Areas identified for development are those, which according to my perspective would have an all-round beneficial effect on communities. The choice of processes to implement them would fit in with local conditions, and would be subject to modifications. Each activity would have zero-waste, zero pollution processes.
During the course of a conversation was asked: Which country would be my choice in Africa today for investing, in addition to the Caribbean and Northern Europe.
My answer: I’d look at investments in the same way as the other two geographic areas, from the point of view of how it would help in the economic empowerment of the common people.
The primary factor influencing my choice was was the political environment in that country. If that was stable, and was likely to be so in the future, with a low crime rate, then an operational strategy could be put into place. Foreign investors need to be insulated from local political pressures if a country is to benefit from the investment and technology they bring with them. They require the support of all political groupings for all-round benefit of communities. The second factor was the potential for development.
Narrowed my choice down to two countries, one on the west coast, and one on the east coast, and chose Djibouti.
All the areas would require significant investment, some more, some less. My simple answer is, that the required funds can be generated, if one knows how to go about the process.
In my case these investments would be driven more by socioeconomic objectives rather than a pure profit motive. It isn’t that profits won’t be made, they will be, tangible and intangible. A business model will ensure that a share of the profits up to the retail level, will go to those associated with the various projects.
Without getting into details, which form the subject matter of reports prepared by international consultants, presented in beautiful folders with a country report, charts, graphs, statistics, background matter, cash flow projections, etcetera, we shall proceed to what to my mind are the areas where I would like to be involved in.
The official title of the country is the Republic of Djibouti.
Quoting from earthwise.bgs.ac.uk:
The economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for 80% of GDP, with commercial activities focused on the country’s free trade policies and transport links. Industry, including fishing and fish processing, and growing salt production, accounts for around 17% of GDP. The desert environment limits agricultural production, which accounts for only 3% of GDP. Rural people traditionally relied on nomadic pastoralism, but rural populations are now small: three quarters of Djibouti’s inhabitants live in cities. Its limited natural resources mean that Djibouti relies heavily on energy and food imports. Despite the importance of services to the economy, there is very high unemployment. Nevertheless, relative political stability also means that the country has become an important country of passage for refugees, asylum seekers and economic migrants from surrounding countries.
Djibouti is an arid country with low and erratic rainfall, and limited surface water resources, and it relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking water and irrigation. Increases in water demand have led to intensive exploitation of groundwater from the mainly volcanic aquifers across the country, with consequent falling groundwater levels and groundwater quality deterioration in many areas. Periodic droughts in recent years, with reduced recharge, have put even more pressure on groundwater resources.
One of the immediate areas which comes to mind is the re-development of existing villages, towns, and cities, and the building up of new ones, offering economic opportunities, so that the population can be more widely dispersed and employed gainfully all over the country. I have no doubt that the Government would have thought of this aspect. All that remains is for those plans to be refined to be implemented, [investment].
Water — The Basic Building Block
Djibouti has a large sea coast. Our primary process for sourcing water supplies would be desalination, and taking it inland in phases till about 20 kilometres. [An assessment on taking pipelines further inland could be decided after that]. A secondary and simultaneous choice would be the use of Atmospheric Water Generators (AWG’s) for producing potable water from air. The Relative Humidity varies from 43% to 74%, well within the operating parameters of AWG’s.
Would coordinate with local authorities for processing waste water and sewage. Recycled water can be used for irrigation. Power can generated from sewage.
The major use of desalinated water would be for greening, (keeping in mind that we’re operating in a desert area), using suitable varieties of grass, and nutrient-based irrigation methods.
In most desalination processes, brine left over from the desalination process is released back into the sea. We would use it to make saltwater batteries, to be used in conjunction with solar and wind power facilities, in urban or rural areas for 24-hour power.
Rainwater Harvesting: Even though the rainfall is erratic, the potential for rainwater harvesting exists, and based on past patterns of flash floods, a system of storm-water channels and tanks for storage can be planned to prevent runoffs.
Freshwater Fish Farming: To open up another economic area would also explore the rearing of freshwater fish as an area of activity.
Note: The ocean between Djibouti, Yemen, Oman and other neighbouring countries have a very high level of oxygen depletion and are considered a ‘dead zone’. The amount of fish caught as time goes on will continue to decrease, as will their quality, affecting the fishing industry. The only way forward is mariculture and as mentioned above rearing of freshwater fish.
While on water let’s examine the water resource situation in Djibouti’s neighbour Ethiopia.
Ethiopia has 12 river basins with an annual runoff volume of 122 billion m3 of water and an estimated 2.6 – 6.5 billion m3 of ground water potential. This corresponds to an average of 1,575 m3 of physically available water per person per year, a relatively large volume. However, due to large spatial and temporal variations in rainfall and lack of storage, water is often not available where and when needed. Only about 3% of water resources are used, of which only about 11% (0.3% of the total) is used for domestic water supply. Source: ‘Water Resources’ on https://ethiopianinstitute.org/water-resources/
Storage resources can be organised along rivers, with generation of electricity by mini- and micro-hydro power plants. Large dams are not required, they do more damage than the benefits they are supposed to confer. Storm water drainage channels leading to storage tanks need to be planned for rainwater harvesting.
[Investments can be organised for a holistic plan. Ethiopia can also benefit from the growing of Industrial Hemp for creating a whole range of economic activity].
Industrial Hemp (the non-THC variety)
The primary choice of crop to start agricultural operations would be Industrial Hemp, IH, (from which over 27,000 products can be made), after which we could look at growing other crops, vegetables and fruits. They would be grown using organic methods without chemical fertilisers and using organic pesticides. IH is ready for harvesting in 90 to 120 days. [Industrial Hemp is not a source for THC]. Environmentally one acre of IH absorbs 4X the amount of Carbon Dioxide as one acre of grown trees. Hemp is ready for harvesting in 90 to 120 days, a grown tree takes 25+ years. It is also good for soil remediation, in this case it’ll be used to prepare the desert soil so that it can be used for planting other crops.
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Potential for establishing textile manufacturing facilities [fabrics, garments, furnishings]. Djibouti already has a weaving tradition in place, hemp fabrics will offer diversification. Production of hemp paper, as well as oil extraction facilities and units for production of edible downstream products. Hemp plastic units. Waste to energy units for using the biomass. Seed-cake after oil extraction can be used hemp flour, and for fish and cattle feed. Also manufactured wood suitable for a wide range of wood products.
[Generation of earning opportunities and jobs from each economic segment].
Soilless farming uses about 5% of the amount of water used in conventional farming, [ideal for arid areas], to grow pesticide free produce. The growing area in such farms have a multiplication factor, four to thirty times the ground area used for conventional growing. This initiative does involve an initial capital expenditure. Each such farm will have its own power supply using solar and wind, as well as cold storage’s, and reefers for transport and supply.
A part of such farms will be used for growing flowers, mainly to be used for extraction of essential oils to be used for manufacture of perfumes and cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products. The biomass after the flowers are harvested will be used to operate a waste to energy plant.
[Produce would be supplied for available for domestic consumption, food processing, and exports. Generation of earning opportunities and jobs].
Dairy Farming, Processed Products, Meat, Leather
With the availability of water, it would be possible to establish a series of dairy farms, (in addition to the existing ones), which would allow the production of milk, processed dairy products, meat, and hides. The availability of hides opens up the possibility of processing hides for fine leather, and thereby leather products.
Goats: Since goats are reared it would be worthwhile exploring the establishment of fixed farms for goat-rearing communities. Goats contribute to desertification, because they uproot grass by the roots when they graze, unlike other ungulates. Fenced-off rearing spaces with feeding troughs for the goats would enable rearing as well as preventing damage to the land.
[Goat milk, cheese, mutton, leather].
Djibouti from all reports is self-sufficient in generating electrical power, and has a surplus. All activity areas planned would generate their own power requirements — solar, wind, biomass.
Golf — Leisure, Tourism, Training
Djibouti has one desert golf course at Douda. It could be greened and made into a regular golf course, with a supply of desalinated water. Would like to develop another one or two, covered with solar panels, (150 acres+), which would house a golf academy to train young men and women from schools and colleges, to enable them to play professionally by the time they finish their studies. Lights would be fitted under the solar panels enabling it to be used as a day-and-night course.
If we consider desert heat as a resource, it can be used for cooling systems. Consider a completely covered stadium cooled using desert heat, with solar panels on top to provide power for the lighting, supported by wind power and battery storage systems.
The one I have in mind, would allow football (soccer) and hockey to be played in the centre and have a running track around it. (Used to have one like that in the school I studied in, except it wasn’t covered).
Indoor, cooled facilities for: tennis, badminton, basketball, and volleyball, any other indoor sport. These would provide facilities to sportsperson’s and the general public. However the major objective is to provide training facilities.
According to geological reports 60% to 70% of the country is covered with basalt rocks. Potential exists to establish manufacturing facilities for basalt fibre and rebars to be used in infrastructure, and exports. Basalt is not affected by sea water and does not corrode like steel.
Some More Thoughts
Aviation — current state
Of the five companies offering aviation services in Djibouti, who are shown to be active, only one has a fleet of two 25-year-old aircraft. There are several small airports over the country. Would require a comprehensive development plan encompassing both airports [size, services, engineering services] and aircraft [choice of aircraft, fleet size], to build up a viable aviation sector for it to be able to deliver economic benefits.
[Potential to collaborate or takeover an active company, and develop a regional airline, using turboprop aircraft, using them for passenger and cargo].
Transportation — Road and Rail
Haven’t touched on the subject of transportation, both road and rail. From available information a certain level of road and rail connectivity already exists. The challenge would be to develop new road and rail networks, and upgrade existing networks to provide smooth connectivity supporting economic activity of all kinds, as well as leisure travel.
Multimedia Studio Facilities, Skill Training
Most countries especially small ones possess a pool of talent in the arts with their own cultural traditions. However they’re hampered in reaching out to audiences due to a lack of production facilities. It would be worthwhile setting up studio facilities, audio and video, especially for young artistes to be able to reach out to a global audience, along with a skill centre for training, (at no cost to the trainees). It would be something like this. Link to proposed skill centre in Punjab.
With the availability of water and cooling systems
The availability of [desalinated] water, and water-based systems for cooling large areas, would make it possible to rear poultry (chicken, turkey, quail, duck, geese, etc.), by providing cooled halls for feeding areas, pools for the aquatic birds, and areas for the birds to roost. So the doors open for supply of eggs, meat, and processed/cured meat products, (hams, sausages, salamis, etc.), which makes it another income generating area for women’s groups. The [meat] waste can be processed for manure and other products — zero-waste, zero-pollution. Waste water would be recycled and used for watering grassy areas.
Apart from soilless farming mentioned above, available information suggests that there is a large scope for horticulture products, using both organic farming, and controlled environment pesticide free farming processes.
There are a lot of other areas which have potential and require looking into, which can be taken up once the main activities are established.
All in all Djibouti would be a good place to invest in for development. The underlying principle is that each area of development generates either jobs or earning opportunities, no raw materials are exported, only finished goods, and profit is not the sole motive.
Image credits: theodora.com/maps; technobasalt.com; golfadvisor.com; Unsplash.com — MRJN Photography, Maira Salazar, David Nicolai, Paula Hermann, Alana Harris, Annie Spratt, Jonathan Borba, Eilive Sonas-Aceron, Ertiom Vallat, Maksim Shutov, Alice Butenko, Nadine Primeau, Megan Markham; Source for ‘Uses for Industrial Hemp’ image — truthinsideofyou.org