling travel  by minibus on some very challenging stretches of road to reach the workshop. One of these participants is a graduate in electronics and already had some background knowledge in solar energy. Both were keen to learn about household off-grid solar photovoltaic 

Fig. 2. Components of the  12v solar electric system (excluding solar panel): 100AH deep cycle battery (black), 12v, 500w power inverter (blue),  12v, 10A charge controller (grey)

Fig. 3. Charge Controller

installations. The third participant was a local mechanic from Owerri, who wished to go into the business of making household off-grid solar installations. 
   The workshop took place against the backdrop of huge youth unemployment in Nigeria. It is estimated that every year as much as  four hundred thousand (400,000) Nigerian graduates join the ranks of youth in search of employment(1). This takes no account of  the youth of working age who are not graduates. Only 10% of the graduates find work. It was hoped that not only would the workshop programme address the issues of promoting the increased uptake of renewable energy in Africa and the transfer of technological skills, but also the need to equip youth with the skills (sometimes even the physical equipment if this is merited) for employment/self-employment. 
   On this occasion, the participants from Anambra were donated a 12v  charge controller, which would be put towards the setup of their own installation. Contacts with participants is  maintained  and later follow-up help and advice made available for those setting up their own  their own installations.
Fig. 4. 12v system powered  lights, tv and 70w fan intermittently

   The workshop and demonstration began with an introduction on the current trend where the cost of fossil fuels is rising; whilst that of solar is falling. The advantages of solar over diesel powered generators, are  becoming  more clear with daily experience:-
  • Solar is clean compared to the pollution of diesel generator fumes
  • Solar is silent compared to the noise pollution of diesel generators,
  • Once installed, energy from the sun is free and the maintenance costs of solar are very low (simply the cleaning of the solar panels and the maintenance of battery life), compared with a diesel generator which must be refilled with expensive diesel  regularly.
Fig. 5. Solar panels (100w - 2x50w panels wired  in parallel)

After this the participants were introduced to a brief description of the theory of photovoltaics and the basics of electricity they would need to know for installation safety and solar energy system effectiveness. Much time was spent on conveying the ways of arranging solar panel and battery arrays in series and in parallel, and the reasons for doing so. Time was also spent conveying how to make calculations to determine the correct thickness of cabling for safety and efficiency.

Fig 6 Standing fan - 70w load

   The workshop was concluded with a demonstration of the installation of a 12 volt off-grid solar photovoltaic energy system (see photographs). The setup of the system demonstrated the powering of a 40 watt light bulb and a 70 watt standing fan.  The availability locally of low energy light bulbs of as little as 3 and 4 watts would have enabled the system to supply ten times as many lights, if these low wattage lights had replaced the the single 40 watt light bulb. But the point is made that this power is available from a 12 v system.  It is also illustrated that low energy devices like low wattage light bulbs will significantly extend the capabilities of solar photovoltaic home installations, like the one demonstrated.
   The chief outcome of the workshop was to demonstrate the potential for the type of useful work that could be done in Africa by SAES, thereby influencing the Society’s  future activity programme. The renewable energy workshop/demo was seen as an effective means by which the SAES can promote the take off of renewable energy exploitation in Africa by Africans  through the delivery of knowledge and skills training to local communities. Furthermore it offered an opportunity to address the plight of our unemployed youth by also seeking to equip them with the skills for employment or self-employment in renewable energy, and if merited, the physical equipment with which to start. 
   A key point made about solar installations  in the presentation was re-iterated in conclusion; this being that the best way to learn is to acquire the components to set up your own household solar electric system. From this point of view  making donations of equipment to help people get started  might be a good thing to provide to deserving cases, such as installations that might  have communal benefit (e.g, village hall,  local clinic, hospital, school, etc).


Caraf Centre, Camden , North West London.

Climate Science Workshop  at CarAf Centre, Camden, London, 29th June 2014
 On Saturday 29th June, 13 children from various classes aged 6-10 years participated in a Climate Science workshop facilitated by Society of African Earth Scientists and entitled: “Measuring the Sizes of Raindrops”.

Fig  A.  Tray filled with 2cm of plain baking flour after collecting 10 seconds duration of rain drop samples from a london storm. The raindrops form flour pellets on striking the surface of the flour.

   The workshop is part of an SAES project aimed at African and African diaspora schools, to introduce young students (potential future African scientists) to earth and climate science through a subject that is very familiar and everyday to them: Rain. We moved on easily from this to talk about raindrops and whether raindrops are of uniform size. This proved an effective and engaging way to introduce the children to the idea of climate change, as the participation was strong.

Fig. B. The dried flour pellets formed from the rain drops of a London storm
 collected in February 2014, after sieving through the 0.7mm mesh

   Looking at raindrops and the power of the rainfall in general to change landscape and environment through pictures, it was made apparent to the students that the study of rain is an important way to look at climate change.

Fig. C. A stack of seven sieves
sort the flour pellet samples
into size classes which the
students were required to count
and to  weigh

   The students were challenged to answer if they thought it was possible to measure the size of a raindrop. All 13  of the students thought this was impossible.
   At this point, they were introduced to the famous flour pellet method (2,3) and were surprised to see the raindrops sampled as flour pellets [as in Fig. B above], collected by holding trays of 2 cm deep baking flour out in the rain for 10 seconds at a time. The flour pellets formed by the raindrops in the pan  [see pan in fig A] were then hardened by drying in an oven.
   By  sieving these pellets through a sieve stack of successive steel mesh  sizes (from bottom to top: 0.7mm, 1mm, 1.4mm, 1.7mm, 2mm, 2.36mm, 2.8mm)  as shown in  the adjacent photograph [fig. C] , the pellets are separated neatly into their respective size classes (the pellets of which are weighed and counted).  The students were scheduled to do the counting and weighing of the 7 sieve size classes as part of their activity in their respective groups, but time did not allow.
   As it was not possible to collect real rain samples on the day of the workshop, the students  participated  enthusiastically by collecting their own simulated rain drop samples.   Small tins filled with baking flour to 2cm depth were used to collect singular simulated raindrop samples dispensed from a plastic bottle. The samples were then air dried. The  students witnessed the process from the collection of raindrop samples to the forming of the hardened flour pellets by air drying or drying in an oven. Finding out raindrop sizes, which had moments ago seemed  impossible to our students was now shown, through a little  ingenuity using plain baking flour  and thinking about the problem, to be possible.

The results of the counting and weighing of flour pellets in their size classes form the basis of more advanced  test analysis and exercises for  the older science students, like the calculation of the median rain dropsize and the plotting of a cumulative frequency chart as above

The workshop outcome was successful in that the students fully participated, indicating that the route of using  the study of raindrops to approach the issues of earth and climate science  and introduce climate change was effective and held their interest throughout the hour long workshop, despite the young ages of the students (6-10 years). It was also indicated that this is an activity that can be replicated successfully  and as elaborately as required in future ( suited to the age group)  to introduce young students to the methods of science.

Affiliation and Association with other organisations
SAES is affiliated to the African Association of Women in the Geosciences, Solar Sister, South Africa Young Earth Scientists Network and is a supporter of the African led counter land grab initiatives, Stop Africa Land Grab and Stop Land Grabbing.

Earth Science Events

14-16 August 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.

17-19 August 2014
Bangladesh Summit on Sustainable development
Venue: Dhaka, Bangladesh
It is our immense pleasure to inform you that Eminence, Bangladesh is organizing the Bangladesh Summit on Sustainable Development after the remarkable successes of the two consecutive global meets held in the year 2012 and 2013. The three day conference will take place from 17th to 19th August 2014 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, focusing on the post-2015 development agenda and beyond; this year’s summit headline is “Mission for 100 Years.”

15-19 September 2014
41st Congress of International Association of Hydrogeologists: Challenges and Strategies
Venue: Marrakech, Morocco.

3-9 November 2014
The African Association of Women in Geosciences (AAWG) organizes its seventh conference under the title:
Earth Sciences and Climate Change: Challenges to Development in Africa
Venue: Windhoek, Namibia
AAWG supports the development of Earth Scientists in Africa by providing opportunities for networking and applying science for the sustainable development challenges the continent is facing. Opportunities for earth scientists are great, extending from traditional mineral extraction to environmental management such as climate change adaptation, prevention of natural hazards, water scarcity, and ensuring access to quality earth science training. To assist African governments to realize opportunities, AAWG activities are developed through a participatory approach. International conferences have been organized to address various issues that affect the African continent, to which Earth Scientists can make a contribution. The 7th AAWG conference is being organized, taking into consideration the current challenges the continent is facing in view of the changing climatic conditions, which is threatening sustainable development agenda in Africa.
Women and climate change
Earth Science: History
Earth and its Dynamics
Earth and Life
Pedology and Pedogenesis
Global Warming and Climate Change
Earth and Ecology
Medical Geology
Earth Science and Hydrology
Applications of Earth Sciences
Earth and Environmental Science
Archaeology and paleontology
Geoheritage, Geotourism and climate change
Earth Sciences and local communities

22-23 November 2014
3rd Annual International Conference on Geological and Earth Sciences
Venue: Fort Canning Hotel, Singapore.

Scientific studies of the Earth System are generally oriented towards understanding three broad and inter-related issues, namely: the origin and evolution of the Earth through geological time span of about 4.55 Ga; the formation of earth resources and their distribution in space and time; and the earth processes in land-ocean-atmosphere interfaces.
The evolution of the solid earth witnessed several bench mark events like core-mantle separation within 50 Ma since the origin of Earth, when bulk of the siderophile elements sank down to the core and the resultant thermal energy initiated the mantle convection, followed by extraction of continental and oceanic crust from the bulk silicate Earth. Mantle convection is believed to have played a significant role in several geodynamic processes including sea floor spreading, and the making and breaking of super-continents through the geological time. The formation of hydrosphere and atmosphere paved the way for the origin of life and its proliferation in water bodies and landmass from about 2500 Ma onwards.
Human civilization has always relied on various Earth resources for survival, growth and development. Geoscientists have made significant contribution in understanding the genesis and spatial distribution of resources of industrial and ore minerals, fossil fuels and groundwater. Based on this knowledge several geological, geochemical and geophysical exploration methods have been developed and these are successfully practiced for discovery of earth resources.
Earth’s surface processes on land, ocean and their interfaces with atmosphere have a direct bearing on landforms, climate, rainfall and vegetation. Understanding these processes helps in supporting agriculture, and zonation and mitigation of several natural hazards.

23-24 November
Hydrocarbons, Energies and Environment (HCEE) Seminar
Venue: University of Kasdi Merbah Ouargla, Algeria

Since the oil crisis of 1973 all world countries, including developed countries highly dependent of hydrocarbons, have become aware of the consequence of depletion of fossil energy sources and are trying to diversity through scientific research, their sources of renewable energy
   The potential of the Algeria in hydrocarbons can ensure its future needs, but beyond 2040, it will face enormous difficulties to meet its internal needs in this area, hence the need to put in place the mechanisms to ensure a progressive contribution of renewable in the energy economy, and solar origin specifically. It should also be noted the possibility of exploration of shale gas, which the Algeria seems well placed in this fields, provided that they master the techniques of exploitation of this resource and respect the environment.
The exploitation of hydrocarbon resources can generate consequences that can harm the environment through waste.
Information: Dr. A. Dobbi, faculty of hydrocarbons, renewable energy, and the science of the Earth and the Universe.
University Kasdi Merbah-Ouargla- ALGERIA
Mob: + 213771-60-23-68……
E-mail : Geolcol

2-3 March 2015
University of Venda hosts:
First National Conference on Disaster Risk Science and Management: South Africa's Response in a Changing Global Environment
Venues: (1) Conference, 3-4 March: Protea Hotel Ranch Resort, Polokwane, LIMPOPO, South Africa; (2) Pre conference exhibition 25-27 February: University of Venda, Thoyhoyandou, South Africa.

Disaster Risk Science refers to knowledge that is geared towards disaster risk reduction and management. Every year natural disasters are ravaging communities across many nations in the world. In recent times we have witnessed disasters associated with climate change and variability in the form of hazards related to severe weather events. Human induced hazards are also affecting millions of people; the worst affected being the most vulnerable in society. Disasters affecting African countries include extreme temperatures, drought, floods and storms. These disasters impede the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Vulnerability, lack of information, lack of resources, weak or non-existent early warning systems and fragile infrastructure all contribute to disaster situations. Disasters affect livelihoods, cause losses in lives, assets, the economy and the environment. The capacity to cope with disasters is further accentuated by population growth, disease outbreaks conflict and civil unrest. Different countries in Africa are devising various responses including prioritising training, research and community engagements. An integrated and inter-displinary approach is required to cope with these disasters. However skills and knowledge on disaster risk science, risk reduction and risk management is lacking both locally and internationally. Building skills and knowledge in this area is a requirement that tallies with the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015. Priority for Action 3 of this framework requires that we “use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. In response the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Venda is developing an undergraduate program, research activities and community engagements to meet this need.

References, Selected Reading, etc

  2. Bentley, W.A., 1904, Studies of raindrops and raindrop phenomena, Monthly Weather Review, 32: 450-456. 
  3. Salako, F.K., 2003, Susceptibility of coarse textured soils to soil erosion by water in the tropics, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria.
  4. Jordan, et al (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.
  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:

*Board of the Society of African Earth Scientists: Dr Chukwunyere Kamalu (Chair - Nigeria), Osmin Callis (Secretary - Guyana/Nigeria), Ndivhuwo Cecilia Mukosi (South Africa), Mathada Humphrey  (South Africa), Dr Enas Ahmed ( Egypt).


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