Wednesday, 29 October 2014

NEED

The precursor of human civilization was spawned by what can be termed with one word need. The need for sustainability on numerous aspects. The need for safety and the need for food security. This later resulted to other needs. The era of the Ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamia and other civilization practically revolved around these two needs, however over time then there was the need for clothing then later education for sustaining food production and public safety. It was through the rapid increase in population and thus the need for employment that later the need to have more businesses to grow and industries. This resulted to the need for energy to power the growing industries. The unfortunate situation is that over years, we have relied on fossil fuels for thousands of years resulting to environmental degradation that later brought about the need to preserve the environment. The mounting pressure has resulted to looking at sources such as solar, wind, hydro electric, tidal power, geothermal and nuclear. Oil and gas are still in use however with the speculation of oil wells drying up in the near future, there will be need to have other sources that are consistent and sustainable. For consistency purposes, people are setting their eyes on nuclear power. The interesting thing about nuclear power is its high energy yield and no carbon emissions compared to coal, oil and gas. A small nuclear pellet of 2.5 centimeter in height and 1 centimeter in diameter has an energy yield of one ton of coal that produces 2.06 tonnes of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy is being embraced by several countries for their economic upheaval as the energy produced last years and is cheaper compared to buying millions of litres of oil or gas for millions of dollars that can be used for investments. However, the other side is handling the radio active waste that people claim that it will have adverse effects on the environment. People need to know that we live in a planet that obeys the newtons third law of motion that states for every action, there is always an equal opposite reaction. This is to say the radiation can be countered by nature's own sunflower plants that are capable of absorbing radiation and clean the environment of it. The experiment was used in Chernobyl and now Fukushima to clear the contamination. It is however interesting that those who claim to criticize the use of nuclear power particularly in Africa, they happen not to provide an alternative. Nuclear accidents are unpredictable but can be contained. The problem is the accidents are the one that people find easy to talk about than how it is contained. After the Chernobyl disaster, the need for rigorous safety measures were put into place and more instead it inspired many to venture into research on safety, nuclear fusion and other applications where a lot of discovery was done so far. The need to embrace nuclear technology for electricity generation and other applications has increased over time. Kenya stands to gain with the embracing of Nuclear technology, not just for electricity generation but for the future.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Lessons from Sun Tzu

The book Art of War was written by a Chinese General Sun Tzu, we learn a lot from the book as it is and has been used by famous military strategists and leaders alike on how to govern, rule and strategize, the likes of China's Mao Tse Tung, General Douglas Mc Arthur, one of U.S most renowned generals of World War 2 era. Businesses also derive inspirations form military tactics pertaining to leadership and market penetration. One of the quotes from the book that defines strategic management is 'Know thy self and the enemy and will be victorious'. This means that if you understand yourself, your strengths, weaknesses same as the enemy's and use what you have at your disposal plus take advantage of your adversary's weakness, you will always win in the end. Kenya is taking a bold step towards nuclear electricity generation as part of its Vision 2030 pillars. Despite the fears mixed with a lot of skepticism and negative criticism, the Kenyan Government is still pressing on with the project as the benefits outweigh the costs. The first strategy is that the country realized that the economy cannot grow without a reliable and consistent source of energy, this is a weakness to achieving economic stability, it does realize that there is a fast growing and capable human resource and need little training to little or no cost at all. The nuclear project is being embraced all in several countries in Africa and this is Kenya's threat as this will diminish the economic competitiveness and investors might shy away due unreliable and expensive energy costs. The other threat unfortunately is from within. As much as Kenya has a large human resource capability, but few know about Nuclear Science and nuclear engineering plus over the years, the negativity that has clouded the minds of the citizens on nuclear technology. To counter this, the country has embarked on some strategies, the first was to establish a state corporation that will handle matters concerning the development of nuclear technology and has set date lines where the first nuclear power plant to be commissioned by 2022 and to add three more plants by 2030. Secondly, the country has embarked on a capacity building program where 15 university graduates in engineering and physical science fields are selected on an annual basis, to do a post graduate degree in Nuclear Science, free of charge. Third, is to dispel the fears and the negativity surrounding nuclear science, where the state corporation, Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board has been tasked to publicize and advocate the benefits of nuclear technology to the citizens and what they stand to gain. The Publicity and Advocacy department of the state corp has the capability of handling queries, give updates on the latest advancements and in depth information regarding the negative aspect of nuclear technology, as a way to fight off skepticism and erroneous information bestowed on people. All this is based on the first chapter from the book Art of War and its working as there is some significant progress in educating the public at events such as the International Trade Fair of Nairobi and agricultural shows of Mombasa and Kisumu. Giving of careers talk encouraging the students of High school, and University in taking an interest on science classes as there is need for nuclear engineers, artisans, lawyers, journalists and researchers, particularly researchers as they will open the gateway to new discoveries for the future.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The power of will

As I was a young boy, i used to read comic books of some several superhero characters, like DC Comics, Superman, The Batman, and Marvel's X-Men and what's more interesting is when i grew older i transcended from reading the comic books and watching the movies. Few were skeptical as bringing these characters to life when i was small but now we get to watch them in the theaters even the skeptics and realists where some even enjoy watching the movies from the comic books that they used to criticize. This is through the willpower of the writers to change the minds of people, through a different way of thinking and communicating. They used the power of the cinema. The same can be used when it comes to Nuclear energy in Kenya. A lot of people get to hear just the word nuclear, the first thing that gets to their heads is either the bomb, the radiation and the accidents, not to forget the expense. A lot of people lack the will to see things on both sides, what i mean is they forget the progress that countries have had using nuclear energy, the carbon emission reduction through it and advancements in medicine, agriculture, defense and modern day industrial revolution. They forget to see the will power of one Curie Marie who pioneered the research of radio activity that now we talk about Nuclear Science and Technology. It is amazing that in history she is the only one to win the coveted Nobel Price twice in two different fields, so how is that for an achievement all spawned by the will to make a better living and a difference. Kenya needs sustainable energy for its economy as it grows the more energy is needed, the truth of the matter is the other energy sources will still not provide what is demanded come 2030 and the for the next years to come. 17,000 Megawatts is needed (Mw) by vision 2030 and also for the surging mining industry that our government has taken keen interest in. The rare earth minerals in Taita Taveta and Kwale County need a constant amount of energy for the production process that currently Kenya cannot produce the needed quantity to compete with the big boys with the current energy output. Nuclear energy is consistent and not vulnerable to weather conditions and the source fuel has a very high energy output. For Kenya to transcend from its developing nation status to developed nation, it will need the willpower of her citizens to embrace the nuclear energy for electricity generation. It will need the willpower of the current bunch of science oriented citizens to understand the fundamentals of nuclear science, to use this knowledge for the good of the country and its prosperity. It feels somewhat degrading as other countries like Algeria and South Africa embracing nuclear science mostly for economic purposes and other positive possibilities that comes with it. All it has taken is the will of the people of these country to see themselves making a difference and making their lives better, for the current generation and the future generation. The power of will towards nuclear technology for electricity generation is what will bring out the best of Kenya and what it has to offer. We have so far proved innovative resourceful in several fields, such as business, where we are leading in Mobile phone banking and other innovative ideas in agriculture and even medicine, if you can recall several discoveries in treating HIV/AIDS, e.g. the Kemron drug developed in the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) labs. This is through the willpower of one Dr. Davy Koech. Imagine if we embrace nuclear technology, the possibilities that will emerge, a shift in the need for environmental conservation, where less trees will be cut and less carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal. Research in nuclear fusion that will possibly be the needed technology of the ever imagined interstellar travel or deep ocean exploration. All this is through the will of the Kenyan people to take a positive keen interest on nuclear technology, as a tool of a prosperous future.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Element of Fear

When the topic of nuclear technology first breaches into peoples minds, the first thing that runs through their heads is destruction and more destruction. The negativity behind it for years has overshadowed the good behind it. All people see is the accidents of the plants and claiming that there is other options. The truth is the other options are not enough and that is why nuclear technology comes in. Kenya is in need of energy to push it to it potential. A lot claim that the other sources are viable but they tend to turn a blind eye on the consequences. The land question in Kenya is one such consequence and that points to solar power and wind as for it to produce the needed power output, a lot of families will have to be relocated and that is a recipe for forthcoming disaster that might last for years. Anther fear is based on the historical events of the second world war of 1939 and the cold war, that brought the rise of the Nuclear weapons race for more than thirty years. Other countries had formed factions during the cold war era and some followed to make nuclear weapons of their own for 'fear' of attack and to defend themselves and to flex their military muscle. This has made people fear the use of nuclear technology and some have risen to speak out against it. Nuclear technology goes beyond just making weapons and causing environmental degradation. Ironically if we look at the good side of nuclear technology that people have turned a blind eye. Lets begin with the basics, such as X-ray scans in hospitals for medical purposes, the cruise ships, the air craft carriers and the submarines all run on nuclear fuel, factories such as the Al Jubail 2 a water desalinization plan in Saudi Arabia that runs on nuclear fuel for the process. This is however ironic as Saudi Arabia is one of the leading countries in oil production and exportation. Other uses of nuclear technology are in agriculture, for the production of new strains that are resistant to drastic weather conditions that Kenya should borrow a leaf from. In Mali, they have embraced the use of irradiation for the production of drought resistant sorghum and rice that have a high market value. Unfortunately, in Kenya there has been fear of the so called genetically modified foods claiming that it will have adverse effects to peoples' health and take a country like Mali that have no reported cancer cases based on the irradiated strains of their farm produce. So the element of fear strikes and brings out the negativity and later Kenya ends up having to deal with drought and famine, while a permanent solution is painted as wrong. The fear of nuclear technology also brings about lack of the capacity needed for the nuclear electricity generation program. Proof of this was at the Nairobi International Trade Fair, when a concerned citizen asked me if the nuclear science program was marketable. I noticed the fear in the person as if should one decides to take a career in nuclear science as to what are the odds of one getting a job. I had to explain the numerous benefits of nuclear science and it transcends or cuts across several careers. As for electricity generation, the fear of accidents is already in the minds of many due to the recent situation of the Fukushima Dai chii power plant in Japan. Many think of it as human error but it was the unforeseeable disasters that affected it. The environmental degradation that comes with it that overlooks that the nuclear fuel cells are recyclable and its energy output makes it last for years before decommissioning. All in all the element of fear, coupled with ignorance is a serious challenge to Kenyans and nuclear technology is the key to unlocking new discoveries and solving the current and future challenges in Kenya.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Negativity Cloud

Apparently it is easy to criticize than to give a valid solution to any problem, mistake, flaw or anomaly in everything that we see. From the discoveries of the greatest minds, who have changed the world and changed our way of thinking like Edward Jenner, the person behind the discovery of the smallpox vaccine and pretty much how we make the vaccines of every deadly viruses that have been plaguing us. Then there is Albert Einstein a slow learner in class whom the teachers claimed that he has no future only to become one of the pioneers of physics and how we look at several concepts in understanding our universe. Other people like James Porter and D.B Cooper, the pioneers of post film production, who are responsible to the basic editing styles in film post production and the one who changed the minds of skeptics on the film industry. If they could have lived longer, they would have been amazed as to how their little known ideas gave birth to a multibillion industry. All these great minds had to dance through the negativity cloud. What i mean is negative criticism and absolute pessimism based on several negative outcome of events and worse, is doubt and accepting doubt is the beginning of all problems relating to progress, be it an individual or a corporation. The nuclear power project in Kenya has been met with a lot of criticism and a lot of doubt. A lot of people have been justifying their criticism with the recent nuclear accident in Japan. Most of these critics are ignoring the fact that the accident was as a result of two things. The status of the plant which was an old one and the earthquake with an extra tsunami devastation to sum it up. Another is doubt with the annoying claim that Kenya is a developing country and it will be difficult for it, expensive and all sorts of worries. They did say the same thing about Pakistan and they were proved wrong. The same critics will be on the forefront of launching complaints that the government is not doing enough to curtail the rising energy costs and most of them will not provide a lasting solution. A friend of mine said that Kenya going nuclear is a bad idea citing the limited knowledge on the Fukushima incident and geographical patterns. It is true that we can use solar but the truth is this will not be enough. The vulnerability of solar power is far riskier if Kenya is to be heavily dependent on it however can be one of the alternative source. For Kenya going nuclear is not just about electricity generation but also environmental. A lot of critics will not fail to disagree with this. They will mention wind and solar but the two cannot be completely be relied upon and with the land issue in Kenya particularly where the conditions favors the setting up of the power stations for the two renewable source. If we compare the other conventional fuels such as oil, gas and coal that have powered the industrial revolution in Europe in the early 18th Century and still power their industries. It is quite not surprising that few have mentioned the effects they have on the environment over the years leading to climatic changes that our ecosystem is to contain and maintain balance. Nuclear energy is more greener than the conventional three and that is something that cannot be disputed as during the process the effluent that a nuclear power plant will emit is water vapour. The nuclear waste people are up in arms about is a small amount that will be disposed in controlled areas with the highest safety precautions and later be recycled. Oil, Coal and Gas cannot be recycled but unfortunately a lot more will be used compared to Uranium, which is the mineral responsible for powering a nuclear power plant. A small uranium fuel pellet which is some few grams in weight has an energy output equivalent to the energy produced by one tonne of coal. The same tonne of coal will emit 2.86 tonnes of carbon dioxide, much devastation to the environment compared to nuclear power station that emits non of the carbon dioxide. Note to critics is the Kenya Nuclear Electricity board is open to give the needed information and we are bounded by the code of integrity and impartiality and we are also open to questions and concerns on the nuclear project to be established in Kenya. Nuclear electricity is one of the many conduits to Kenya's economic and environmental stability which it should be embraced as every country is unique and can handle its own problems and issues but not comparing with other countries. Nuclear technology is the future and those who doubt or skeptical about it will be left behind as the rest advance and move on. Change is in the air and over the years it has been proven that it is difficult to fight change and now Kenya is going nuclear as she wants move forward and not stay where she is.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Nuclear power and Economic Competitiveness

I often hear people complain about the rising electricity costs and this is not limited to individuals but also big corporations. The sad part is some businesses take advantage of this by deliberately increasing the prices of their commodities, making some "illegal" profits. The government has tried to regulate through agencies such as Energy Regulatory Commission, but the issue has over time been controversial and not a permanent solution. Factors such as inflation, increase in foreign exchange rates and the occasional decision by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to increase oil prices citing other reasons, contributes to the continuous increase in energy costs. The nuclear power project will be the best permanent solution to counter the rise in commodity prices, increase the competitiveness of Kenya as a business hub. As a movie enthusiast, i would like to see film makers coming to Kenya and use our beautiful scenery as one of their sites for their films. Over the years, they have been heading to Republic of South Africa for both business and pleasure and the influx of tourists is four times that of Kenya, this is not good for us. Recently, there has been two films, where part of their scenes been filmed in South Africa, Blended and the highly anticipated upcoming superhero film The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron set to be released in 2015. The key to this is not just the economy of South Africa, but the costs are less compared to filming in Kenya. Electricity costs is a major factor considered, when it comes to filming. South Africa current output is over 40,000 Megawatts and Kenya is 1700 Megawatts. There has been a lot of claims that we need to focus on green energy. If you compare coal, oil and gas to Nuclear Energy, you will find that for by the time a nuclear power plant gets to be decommissioned, it will take some twenty to thirty years, where the only waste will be a few tonnes of radio active material that will be kept in containment facilities to be used again in future compared to the hundreds of tonnes of carbon emissions produced by the conventional three. Energy is vital in all aspects to the economy, particularly tourism. Kenya needs to go nuclear to power the economy to greater heights and bring in investments not just the usual and obvious types but also the occasional ones like the ever lucrative film industry that we have to tap into and compete with other countries for location sites and production, where energy is the backbone of it all. If we look at the state of California in USA, produces over 69,000 Megawatts, with 8 nuclear power plants that produces part of the energy needed, and its economy is $ 2.05 trillion. If it was a country on its own, then it would have been the 8th largest economy in the world. If Kenya wants to tap into the entertainment industry, like California that constantly brings in a lot of revenue then a consistent supply of energy is needed to compliment this and that is to go Nuclear.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Nuclearliness

I recall watching the movie Thor in 2011, which is based on an old Scandinavian mythology brought to life on the silver screen not as a god as the ancient Scandinavian claimed but as another human like being from another universe. He was trusted with a powerful relic, the hammer Mjolnir by his father Odin, King of Asgard. The hammer was said to have no equal and that it can be used as a weapon to destroy or as a tool to build. I can relate this to nuclear technology. Ever since its discovery, it has been used more as a weapon and to instill fear where the technology gave birth to the first nuclear weapon that practically turned the tides of the second world war. The builders visioned as a means to end the war, however spawned the fear amongst people. Nuclear Technology on the other side has had some positive effect as it has also been harnessed to provide sustainable, consistent and clean energy compared to oil, coal and gas. During the Nairobi International Trade Fair of 2014,Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board participated and came out of the shadows to show what the organization was all about. My colleagues and I were at the stand from the beginning to the end of the event and it was an illuminating experience. During the event it came to me that a lot of people do not know about nuclear technology and the benefits it will bring to Kenya, most people came with negative thoughts of how dangerous it will be, how we will be on the radar of the most powerful nations. Another truth is that people are used to the negative aspect and criticize however when it gets to provide a solution, nobody has a solid one to give. A lot of people had fears that it will be an expensive venture and the taxpayers will pay more but not looking at the other side of the coin on the significant gains nuclear technology will give to the people of Kenya. Be reminded that the so called G8 nations depend on the use of nuclear technology for sustaining their economy. A good example is the Republic of France whose 75% of their energy generation comes from nuclear power, though plans are to reduce it to 50% by 2025 to pave way for other sources of energy production. South Korea had a smaller economy like ours in the 1960's and there was a time Kenya provided financial aid to them during that time, now they are 20 times larger than our economy. In addition to this, they are currently our advisers and main consultants in the development of nuclear electricity generation. Kenya needs nuclear power to realize its economic potential and to roll with the big boys. It is in the heart of every Kenyan, in any place they are in this world, to see the country prosper and be proud to say that he or she can trace their roots there, just like the English, French and the Americans. One of the major pillars of Kenya's vision 2030 is energy and that is why Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board is in existence. To build the capacity and to dispel the paranoia and fear that has been fed to the minds of people from some acclaimed writers, newspapers and any other source of information that accentuates the negativity of nuclear technology. KNEB is currently the fulcrum of Nuclearliness, the intangible stuff that makes us do what we want to do and that is to show that Kenya needs nuclear technology, not just for nuclear electricity but for the future of this nation. We want to show people that the careers in the nuclear energy goes beyond a nuclear power plant and the board as it is key to opening countless discoveries waiting to be discovered, not just the current generation but the next generation. By Machel Awili.