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Gayam Motor Works & Sokowatch Launch East Africa’s First Commercial Electric Tuk-Tuks

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Published on December 4th, 2020 | by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

December 4th, 2020 by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai 


There are more than 10 million informal shops in African cities. These are known as Spaza Shops in South Africa, Dukas in Tanzania, Tuck Shops in Zimbabwe, and Kiosks in Kenya. These shops sell over $180 billion worth of goods every year. These informal shops form a critical part of the economy, which is why Sokowatch, a B2B e-commerce startup wants to help them revamp their supply chain by unlocking efficiencies and reducing stock outages. By solving the logistical challenges for shop operators in this market, Sokowatch helps drive down the cost of basic goods for the consumers. Sokowatch enables informal retailers to order products at any time via SMS or mobile app and receive free same-day delivery to their store. This makes it easier for shopkeepers to source goods and helps manufacturers ensure that their products are consistently available to consumers.

Sokowatch has been using 178 fossil fuel-powered tuk-tuks and has operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda, where its operations have enabled them to generate a lot of data. Leveraging this historic purchasing data, Sokowatch evaluates retailers to provide them with access to credit and other financial services typically not available to informal businesses. According to its website, Sokowatch’s systems track real-time sales and orders across thousands of stores. Access to market trends and purchasing habits enables manufacturers to tailor their marketing strategies and allows Sokowatch to offer personalized promotions and business insights to individual retailers. Sokowatch has recently added 8 electric tuk-tuks to its operations in Uganda and plans to deploy 8 in Rwanda and expand the rollout to Kenya and Tanzania thereafter.

Sokowatch has partnered with Indian electric tuk-tuk manufacturer Gayam Motor Works (GMW) on this project, a first in Africa in the commercial electric tuk-tuk sector for hyperlocal deliveries. GMW is pushing ahead with its global expansion plans, following successful rollouts of its electric 3-wheelers in the UK and EU markets. GMW’s SmartAuto – Taskman model is India’s first electric 3-wheeler to receive European certification. The company has already delivered passenger and cargo EVs to customers from France, Portugal, Italy, and London.

“We truly do believe that electric vehicles are the future of mobility, specifically in Africa, especially when it comes to powering commerce or retail across the continent. Our preliminary analysis indicates that we can achieve significant cost savings, perhaps even more than 50% on what we currently pay to operate our traditional fleet. Over time we do believe that these pilots (in Uganda and Rwanda) will prove to be successful, and we can deploy possibly hundreds of these vehicles across east Africa.” – Daniel Yu, Sokowatch’s Chief Executive Officer.

The tuk-tuks are being used to deliver from local warehouses to customer storefronts. In a region where cities are plagued by gridlock, with narrow and potholed roads, Sokowatch adopted GMW’s 3-wheeler EVs as a primary means of transport to deliver the goods. The move is a potentially welcome effort in a region where cities are grappling with growing air pollution caused by exhaust from beat-up and poorly serviced vehicles.

“In Kampala, air quality is 6x worse than global standards and as a company built around improving the livelihoods of local communities, we took the direct approach to address the issue. Every day, we witness the impact of carbon emissions and noise pollution in this city, which is why this project is so important and also why we’re proud to be a company leading active change.” – Peter Muzoora, Sokowatch’s Country Manager for Uganda.

Although the switch to electric tuk-tuks around the globe will be driven by the economics, the poor air quality in Kampala illustrates again how important it is to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in this region. Uganda is also one of the best places for EVs on the continent. It has moved very quickly from having a shortage to the current situation where it finds itself in the enviable position of sitting with excess generating capacity. Uganda’s current installed capacity stands at 1252 megawatts (MW) against a domestic demand of 767 MW. 80% of this generation capacity comes from hydropower stations. The country can move to save a lot of foreign currency spent on petrol and diesel imports by substituting some of that with locally generated electricity.

GMW’s SmartAuto was launched in 2015 and is India’s first electric 3-wheeler to be powered by a Li-Ion battery. GMW SmartAuto can be fully recharged in 3 hours, offers a range of 100km/charge, has a top speed of 50 kilometers per hour, gradeability of 20°, and a payload of 600 kilogram. The vehicle is already being used by several ecommerce majors such as Amazon, IKEA, Flipkart, BigBasket, Grofers, Walmart, and other logistics firms in India for hyperlocal delivery applications.

“This is a transformational opportunity for us. With majority of the companies simply trying to import from China and assemble locally, there is no control over serviceability of components.  We have spent more than half a decade on R&D, and indigenously developed an electric powertrain suitable for Indian road and extreme weather conditions. This headway has put us in a unique position today, as the demand from ecommerce firms for a reliable EV is growing exponentially.” – Raja Gayam, GMW’s Chief Executive Officer.

“Deliveries are a lifeline to vulnerable communities in these hard times, light commercial EV is an affordable and smarter way of moving goods around and addressing the last mile challenge. We are experiencing increased demand for our EVs after the pandemic from both domestic and global markets,” says Sri Harsha Bavirisetty, GMW’s Chief Operations Officer.

“Last mile is one of the highest growth sectors in the Transport & Logistics (T&L) industry, however the final leg of delivery is challenging, and can comprise up to 25-30% of total transportation cost. There is a clear opportunity for small and light commercial EVs in this segment as majority of last-mile deliveries are being done using diesel LCVs today.”

We have seen several startups, such as Bodawerk in Uganda, Ampersand in Rwanda, and Ecobodaa in Kenya introduce electric 2-wheelers in East Africa. It is good to see electric tuk-tuks now being introduced. Tuk-tuks are very popular in east Africa and there is potentially quite a huge addressable market for electrification of 3-wheelers.

All images courtesy of Gayam Motor Works 
 


 


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Tags: Africa, Electric Tuk-Tuks, Gayam Motor Works, Sokowatch, tuk tuks


About the Author

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.



Source: https://cleantechnica.com/2020/12/04/gayam-motor-works-sokowatch-launch-east-africas-first-commercial-electric-tuk-tuks/

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5 radical visions for a 2050 food system

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Just over a year ago, the Rockefeller Foundation put out a global call for proposals for radical reform of our food systems. More than 1,300 teams from 119 countries responded. The pile of submissions was whittled down to 79 semifinalists and then, last week, to 10 “bold ideas for tackling some of the world’s most pressing food systems challenges.” Each winner was awarded $200,000 to pursue their vision for reform.

The winning proposals cover a dizzying range of locations and issues — from food sovereignty on a Native American reservation to plant-based diets in metropolitan Beijing. But as I read them, the commonalities seem as prominent as the differences. Embedded in the ideas is an emerging consensus on the critical ingredients for food system reform, regardless where it takes place. 

I encourage you to browse the final selection and see for yourself, but here’s my reading of that consensus:

Food systems must connect to local communities. There’s a stunning example of this need in the proposal from the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The reservation occupies almost 2,000 square miles, yet has just three grocery stores. There are plenty of local farms, but most grow commodity crops such as soybeans. The result is a food desert surrounded by fertile land.

Technology is part of the solution. Agtech is often associated with highly efficient yet unsustainable practices, but the same tech can benefit sustainable approaches. In their vision of a holistic food system for the Netherlands, for example, Wageningen University researchers imagine farmers using drones to precisely target nutrient use. At the Stone Barns Center in upstate New York, the team wants to build a cold storage lab dedicated to extending the season for local crops.

It’s got to be regenerative. Almost every winner made it clear that regenerative agriculture is central to their vision. That was predictable given that the foundation sought proposals for a “regenerative and nourishing food future,” but it nevertheless reflects the growing importance of regenerative ag in food policy. (And perhaps the waning importance of organic?)

From linear to circular. Circular processes — the transformation of crop residues into compost, for instance — are a common feature of food system reform. But the Wageningen team ups the ante with a rallying cry for circular agriculture, circular cooking and circular chefs: “By 2050,” they write, “we have replaced the wasteful, linear model of our current food system with a circular one.” Among other things, this includes limiting livestock to numbers that can be supported on food waste and food byproducts. Which brings us to…

Plant-based diets. No surprise to hear entrants from North American and Europe advocate for this: These are regions where a reduction in emissions from meat production is seen as an essential way to reduce the climate impact of food. Perhaps only because I know less about food debates elsewhere, I was interested to see entries from China and Nigeria that also placed alternative proteins at the heart of their visions. 

Before I sign off, I’ll mention one other, more controversial, commonality. Many visions are either explicitly or implicitly pitched in opposition to Big Ag. I see where this comes from: Chemical inputs and monocultures and livestock farming have undeniable negative impacts.

But Big Ag is more than that. It brings efficient land use, which prevents native ecosystems being converted to farmland, and sophisticated supply chains that provide year-round abundance at low prices. I don’t say this to gloss over the sector’s problems, but as we imagine a better system, we shouldn’t ignore the benefits of the current one.

Source: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/5-radical-visions-2050-food-system

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Pioneering projects celebrated by foundation behind water documentary

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Salesforce tower in downtown San Francisco: The software firm was lauded for its support for blackwater reuse in a commercial high-rise building.

Organisations that have embraced innovation to protect and enhance water supplies have been recognised for their pioneering work by the foundation behind the recent documentary film Brave Blue World.

Corporations including Apple, Nike and Facebook, along with utilities such as South East Water, Australia, have been named as recipients of the inaugural Lighthouse Awards, launched in December 2020 by the Brave Blue World Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to scientific and educational storytelling. The winning Lighthouse organisations, “named so because they are shining a light for others to follow”, have developed new ways of utilising technology, finance or partnerships to reduce their impact in water stressed regions or build resilience of their local water systems.

Their groundbreaking achievements were discovered by the Brave Blue World Foundation during the research phase of its powerful documentary, Brave Blue World, which aims to drive positive change in water.

Brave Blue World Foundation founder Paul O’Callaghan said: “Every industry has a vanguard; the pioneers we will all come to follow. In water, the work of these Lighthouses is beyond critical if we are to ensure there is enough freshwater for future generations.

“When exploring the world for fascinating water stories during the making of Brave Blue World, we met several companies that were blazing a trail of innovation, as they strived to become sustainable and circular in their operations.

“Wanting to celebrate and amplify their achievements is what led us to launch the Lighthouse Awards. In doing so, we hope to inspire others to take bold steps towards creating a sustainable water future and raise greater awareness of the fascinating work happening in the global water community.”
The winners’ selection process, carried out by adjudicators from technology market intelligence company BlueTech Research, was based on a number of criteria and split into project themes.
These included blue-green infrastructure, water reuse, smart water, water catchment enhancement, regeneration, innovation in policy, innovation in communications and innovation in partnerships.

The recipients of the Lighthouse Awards 2020 are:

Nike
Through partnership and engagement, sportswear multinational Nike has encouraged its suppliers to explore ways of reducing water used in their manufacturing processes. This has enabled knitted textile supplier, Vertical Knits, to introduce innovative water recycling and manufacturing process improvements at its site in Yucatan, Mexico, reducing freshwater use by 85% per kilogram of fabric. It has also achieved a 50% reduction in energy savings. The project will significantly reduce Nike’s overall water footprint, as well as the ease the impact on supplies at a local level.

Salesforce
Salesforce, a global leader in CRM (customer relationship management), collaborated with the City of San Francisco and Boston Properties to implement a blackwater system in Salesforce Tower San Francisco, the company’s worldwide headquarters, making it one of the first partnerships in the United States between a city government, a building owner and a tenant to support blackwater reuse in a commercial high-rise building. In Salesforce Tower, wastewater will be collected and treated onsite and works in tandem with the building’s rain catchment system. Once treated, the recycled water will recirculate through a separate pipe system to serve non-drinkable uses in the building for all tenants, like drip irrigation, toilet flushing and cooling towers. The system will be the largest onsite water recycling system in a commercial high-rise building in the United States, saving more than seven million gallons (approximately 26,500 m3) of fresh water a year. If these techniques become standard in urban areas, the impact on water resources will be significant, particularly in water-scarce and growing areas such as Miami and Las Vegas.

Facebook
Prompted by relentless drought in the region, the Menlo Park, California headquarters of social media giant Facebook developed an onsite blackwater recycling system. The Menlo Park system recycles approximately 17 million gallons (approximately 64,000m3) of water annually between two buildings, setting the standard for commercial building recycling across the region. This is the first and largest district-scale blackwater recycling system in a commercial building in California.

Apple
When examining how best to meet the water needs for its data centre in Prineville, Oregon, technology leader Apple realised that one of the drivers of water stress in the basin was seasonal availability. Both the City and Apple faced a challenge in meeting their peak summer water needs, when the largely agricultural region also faces high demand. Apple partnered with the City of Prineville to explore the feasibility of an aquifer storage and recovery project, which would withdraw small amounts of groundwater evenly thoughout the year and store it for use during the summer peak, or even across years in the case of drought. Apple funded the US$8.7M project, which will store 180 million gallons (approximately 681,375m3) annually for the City, and which, through the Deschutes Basin groundwater mitigation program, also returns an equal amount of water to the Crooked River to maintain instream flows. This approach demonstrates the value of taking time to understand the specific context of each basin, and devise solutions through partnership with other stakeholders that can address the drivers of water stress and the needs of all users.

Heineken
Heineken Spain launched a project with landscape restoration expert Commonland and the Andalusian government, to restore four degraded lagoons in the wetlands of Doñana, near Seville, by improving soil structure, water filtration and replanting trees. The brewing company’s aim was to compensate and return 420,000m3 of water each year to Doñana. Research reveals the project balanced more than one million m3 of water per year, doubling the initial target and creating a successful template for restoration globally.

San Francisco Public Utilities Commission
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission’s pioneering approach to water reuse is working on both a state and national level in the United States, helping to establish guidance and policy frameworks. Its achievements include leading San Francisco to becoming first city in the US to mandate newly built buildings, of over 250,000 ft² (approximately 23,225m²), to install onsite water reclamation systems.

South East Water, Australia
South East Water, Australia Aquarevo is a unique collaboration between Australian utility South East Water and developer Villawood Properties. They have created a residential development, south east of Melbourne, where homes feature an unprecedented range of water-saving features, such as a system that captures rainwater for use in baths and showers, as well as in-home water reuse technologies to ensure efficiency standards and monitoring. The development is on track to become Australia’s most water efficient urban housing development.

The Glenmorangie Distillery
The Glenmorangie whiskey distillery, in the far north of Scotland, overlooks the protected Dornoch Firth. In a unique research and action partnership, Glenmorangie has collaborated with the Marine Conservation Society and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, on a project to preserve the current diversity of marine life and reintroduce the rare European flat oyster. The project led to the return of 20,000 oysters and Glenmorangie is now helping conservationists restore oyster populations in at least 15 European countries.

Intel
Intel has invested in multiple watershed projects through collaboration with The Nature Conservancy to fund a portfolio of projects that solve local water challenges. Their goal for 2030 is to achieve net positive water use by conserving 60 billion gallons (227 million m3) of water and funding external water restoration projects. In Bangalore, India Intel partnered with Clean International who is working with a local NGO. Bangalore was famous for its lakes which have been degraded by pollution. Together, they are rebuilding the natural infrastructure of the lake, that was there at one point to promote groundwater recharge. At Lake Nanjapura, they are excavating sediment, taking the sediment that they recover and building a walking path around the lake, planting trees to shade the water to create a natural storage bowl for water, thus making sure that no drop of water is wasted in this dry region and every drop of rainwater is stored for future use.

Xylem and Manchester City Football Club
Water technology provider Xylem and Manchester City Football Club launched a partnership to “challenge water complacency among one billion people globally by engaging football fans and the general population”. Over the past two years, the partnership has exceeded all expectations by a gaining total reach of more than 770 million engagements across all platforms, including through an awareness-raising film and a unique Football & WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) Education Framework. This partnership is educating the general public on water and encouraging water awareness and stewardship globally.

More details on the Lighthouse Awards 2020 are available at www.braveblue.world/lighthouseawards

Source: https://envirotecmagazine.com/2021/01/14/pioneering-projects-celebrated-by-foundation-behind-water-documentary/

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New research highlights impacts of weedkiller on wildlife

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Water flea (Moina macrocopa) under microscope view

Prolonged exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of the weedkiller Roundup causes significant harm to keystone species according to new research at the University of Birmingham.

A team in the University’s School of Biosciences used waterfleas, or Daphnia, to test the effects prolonged exposure to concentrations of Roundup deemed safe by regulatory agencies.

They found that even at approved regulatory levels, the weedkiller causes embryonic development failure, significant DNA damage, and also interferes with the animals’ metabolism and gut function.

These findings are important since Daphnia are at the heart of aquatic food webs. They can be used to assess the impacts of environmental changes on ecosystems. The results also offer a starting point for tracking these effects across different species, including the potential effects of herbicides on humans.

Lead researcher, Dr Luisa Orsini, says: “Research surrounding Roundup has been controversial since it first appeared on the market in the 1970s. Claims that it causes diseases and disorders ranging from cancer to autism stack up against industry-paid reports arguing that the product has no untoward effects.

“The problem is that much of the evidence is rooted in outdated toxicity tests which only look at the number of animals that die on exposure to extremely high concentrations of these chemicals. These tests also overlook the pathological effects arising from long-term exposure to low doses.

“What we’re proposing is that toxicity is measured by looking at what happens to the animal at a molecular and fitness level following long-term exposure, which encompasses the entire animal life cycle.”

This ‘systems biology’ approach will enable researchers to understand the changes caused by these chemicals on fundamental functions, such as the ability to metabolize sugars or to repair wound tissue. By using similarity in molecular functions across species, the researchers can also infer the implications of these chemicals on humans.

The approach tested by the researchers can be applied to a wide number of chemicals in the environment. As well as herbicides, the team is applying their methods to investigate insectides, antinflammatory drugs, antibiotics and heavy metals (arsenic), commonly found in contaminated water supplies around the world.

The team is working with the UK Environment Agency to bring new methods to regulatory agencies to screen for chemicals and their effect on biodiversity. Scientists and the Environment Agency have a long term goal of modernizing environmental practice to more effectively regulate the use of chemicals and mitigate their impact on humans and the environment.

“Using our methods it will be possible to identify and rank the most harmful chemicals that are getting into the environment,” says Dr Orsini. “We can’t stop environmental contamination in one step, but by identifying the worst offenders, we can work with industrial partners in a more targeted and effective way.”

Source: https://envirotecmagazine.com/2021/01/14/new-research-highlights-impacts-of-weedkiller-on-wildlife/

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Knocking landfill on the head: Recycling scheme celebrates three years

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hardhats

The National Hard Hat Recycling Scheme recently celebrated three years in operation. It was introduced in November 2017, with the intention of providing a user-friendly method for old hard hats to bypass traditional waste disposal routes, thereby ensuring end-of-life hats could go directly into reprocessing.

The group behind the scheme, Yes Recycling, initially launched it as a scheme for the construction industry. This followed 6 months working with Berkeley Homes. The firm then built a bespoke recycling capability at its Buckinghamshire facility specifically to recycle hard hats. This built on its experience with developing new recycling methods for a range of everyday plastic items, including plastic banknotes, crisp packets, coffee cups and shop hangers.

Yes Recycling said hard hat recycling presented some unusual challenges, perhaps unsurprising with a product that has been designed to be difficult to destroy. But the group claims to have succeeded in finding a way to break the hats down and recover the precious plastics.

Since its inception the scheme has predominantly grown through word-of-mouth.It now boasts members from a disparate range of sectors, including transport, utilities, defence, wildlife conservation, tree-surgery, extreme sports and construction. Its membership is drawn from every corner of the UK and is growing daily.

Sally Marquis, a Technical Surveyor with Network Rail, shared her experience: “Recycling our hard hats through Yes Recycling has enabled us to support our Environmental Sustainability Strategy by reducing waste to landfill through the waste hierarchy. It is positive to see companies such as Yes Recycling investing in initiatives to support businesses in contributing to the circular economy.

“Maybe in the future, an old hard hat could be recycled into a new one and we fully support that process.”

Director of Yes Recycling, Omer Kutluoglu, said of the scheme, “When we launched it, we really didn’t know if the scheme would take off or not. But with the encouragement of Berkeley Homes, we gave it a go. I’m really glad we did. The response has been astonishing. We have been met with a wall of enthusiasm…and not just in the initial launch phase, but an enthusiasm sustained over the last three years.”

“The consistent growth and success of the scheme is testament to people across the UK determined to do the right thing, not just for themselves but for their companies and the environment.
Their enthusiasm and positivity is immensely uplifting. Behind every single membership lies unsung heroes making a difference.”

Since the scheme’s inception, members have sent in many thousands of hard hats. These are broken down and the different materials (including different polymer types) are separated and recovered. The recovered materials are then cleaned, filtered and re-made into new plastics ready to go back into British industry.

Omer continued, “One day we hope that we can make this a fully circular process, where the recycled material from the hard hats is put back directly into new ones.” But for now, he said, the group is happy to ensure all valuable raw material used in making hard hats “is properly recovered and fully recycled back into British manufacturing at end-of-life.”

For more information on the National Hard Hat Recycling Scheme, visit: www.yesrecycling.org/hard-hat-recycling

Source: https://envirotecmagazine.com/2021/01/14/knocking-landfill-on-the-head-hardhat-recycling-scheme-celebrates-three-years/

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