Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Renewable Energy for Power in Nigeria?

Renewable Energy for Africa

Tom Coogan, a fellow alum of the Yale School of Management and Facebook friend, posted a recent photo that intrigued me. He was in Northern Nigeria at the launching of a renewable energy project.

Tom on right. His wife from East Africa is next to him. Project Director is next to her.

Tom on right. His wife from East Africa is next to him. Project Director is next to her.

I found the story about his project on the website of The project uses waste to generate power.

“Dubbed Waste2Watt, this first of its kind renewable energy project in [Nigeria], is generating 20 kilowatts of power, after converting agricultural and communal organic waste into electricity, by use of a biogas digester. The electric power generated is then distributed via a mini-grid to the villagers.”

Fatima Ademoh is the Project Developer. She says the project is providing electricity for 550 families. She hopes to expand to other towns and villages in Nigeria.

And why was Tom visiting the project and sharing the photo? He is Regional Program Director at the African Development Foundation. Their funding helped get the project off the ground.

“For the project to be implemented the United States African Development Foundation provided $100,000 in funding through the Power Africa Off-grid Energy Challenge.” The money was used to build the biodigester that is required to turn the waste into fuel.

Can you see where they are pointing in the photo?

If you would like to see more fascinating stories about renewable energy go to OffGridNigeria.

The Largest City in 2100?

This is the first image in the interactive chart. You'll see the changes if you click on the link.

This is the first image in the interactive chart. You’ll see the changes if you click on the link to the chart.

Professor Vinnie Ferraro at Mount Holyoke College, in his daily blog for students, sent this.

“The Global Cities Institute at the University of Toronto has published a study of urbanization trends in the 21st century. Given current trends, the Institute predicts that in the year 2100 the four largest cities in the world will be: 1) Lagos, Nigeria; 2) Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; 3) Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; and 4) Mumbai, India. The projections are a dramatic shift away from the historical patterns of urbanization and suggest that global dynamism will be located in Africa.”

The 119-page study is full of statistics. The chart that Vinnie sent, made from the data, is fascinating.

Will Lagos, if it becomes the largest city in the world, still be as chaotic as it is today? Will our grandchildren or great-grandchildren be able to enjoy the global dynamism?

Preserving and Growing Inequality 

David Brooks says that the educated class which includes him, me, and most of his readers, is harmful to the future of our country. He describes some of the structural ways that the “haves” perpetuate the inequality.

“Richard Reeves of the Brookings Institution recently published a book called “Dream Hoarders” detailing some of the structural ways the well educated rig the system.

“The most important is residential zoning restrictions. Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.”

Barriers like these do not just preserve the inequality, but widen the divisions.

College admissions is the second huge barrier, Brooks says. Upper-middle class parents are able to spend more time with their children, ensure their schools have everything they need, and provide extra support for getting into the most competitive colleges, not to mention those “legacy” admissions.

But, he says, the “informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent” may be even more important.

“American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, ‘You are not welcome here.’”

What are those signifiers? Clearly reading David Brooks’ column is one! I think just reading The New York Times itself counts. So does having the right taste in wine and Pilates, and knowing about “intersectionality,” he says.

I thought his column was very good. He made me think of two instances. The first is where I believe the cultural signs have made me feel included.

One is what I describe in the introduction to my new book. I talk about being comfortable in Westport CT and contrast it with the sense of belonging in my husband’s village. Here’s what I say:

Now I live happily in Westport Connecticut. Here I’ve found my own “tribe.” The people I know best share my liberal and progressive values. Most people don’t look askance at me, a white woman, with my black husband, children, or grandchildren. I can often go to an event in town and find people I know. It takes just a few sentences even with strangers in the town to establish a connection around mutual acquaintances, shared ideas, or common experiences. But even with this feeling of belonging, it will never be “my place” the way Nanka is for its people. I could move away and belong somewhere else.

The second instance is remembering high school and even to some extent college where I felt I was excluded. I was not part of the “in” group.

Do you know what I mean? If you don’t, it may because you were “in.” I recall my surprise when I said something about feeling left out to two high school classmates, both as “in” as you could get! Both said they had no idea what I was talking about!

As for Brooks’ column, one reader said in a comment, “I think this column, in it’s tone and substance, is about as elitist as anything you reference in the editorial.”

What do you think?

In Support of Brooks’ Statements About Elitism?

Why are Wealthy White Communities Forming Their Own School Districts?

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.


  1. I love the name “Waste2Watt” and the cleverness of this way to solve two problems at once–get rid of waste and generate power without burning non-renewables.