Tag Archives: Russian Federation

Global microgrid trends and major players in smart city energy for Africa

The reality is such that not enough investment capital flows into African clean energy projects.

One option to consider for smart cities in Africa is green bond issuance. Green bonds are used to finance projects in renewable energy, energy efficiency, low-carbon transport and wastewater treatment.

In the fourth quarter of 2015, the issuance of green bonds reached $15.2 billion, boosted by activity by financial institutions in the build up to the Paris climate talks.

The dearth of private institutional investor capital, such as U.S. and European pension funds, which manage trillions of dollars, is especially glaring. While utility-scale projects such as Morocco’s 510-megawatt solar project and Kenya’s 300-MW wind project have secured key financing to begin construction — the first 160-MW phase of Morocco’s project will begin operating later this year — nearly all of the capital was from public sector sources such as the World Bank and African Development Bank.
No wonder that — with 673 projects (4,800 MW) — the United States continues to lead the global microgrid market of 1,437 microgrids worldwide, totaling 13 GW in 100 countries. Alaska remains the number one state with 900 MW of microgrid capacity, followed by New York with 151 MW.
And then there is 816 MW near the Arctic Circle in the Far East of Russia.

Avoiding redundant investments in smart city infrastructure is another big theme for Africa.

Alignment between stakeholders is not easily achieved due to the varying business models of cities, utilities, and private stakeholders. Globally, technology and standards for interoperability are lagging behind the conceptual goals of the smart city.

Market barriers range from financial and business risk, regulatory hurdles to city and utility silos as well as limited access to data.

Enacting policies to reduce capital costs and risks is important. Governments can help reduce transaction costs by promoting contract standardization and securitization. Egypt, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa, among them — now have feed-in policies where the government guarantees a price (often at a premium) to compensate producers for certain types of renewable energy.
Full report by smart city experts Navigant Research,
with stats for Africa and charts like Annual Smart Energy for Smart Cities Technology Revenue by Segment, Middle East & Africa: 2015-2024 (download available here)

In terms of global R&D

the University of Tennessee‘s Center for Ultra-Wide-Area Resilient Electric Energy Transmission Networks is on the forefront of microgrid technology in the world.
Key person: Dr. Chien-fei Chen
Dr. Chen’s environmental research areas include energy literacy and the diffusion of renewable energy knowledge, environmental beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and public opinion over environmental issues.
Major Smart Energy for Smart City Players




Cisco Systems





S&C Electric Company


Schneider Electric




ABB leads all vendors in terms of total microgrid capacity and Schneider Electric leads in terms of the total number of microgrid projects in its development pipeline. The leading resource choices are diesel in terms of capacity and solar PV in terms of being included in microgrid projects.

In the world of black swans, forget Russia’s guns vs. butter, it’s bricks, bricks and insulation in Ukraine

Why should you care about Ukraine‘ s manufacturers of building materials? In the world of unknown unknowns, they have the gut to create in a Eastern European nation that is disrupted by destruction.

There is nothing creative about the destruction that takes human lives. And in this region of rising geopolitical tensions, Ukrainians’ creative resilience is going to inspire you to build where the rival would rather have you stagnantly recover from the destruction he aimed at you.

With their north-eastern neighbours getting deeper into the harsh ‘it’s guns or butter’ dilemma, it’s bricks, bricks and insulation in Ukraine.

Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers, explains the human science behind the magic of minerals. We caught up with him in Munich, Germany during the BAU 2015, world’s leading trade fair for architecture, materials and systems.

Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials' Manufacturers
Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers
Why participate in the BAU? There are similar events throughout the year in places from Sao Paulo to Tokyo all the way to Almaty and Lagos.

The main idea here is: Ukraine has signed the Association Agreement with EU recently, we can see that the European markets become more open for Ukrainian goods. Why not use this? So we go to the fair and present ourselves, Ukrainian building materials and investment potential of our country. Another thing – it’s about heavy goods so you have to study carefully what kind of competitive products you can offer in regard to transportation costs.

Our next step is to pitch our exceptional offerings across local European fairs: think Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Sweden. And of course we should not overlook other big and promising markets – we plan to participate in fairs in UAE, Egypt and the MENA region as a whole.

Did the 2008 global recession boost the international competitiveness of Ukrainian producers of building materials?

Not in the first place. We can see that only after 2008 many industries started to flourish. And the reason for that was the weakness of the local currency and growing potential of the domestic market. For instance, thermal insulation (see pdf): until 2008 we imported almost 100% of it . Two new factories have been put up since those times and now Ukraine exports this quality product with a reasonable price-tag attached to it. We are seeing similar trends emerge in other sectors of construction industry in Ukraine.

So I’d rather say that the present crisis pushes Ukrainian manufacturers of building materials in the direction of foreign markets and makes them increase their competiveness. They have everything here to succeed: cheap and qualified labour, rich resources and weaker hryvna [Ukrainian currency] to boost our exports.

How much is the participation of Ukraine's delegation informed by Donbass reconstruction needs -- however bleak is the peace in Eastern Ukraine at the moment?

I have to say that our mission to BAU 2015 in regards to Donbass was more about informing our foreign partners: people needed information about what’s really happening there. Not from the news — they wanted to hear it directly from us Ukrainians, people who live and work here.

Regretfully, it is very hard to predict how the situation will develop given the current state that a significant part of Donbass is in. The fact remains pronouncing – we have 80% of infrastructural, housing and civil objects damaged and destroyed there. So we will have to deal with it afterwards. The only question for now is priorities – when exactly should we be rolling up our sleeves?

"More of Ukraine's working quarries need new technologies in processing," Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials' Manufacturers (left)
“More of Ukraine’s working quarries need new technologies in processing,” Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers (left)
Tells us more about the partnership with UFEMAT?

Europe’s UFEMAT is more of a merchants’ association rather than the producers’ union. In 2014 our Union became the full-bodied member of this organisation. Our agenda with UFEMAT is focused on the following aspects:

  • Ways of integration with Europe: energy-efficiency and sustainability in construction
  • Cooperation in science and technology
  • Information exchange on sales and distribution
  • and a pilot project to launch the Centre for European standards in Ukraine.

Our first big meeting with UFEMAT showed that we have what to offer to Europe: many of our products are certified for the EU and our price propositions are highly competitive. In March, we plan to continue developing relations through a visit of our delegation to Brussels. There we plan to meet several major builders’ merchants, visit Trade Fair Batibouw. And – last but not least – take part in a UFEMAT meeting where strategy for 2015 will be developed.

What are the key international markets as Ukrainian manufacturers of building materials see them? What are the prospects of getting a market share in those target markets?

For many years after Ukraine got its independence, the traditional markets for building materials were Russia, Kazakhstan and other ex-USSR countries. As Russia launched some restrictive measures aimed at Ukrainian imports — and has done it drastically since 2012 — our manufacturers started exploring Eastern European and Middle Eastern markets. Guess what: we have some success stories with Africa as well. And for the reasons I mentioned above these markets will remain our priorities for the near-term future.

Good quality, a sound raw materials base and cheap labour are the key factors for getting a share in these markets.

Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials' Manufacturers, takes to the mike: "Watch our bricks and insulation. We have about 30-40% of world reserves of white clay and kaolin"
Oleksandr Pietushkov, Chief International Officer at Ukrainian Union of Building Materials’ Manufacturers, takes to the mike: “Watch our bricks and insulation. We have about 30-40% of world reserves of white clay and kaolin”
What are the two low price/high quality materials by Ukraine's manufactures that you think we should definitely know about? How come it is Ukrainians who excel at manufacturing these?

I think it’s definitely bricks and insulation. Bricks – as we have about 30-40% of world reserves of white clay and kaolin and we mastered the production very well. For insulation, besides raw materials, we also have harnessed innovative technologies.

But there’s still a lot of work ahead. We need more ceramic tile and bathroom ceramics factories. There are more than 3,800 developed deposits for building materials production: high-melting clay, kaolin, limestone, gypsum, granite, gabbro, labradorite, basalt, resources for glass production etc. These deposits have huge export potential. For instance, only in Zhytomyr region (100-150 km away from Kyiv) there are 116 deposits of granite, gabbro and labradorite with proven reserves north of 150 million cubic metres. Regrettably, more than half of those deposits are not being processed and more of the working quarries need new technologies in processing.

Oleksandr, this is not your first time attending an international building fair. How is it different this time?

Before, we were mostly the visitors of different international exhibitions and now we are a full status participant of the fair. So it’s a drastic change, a big step for the industry and individual manufacturers alike. During the BAU 2015 we hosted a unique “Ukraine: invest in future!” business conference  presenting Ukraine’s construction industry and its potential for European and worldwide investors as well as trade partners.

Ukraine is a country of outstanding achievements, business opportunities and high potential. We need to construct, modernize, restore and repair nearly everything, and at a large scale: infrastructure and industrial facilities, housing and municipal buildings, social and cultural facilities. It is necessary to enhance the investment flows and increase the volume of trade turnover.

You can reach Oleksandr Pietushkov
via email on StartegLab@gmail.com or by phone at +380 67 245-02-90.

These are your Creative Slavs in Africa: from Ukrainian wife of Swazi king’s chef du protocole to Polish pilot in Russian Emperor’s air force

As our news screens beam out feeds about Miss South Africa Rolene Strauss taking the Miss World 2014 crown, we’d like to draw your attention to some Slav Africans gracing the podiums both in London and internationally. Plus a Russian Empire-born pioneering photographer of Central African peoples.

Representing the African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe at this year’s Miss World pageant was Djeissica Barbosa, daughter of a Ukrainian mother and São Tomean father.

Djeissica Barbosa in Angola's capital Luanda in 2014 (Photo from Ms Barbosa's Facebook page)
Djeissica Barbosa in Angola’s capital Luanda in 2014 (Photo from Ms Barbosa’s Facebook page)

 Djeissica Barbosa, filha de mãe ucraniana e de pai santomense, é o que se pode dizer uma mulata linda, esbelta, formosa e  tão doce como o mel:   olhos nos quais parece ressaltar o brilho das alvas e cintilantes estepes ucranianas

Some 4,000 km southeast of the Portuguese-speaking islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, internal designer Olena Dlamini of Ukraine has been calling Swaziland’s capital Mbabane her home for quite some time now. It was in 1987 — 48 years after the red Karelian stone statue of Lenin was displayed at the 1939 New York World’s Fair and 26 years before it was toppled during last year’s Euromaidan protests — that Olena met her future husband Felizwe Dlamini, then student of international law at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. By then, the larger-than-life-size statue — made of the same material as the communist leader’s mausoleum in Moscow — had been in the university’s main campus vicinity for some 40 years already.

After a stint at the Embassy of Swaziland in South Korea, Mr Dlamini was accompanied by his Ukrainian wife back to Swaziland in the year 2000.  This is  when he became responsible for the agenda of King Mswati III. As of March 2007, Olena Dlamini ran an internal design company Ramashka (‘Camomile’ in Russian).

Some 150 southwest of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv and 34 years before the 1917 Bolshevik revolution,  Kazimierz Zagórski is born to the Polish  noble Clan of Ostoja. Legend holds that Zhytomyr, the birthplace of this pioneering photographer of Central African peoples and customs, was around for 997 years when the famous Welsh journalist and explorer Henry Morton Stanley established what is now DRC’s capital Kinshasa and named it Léopoldville in honor of King Leopold II of Belgium.

Gallicizing his name to Casimir Zagourski, former Imperial Russian Air Force serviceman — and later a Lieutenant Colonel in the Polish army’s fight with the Bolsheviks — arrives in Leopoldville in December 1924 to soon become a leading photographer in the Belgian colony.

Casimir Zagourski in his studio in Kinshasa, 1925 (Source: Kosubaawate.blogspot.com)
Casimir Zagourski in his studio in Kinshasa, 1925 (Source: Kosubaawate.blogspot.com)

The local agent for Agfa film products, Zagourski produced a series of post-card images of Leopoldville in the 1920s and was invited to cover the visit of King Albert and Queen Elisabeth to the colony in 1928.

Back to Ukraine by way of Ghana, designer Beatrice Arthur — born in Odessa, when this major port city was part of Soviet Ukraine; with Russian, Polish, German and Ghanaian roots — is behind the label named B’ExotiQ.

Odesa-born designer Beatrice Arthur of Ghana
Odesa-born designer Beatrice Arthur of Ghana

After acquiring a BA in Spanish Literature, Linguistics and Sociology at the University of Ghana in 2000, Bee Arthur shocked the African Fashion scene by participating and winning the Kora Fashion Award at Sun City [northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa] in 2001. Bee was one of the designers that in 2006 were called upon by USAID to support a project that aimed to take young girls off the streets of Northern Ghana by involving them in sustainable income projects

The wife of former UN secretary general Kofi Annan owns her creations.

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This Russian-English app by Igor Kalinin will uncover a seasoned, as well as inspiring, international traveller in You

To download this free Android app you are invited to пожалуйста click here.

Download our essential Words Do Wonders app
WordsDoWonders – Android App by Igor Kalinin in partnership with Steppes in Sync

The Words Do Wonders app created by Ukraine’s India-based IT master Igor Kalinin in partnership with Steppes in Sync targets a seasoned, as well as inspiring, international traveller.

We have scoured the papers and flipped international news channels for you. We bet you know lots of words in our collection. The philological pearls that we worked hard to put at your fingertips 365 days a year are those inspired, consumed and deployed daily by the readers and writers, movers and shakers of this world. We are talking Bloomberg TV, FT and Monocle. We are talking WORDS THAT DO WONDERS TODAY!

The value the Words Do Wonders app brings to you is building on the thesaurus that your brain has collected over the years. We enrich it, streamline it for that cocktail chat on the roof of a posh NYC hotel to generate new opportunities; for that negotiation in a breezy Dubai bar to result in the deal you just wanted.

You can pick your words from three levels:

Words Do Wonders Basic – words that you know but we will help you go deeper and wider. You’ll be equipped to frequently impress your interlocutor

Words Do Wonders Intermediate – words that you think you know but we challenge that certainty of yours, one word at a time

Words Do Wonders Advanced – words that you need to know to become a successful and inspiring jet-setter

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