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Ground-breaking test bed for new offshore Wind Technologies

Ground-breaking test bed for new offshore Wind Technologies

Clean Technica in an article dated April 10th, 2018 by reported that the world’s most powerful wind turbine, the first of two 8.8 megawatt (MW) turbines, has been successfully installed at Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre off the coast of North East Scotland, which is set to be a ground-breaking test bed for new offshore wind technologies.

Vattenfall is a leading European energy company, that for more than 100 years has electrified industries, supplied energy to people’s homes and modernised our way of living through innovation and cooperation.

World’s Most Powerful Wind Turbine Installed At Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre


 

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay, Scotland, was conceived as a 92.4 MW, 11 turbine offshore wind test and demonstration facility. The project was initially caught up in a protracted legal battle with none other than then-real estate magnate Donald Trump — who promptly lost all legal challenges to prevent the construction of an offshore wind farm he considered would be an eyesore for members of his nearby Trump International Golf Club.

Since then, however, progress has proceeded rapidly, and the hopes of many have come to fruition with the creation of a next-generation testbed for new offshore wind technologies, such as the recently demonstrated suction bucket jacket foundations — which I maintain are cooler than they sound. Supported by the massive 25,000 tonne Asian Hercules III floating crane (seen below), the foundations for the EOWDC are being installed using a new method of securing the massive towers to the seafloor that is faster, more environmentally friendly and quiet, and much easier to uninstall if and when necessary.

Now, the next phase of construction has resulted in the installation of one of two wind turbines which have been specifically enhanced to increase their output by modifying their internal power modes. Specifically, the two turbines have been increased from 8.4 MW to 8.8 MW, which in turn increases EOWDC’s output to 93.2 MW, and as such it will generate 70% of Aberdeen’s domestic electricity demand while displacing 134,128 tonnes of CO2 annually. This is the first time an 8.8 MW wind turbine has been installed for commercial application.

It might not sound a lot — an increase of 0.4 MW — but the EOWDC is intended to serve as a demonstration facility, first and foremost, and testing the application of these incremental increases to wind turbine output could yield significant benefits. Two wind turbines modified such may only increase overall output by 0.8 MW, but a wind farm made up of 100 of these turbines would benefit from a 40 MW increase, simply by modifying existing turbines.

“The turbines for the EOWDC, Scotland’s largest offshore wind test and demonstration facility, help secure Vattenfall’s vision to be fossil fuel free within one generation,” said Gunnar Groebler, Vattenfall’s Head of Business Area Wind. “The EOWDC, through its innovative approach to cost reduction and pioneering technologies, leads the industry drive towards generating clean and competitive wind energy power – one that will reinforce Scotland’s global energy status.”

The V164-8.4 MW and V164-8.8 MW wind turbines were manufactured and modified by MHI Vestas, and have an enormous tip height of 191 meters, with 80 meter blades.

“The first turbine installation is a significant achievement and credit to the diligence and engineering know-how of the project team and contractors,” added EOWDC project director at Vattenfall, Adam Ezzamel. “For it to be one of the 8.8MW models makes it an even more momentous moment because it further endorses the EOWDC as a world-class hub of offshore wind innovation.

“We are very excited by the cutting-edge technology deployed on all the turbines and it is remarkable that just one rotation of the blades can power the average UK home for a day.”

The news was unsurprisingly met with appreciation from UK environmental groups as well.

“Scotland is home to approximately 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resource and projects like Vattenfall’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre in Aberdeen promise to harness this potential on a massive scale,” said Stephanie Conesa, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables. “This ground-breaking facility leads Aberdeen’s ongoing transition from fossil fuels to renewables, and reinforces Scotland’s global energy status.

“As the windiest country in Europe with some of the deepest waters, we should be proud of Scotland’s burgeoning offshore wind industry,” Conesa added. “With many more promising offshore wind sites on our doorstep, we hope to see similar facilities deployed in Scottish waters in future so we can fully utilise our country’s natural resources.”

“The installation of the first of these powerful turbines at Aberdeen Bay is another milestone in Scotland’s renewables story,” added Gina Hanrahan, Acting Head of Policy at WWF Scotland. “Offshore wind, which has halved in cost in recent years, is critical in the fight against climate change, helping to reduce emissions, keep the lights on and create thousands of jobs across the Scotland and the UK.

“Developments like this have an important role to play in securing the Scottish Government’s target to meet half of all Scotland’s energy demand from renewables by 2030.”

via April 11 Energy News

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International Students in Britain and the English language requirements

International Students in Britain and the English language requirements

In the United Kingdom, all universities state their English language requirements in writing, speaking, listening and reading and have them checked through various tests with the minimum grade overall, and usually the minimum grades required specifically tailored for each course.  International Students in Britain and the English language requirements are a problematic that is recurrent at every start of a new academic year.

The reasons are various.

The affluence of worldwide candidates coupled with the ever-increasing university costs have over the years been the influencing factors of this seeking higher mastery levels of the English language from each and every one.

We republish this article of Bobby Pathak, Heriot-Watt University not only because of the great majority of the MENA’s youth obvious interest in universities of the United Kingdom but to also try and lend a hand to all. .

Do international students in Britain need better English skills?

File 20170905 13709 bai7ol
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The start of the academic year is fast approaching, with new students from across the UK looking forward to starting university with a mix of trepidation and excitement.

The UK is also a popular place for international students to study, given that it has some of the best universities in the world. This means that many UK students studying at a British university will be joined in their lectures by students from around the world.

The latest UK Council for International Student Affairs report shows that Chinese students studying at UK universities have far exceeded any other nationality since 2013. The same report also reveals that China is the only country showing significant increases compared with other non-EU countries where recruitment is virtually stagnant.

For many of these students from China, this may be the first time they are educated in only English. And there is the expectation that these students will be able to fully understand and keep up with other students.

Language ability

Having adequate English language skills is important to international students, as there’s no point in them turning up on their first day only to realise they don’t understand the curriculum. In the same way, this proficiency is also important to native English speakers – given that many courses require an element of group work and seminar discussions. Universities don’t want to accept students who will ultimately fail their course either.

International students are offered a place at UK universities on the condition that they have a certain level of English language proficiency. This is checked through a UK Home Office approved test known as the Secured English Language Test.

International students can sometimes struggle with the language.
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In theory, students sit the test, pass and then look forward to starting their new life in a new country. But things get problematic when students do not achieve the required score. In this case, universities may then offer an additional pre-sessional programme of English language study at an extra cost to the student. If completed successfully, this allows these students onto their chosen course.

So far, so good. But the the problem here is that many students do not actually take the Secured English Language Test at the end of their pre-sessional programme. This means that it’s never categorically known if, by the end of the summer course, a student’s language proficiency is at the level originally required by the university.

Testing times

That said, it’s not in the interest of universities to set a student up for failure. But surely if the entry requirement of a university course is a certain grade in the Home Office exam, then the same exam should be given at the end of these programmes. This would help to maintain a level playing field for all students on the course.

As someone who works on these pre-sessional programmes as an assistant professor, I believe there is clearly a value in teaching English for academic purposes. These sessions are also a time when nonnative learners can get a sense of the UK’s academic culture along with the conventions they will be expected to follow – something some UK students would also benefit from, too.

International students need to be made to feel welcome.
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But of course, the point of the programmes is about getting students up to a certain standard of English. Perhaps then the answer is for the Home Office approved tests to be changed to better reflect what is being covered in university pre-sessional programmes.

What this all boils down to is that universities must make sure they are doing enough to support international students. And this support is particularly important given the outcome of the EU referendum and the UK’s apparent fixation with immigration. In this way, the numbers speak for themselves – international students wanting to come and study in the UK is no longer something universities can simply take for granted.

Bobby Pathak, Assistant Professor (Pre-Sessional) English for Academic Purposes, Heriot-Watt University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

7 Must Have Student-Collaboration Apps

7 Must Have Student-Collaboration Apps

An article of The Tech Edvocate written by Matthew Lynch and published on Aug 09, 2017 gives an idea on how education has evolved into increased depth mainly through more reliance on digital computation. This calls on diverse and bespoke application software. In the author’s opinion, these number 7 must have student-collaboration Apps that are the most used ones for the specific capabilities of each.

Would this article apply to the MENA region as well ?

7 Must Have Student-Collaboration Apps, Tools, and Resources

Collaboration in the classroom helps students process and deepen knowledge. Students also develop important real-world skills like problem-solving, communication, teamwork, and leadership.

When you choose the right tools, incorporating technology can further enhance student collaboration and learning outcomes. Here are seven of the best student-collaboration apps, tools, and resources for you to try this school year.

  1. Google Apps for Education

With Google Docs, students can share and collaborate on documents. Color-coded icons show who is typing or editing what in real time.

Google Hangouts facilitates small group discussions, and it’s compatible with any device. Students can also create presentations together with Google Slides or collaboratively build diagrams using Google Drawings.

  1. Debate Graph

Students can participate in group debates or build collaborative brainstorms on any complex topic. Subject maps and spider graphs can be saved and presented to the class or scored by the teacher.

  1. TalkBoard

According to Forbes, it’s an “indispensable tool for illustrating collaborative ideas on the fly.” Students can visually express and build on ideas using iPads.

This app can be particularly excellent for language learners, autistic students, and visual learners.

  1. Padlet

Essentially a virtual bulletin board, Padlet is perfect for collaborative discussions. Teachers or students start by posing an open-ended question. Students respond with words, images, audio, or video. All responses appear on the original “wall” in real time, and students can comment on one another’s posts.

  1. Twiddla

Twiddla calls itself a “meeting platform” where students can collaboratively mark-up graphics, photos, webpages, and uploaded documents. Students may opt to brainstorm on a white canvas or create mind maps as well.

  1. TodaysMeet

This very easy-to-use backchannel tool allows teachers to create a chatroom for the class. Students can ask questions, respond to questions, have collaborative discussions, or provide feedback on your lesson. The site also has a polling feature.

  1. Wikispaces Classroom

WikiSpaces Classroom gives you and your students a safe, private network for having discussions, collaboratively editing pages, and completing group projects. There are pre-built templates for a variety of projects, but students can also work from a blank slate.

You can track all student progress in real time and immediately communicate feedback to your students, whether they’re at home or in your classroom.

These apps, tools, and resources can all be quickly and easily implemented to enhance communication and collaboration in your classroom.

The post 7 Must Have Student-Collaboration Apps, Tools, and Resources appeared first on The Tech Edvocate.

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Algeria to fully play a major role in the region

Algeria to fully play a major role in the region

It is bound to reforms of diversifying its economy and modernising its business environment.

A visit of Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations in Alger, Algeria today and tomorrow is notably to reiterate the EU support to the country in differentiating its economy.  This is in a way to acknowledge that Algeria to fully play a major role in the region, it is bound to reform.
So as per the European Commission, ahead of the mission, Commissioner Hahn said: “The European Union will continue to support Algeria in its efforts to diversify its economy and modernise its business environment. The EU-Algeria Partnership Priorities adopted earlier this year put a strong emphasis on economic matters. It is now time to translate these priorities into concrete actions and reforms“.

Taking up the ideas made at my Conference at the European Parliament on “the Maghreb facing geostrategic challenges” and after some concern about Algeria breaking off the agreement with the European Union, Algerian officials were clear. These have reiterated that there is no question of that happening but it is rather negotiating for a win-win partnership.

Cooperation for shared prosperity

At different visits both in Algiers and in Brussels, the Algerian and European parties reaffirmed the common determination to enhance relations proclaimed ambitions. The will would be to “densify” this cooperation, according to the Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, for whom “assessment called for by the Algeria does not call into question the agreement, but try to fully use it in a more positive interpretation sense of its provisions allowing a re-balancing of the cooperation links.

As per the European Union side’s ‘constructive’ discussions, I received an official invitation from the EU’s Ambassador of the European Union to Algiers to join in as an independent international expert for a working dinner on the occasion of the 3 day visit (July 19 through 21, 2017) of the European Commissioner in charge of the European neighbourhood policy and the enlargement negotiations, Johannes HAHN.

Thankful but sadly unable to honour this invitation for personal reasons, I nonetheless received from friends in Brussels a copy of the EU proposals to the Algerian Government. The terms of the Association Agreement stipulate that “the will to intensify political dialogue of high level, in a context of revitalisation of relations of cooperation, through the joint assessment of the implementation of the association agreement and the definition of the priorities of the partnership, adopted during last March 13 Association Council on the revised European neighbourhood policy.”

My view has as always been that Algeria and the EU have for objective to consider ways and means of implementing all conclusions of the joint assessment of the agreement including diversification of the Algerian economy and promotion of exports of nonhydrocarbon and productive investments.

According to the EU side, promising bilateral relationship in the field of energy, in business and trade activity, has an unexplored, even if potentially encumbered by red tape and persistent political decisions. However, the situation in the country remains dependent on the evolution of the oil markets and oil exports related revenues, recalling that energy cooperation, based on a specific Protocol, would be at the center of the cooperation with the EU.

It is as such, that the Council of Ministers as of October 6, 2015 considered necessary to reassess both economic and commercial aspects of the Association Agreement with the EU that have not achieved the expected objectives of the European investment in Algeria.

While article 54 of the Agreement for the promotion and protection of investments stipulates that cooperation is the creation of a favourable climate to investment flows and is realized through the establishment of harmonized and simplified procedures of the mechanisms of co-investment (especially between small and medium-sized enterprises) as well as devices for identification and information on investment opportunities favourable to investment flows and establishing a legal framework promoting investment, its protection, avoid double taxation and promote technical assistance actions of promotion and guarantee of domestic and foreign investment.

Algéria with Europe Trade 

The official 2016 exports balance sheet show a decline to $28.88 billion in 2016 against $34,66 billion in 2015, or a fall of 16.7 percent. Non-oil, marginal exports fell to $2.063 billion in 2016 against $2.582 billion in 2015 (-20,1%); over 50% of these being made up of derivatives of hydrocarbons.

As far as imports are concerned, these also declined but at a lower rate to $46.72 billion in 2016 against $51.7 billion in 2015, down 9.62% giving a trade balance deficit of about $18 billion before adding all services and legal transfers of capital.

Trade recorded during the first quarter of 2017, $15.42 billion in total imports and $11.92 billion in exports, an increase of 36.94% compared to the same period in 2016.

From geographical distribution point of view, the members of the EU are the major trading partners of Algeria that imports for 49.21% of its products and exports 68.28% mainly hydrocarbons.

In 2016, according to the Algerian Customs, China in 2016 was the leading trading partner of Algeria, with a market share of close to 18%. France came second with a share of 10.15%, followed by Italy with 9.93%. Spain and Germany were respectively in the 4th and 5th position in this ranking.

For 2016, Algeria’s customers were Italy with a market share of 16.55% of the exports and  Spain coming second followed by the United States and France.

During the first four months of 2017, Italy was the main customer with a share of 18.01% followed by the 12.02% of Spain and France’s 10.89%.

China, which is the main supplier, has shipped 20.47 percent of imports, followed by France with 8.49% and Italy with 7.02%. If China is the big beneficiary of Algerian imports, the deficit in trade between the two countries is huge between 2007 and 2016 while official reviews were always headed towards Europe.

Deepen the reforms

In order for Algeria to negotiate, it implies some change in the prevailing bureaucratic tendencies of the Algerian State that are incongruous today in the 21st century.  It is no more the State’s role to invest but rather to play a role of regulator like reconciling economic efficiency with a deep social justice; the economic operators being driven by the logic of profit.

The concerns being certainly legitimate because tariff cuts produced a drop in the short-term depending on sources of between $1.5 and 2 billion a year as a result of the EU’s tariff relief.

The situation of Algeria as mono exporter does not help, so are the majority of the OPEC countries; these are members of the WTO. The great challenge for Algeria would definitely be to accelerate the overall reform so as to allow it pull some comparative advantages of its insertion in the internationally institutionalised division of labour.

To benefit from the positive effects of the agreement with Europe towards a possible WTO membership, there is need to first tidy up the Algerian economy but for that, there are obstacles to a fully comprehensive reform of all its segments.

Any operational analysis should connect the progress or the refusal to the reforms by analyzing strategies of the social presence of each tendency; the Government’s policy forces happen to be lying fluttered between two conflicting social forces. On the one hand, partisans of the logic of rentier as supported by proponents of import and on the other, those of the informal sphere that is unfortunately dominant and with a minority entrepreneurial logic.

This might explain how Algeria finds itself in this interminable transition, neither in competitive social market economy nor in an administered economy; progress of reforms being inversely pro portional to the oil price and the value of the Dollar and reforms being tentatively made with inconsistency when the oil price drops. This explains also that despite successive devaluation of the Dinar, to meet the reality of deficit budget and boosting inflation imported, 5 dinars in 1974 a Dollar to 120 Dinars a Dollar in 2017, it has been impossible to boost non-oil exports showing that blocking is systemic.

GDP growth rate is directly and indirectly at 80% through the building and infrastructure development sectors and so is the employment rate, all as pulled by public expenditure through the oil and gas exports revenues which gives wealth creation companies of public or private wealth (often in debt with respect to public banks) a negligible part. Infrastructure being only a means towards an end, the recent experience of Spain that bet on this segment must be carefully meditated by the Algerian authorities. So, in order to attract any investment, the Algerian Government should implement regulatory mechanisms to attract promising investors and avoid for as much as possible any changes in the legal frameworks and any bureaucratic administrative actions that are not only not transparent but source of demobilization and potentially scaring investors whether they are local or international.

Without chauvinism, Algeria has potential options for moving on and unlike some pessimistic forecasts predicting a worst-case scenario for year 2020, it, subject to good governance and a reorientation of its economic policy, has the ambition of its choice.

It can become a player in determining the stability of the Mediterranean region and Africa, conditioned by its economic and social development within regional spaces, analysis supported in my international interviews including Radio France International (RFI) of 27/02/2016 and by the American Herald Tribune of December 28, 2016 and Radio International Mediterranean Midi1 of January 14, 2017.

Successful structural reforms allowing Algerian recovery is possible, but for this, a reform of all structures must be intended to encourage value-added creation investment from the overhaul of all land and property estates, finance, customs, tax, administration and a renewed social welfare regulation systems. There is urgency to specific objectives and a new institutional organization in order to give greater coherence to the management.

In summary, Algeria for the United States of America and for Europe is politically a major player in the region’s stability whereas economically although it holds significant potential, it realistically has little export options outside its hydrocarbon resources to both Europe and Africa in the light of the embryonic state of the productive sector?

Let’s avoid rushing to conclusions by giving a total of $7 billion accumulated losses over several years and thus mislead the public opinion. Customs duties shortfalls as a result of the Association agreement with the EU (with the Dinar being devalued by 20% in 2017) were accounted to be $1.27 billion in 2015 and 1.09 billion in 2016.

Contradictory debates in association with all components of society, tolerating the different sensitivities and the need for social cohesion seem to be the only way to overcome the present multidimensional crisis, because the social adjustments could eventually be painful. The macroeconomic framework seeming to be relatively stabilized in Algeria could be fleeting without deep structural reforms, the decline in the price of hydrocarbons and the risk after the exhaustion of the Reserves Fund that of foreign exchange reserves between 2019 and 2020.

ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Meet Youssef Chraïbi, MOM at ENGIE

Meet Youssef Chraïbi, MOM at ENGIE

ENGIE is a global energy player and an expert operator in the three businesses of electricity, natural gas and energy services. The Group develops its businesses around a model based on responsible growth to take on the major challenges of energy’s transition to a low-carbon economy: access to sustainable energy, climate-change mitigation and adaptation, security of supply and the rational use of resources. ENGIE today invites us to Meet Youssef Chraïbi, MOM at ENGIE.  We would like to believe that Youssef is a very representative member of the MENA originated youth that are emerging in numbers these days.

Here is below extract of this interesting article and in case of its appreciation, let us wish this young man all the best in his present and forthcoming endeavours.

Meet Youssef Chraïbi, Market Operations Manager at ENGIE

An IT and technology enthusiast ever since he was a boy, Youssef Chraïbi has followed his passion through his studies and then in his varied professional experiences. He has proved himself to be highly versatile, taking on posts in a number of different divisions and departments, with responsibilities on both a national and international level. Currently he is meeting a new challenge, running the ENGIE Group start-up, NextFlex. Read about his career to date.

When you are open-minded, change is always an opportunity

Trained in electrical engineering, Youssef began his career in computing before becoming an energy contract specialist and then into a start-up intrapreneur. To put it another way, he’s multi-talented!

Youssef describes himself as a “greedy learner”. Insatiably inquisitive, he was interested in everything, especially if it was related to his main passion: energy. His appetite for knowledge took him to the National Institute for Applied Sciences in Lyon, and then briefly to Alstom. Youssef then took advantage of an academic exchange with the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, to complete his studies, specializing in renewable energies. But to understand how his career then developed, you have to go back a few years.

A born analyst

By age 11, Youssef, already a confirmed geek, was developing his first app. “I designed a program to calculate the sale price of a slice of cake based on the cost of the ingredients. This allowed us to show enough profit to buy prizes for participants in games.” The ease with which Youssef could cope with software issues explains why he chose to join Gaz de France’s Major Infrastructures division once he had completed his doctorate. He took charge of the management of a portfolio of customer applications and coordinated a team of ten tech specialists. He found out all about the many facets of the energy industry, particularly the gas sector, through the prism of information technology. Among the fifteen or so customer applications for which he was responsible, he maintained the application monitoring the levels of LNG terminals which governs the movements of methane tankers. “It was a job I really liked, particularly because there was a very rich human component, with many different people involved.” After working in applications for two years, Youssef was given the chance to go below the surface to explore the lower depths. For a long time he had wanted to get up close and personal with servers and data centers. The Infrastructures and Production department gave him the chance. It was at a time when a new logistical organization was being implemented. Youssef was given a free hand to physically determine the servers needing to be deployed and the resources required to manage them. He specified the infrastructures that were indispensable for the operation of Group applications, not only for specialist operations but also for the software systems used for office applications, HR, payroll, etc. “It did take me away from energy as such, but as I knew the industry I could determine the critical points more easily.” He started out alone, but within twelve months he was heading a team of fifteen.

Return to energy

By 2010, Youssef had built up a solid reputation as a project manager in information systems, but he had a radical change of business and of entity. No more IT! He was now in charge of the Supply Management team for France, as part of the Energy Management business unit. “What I really love is change and learning a new business! It’s like opening a new book!” His role consisted in operational management of framework contracts for energy supply, and monitoring them on a day-to-day basis. And when Energy France became Energy Europe, Youssef was on the front line! Three entities merged and he took charge of a department spread over France and Belgium. There were more team-members; management took on an international dimension; the stakes were on a different scale. Youssef implemented a new organization and new systems.

New markets

Now part of NextFlex, Youssef is facing a new challenge. This in-house start-up is one of the first four projects in the incubation program launched by the ENGIE Group to explore new energy markets. The offer consists in promoting flexibility on the electricity market. “Unlike gas, which can be stored, the electricity market is always balanced. Production must precisely match consumption at a given moment. NextFlex supplies solutions, offering flexibility to heavy consumers.” Users such as manufacturers, hospitals and shopping centers, who are paid a fee in compensation, sign contracts undertaking to reduce part of their electricity consumption when necessary, generally for a period of several hours. NextFlex attaches a value to this flexibility in dealings with such players as RTE (the French power grid operator). Youssef and his two colleagues do everything. “We have to identify customers, perform tests, define tailored contractual agreements, run the system on a day-to-day basis, maintain relations with RTE and with our technology partners in the United Kingdom, and so on. I also handle customer service and support.” To develop this new business he is able to call upon Group resources, particularly those of ENGIE Ineo and ENGIE Cofely, which both operate throughout France.

Team-work

Youssef is very much a people person. “I used to manage a department of 40 people. It was my role to drive them always to do better, to ensure that each person could progress at his or her level.” His team-playing spirit owes a lot to playing volleyball. “In football and basketball, there’s room for individual brilliance, but in volleyball it’s all team-work.” In Grenoble, where he is now based, Youssef has discovered a new hobby: capoeira. His many professional and personal projects include developing NextFlex, of course, but also expressing himself through his photographs, having a rich family life and investing himself in education programs. “Education is the key to the development of a society.” He also teaches junior high students about energy through the ENGIE internal network, and he is working on an educational project with a school in Grenoble.

“I like the start-up mode very much. It encourages autonomy, accountability and a search for different modes of management.”

 

General Elections in the United Kingdom and the GCC

General Elections in the United Kingdom and the GCC

This article of Jameel Ahmad, Vice President of Corporate Development and Market Research at FXTM and BA (Hons) degree in Business Studies with Accountancy and Finance from the University of the West of England published on AMEinfo of May 31st, 2017  is pertinently about the General Elections in the United Kingdom and the GCC.  It was the UK Prime Minister who called for these elections for next Thursday, in fact three years earlier than scheduled.
The reasons were to obviously strengthen the hands of the eventual winner who will be deemed to negotiate the Brexit with the European Union.
These elections might however affect all countries, starting of course with those of the EU but also those of the GCC; object of this article of Jameel Ahmad. 

GD93WH London, UK. 13th July, 2016. Theresa May addressing the worlds press on her first day as prime minister in Downing Street. Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Alamy Live News

Could the upcoming UK election represent a risk to GCC markets?

With the OPEC meeting now in the past, investor attention has shifted towards the United Kingdom and the upcoming General Election scheduled for 8 June. Although the market currently appears calm ahead of the event, this event it does represent a risk for emerging assets and this will include those markets in the UAE and GCC region.

With investors currently positioning in favour of Theresa May being declared victorious next week, there is a risk that investors are heavily under-pricing any other potential outcomes at present. The largest risks to emerging market assets are generally when potential outcomes are heavily underpriced, and recent history from the EU Referendum last June is a kind reminder of what can happen when investors are caught on the wrong side of the trade. If recent history does indeed repeat itself then investors are more likely than not going to divert into “risk-off” mode, where riskier assets like the stock markets and emerging assets suffer from low attraction and safe-haven assets like Gold and the Japanese Yen surge from buying demand.

Politics to continue influencing the Pound’s direction

After suffering its heaviest week of losses so far in 2017, the British Pound is attempting to consolidate around 1.28 against the US Dollar. I personally think that politics will continue to influence the direction of the British Pound and I believe that there is further momentum for the currency to fall with the UK General Election being a little over a week away. In general, the markets do not like uncertainty and this is the recurring theme for the UK at present with another election around the corner and ongoing Brexit uncertainty continuing to dominate news headlines.

My view is that even following the dip lower from the 2017 highs above 1.30 is that the financial markets are still underpricing the risk of an unexpected outcome to the election next week. Investors in general stacked their cards heavily in favour of Theresa May being declared the winner following the unexpected calling of a snap election, but opinion polls are currently showing that the race to win the election is going to be close. I can’t help but think that recent history could be repeating itself with the markets currently underpricing the risk of an outcome that could differ to what the markets expect, which is a Conservative victory on 8 June.

USD JPY – a game of politics vs economics

The British Pound is not alone in being underpinned to political risk, with politics vs. economics being the name of the game when it comes to trading the USDJPY. I believe that politics will continue to dictate the direction of this pair as we head into the second half of 2017, and I am actually favouring towards the Japanese Yen covering further ground against its counterparts on the back of safe-haven buying.

A lack of optimism around the likelihood that President Trump will be able to push forward with his legislative reforms will put the spotlight firmly on Washington, and I think that this will result in further pressure on the USD. Any further market uncertainty in the United States will eventually lead to investors being lured back into the safe-haven appeal of the Yen.

EUR USD – facing near-term selling pressure

The likelihood that the ECB will repeat its dovish rhetoric during its Central Bank meeting in June is encouraging traders to enter selling positions on the Eurodollar after the pair reached new 2017 milestone highs above 1.12 last week. Despite economic data around Europe continuing to improve confidence that the economy has turned a corner, the market is swaying towards the belief that the ECB will repeat in June that the economy still requires ECB stimulus and this could result in the Eurodollar slipping further towards 1.10.

France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria

France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria

And the prospects of mutual cooperation . . .

The two countries  confronted to their specific challenges ought to have a common vision in order to contribute to a prosperous future as based on genuine co-development and not on obscuring the memory of a shared past for long lasting relationships. The recent France’s presidential elections impacting Algeria, are looked at here as positively as they could be in so many years.

The 187 odd years of very close relationship between the two countries will certainly be in the agendas of each as the renewed French leadership confronted to challenges from all around is settling down shortly for business anew.    

It is about preparing the future through mutual respect; a point that I always made during my various meetings with political and economic personalities, and maintained that Algeria should not be considered as a market only. It is in this context that a co-partnership between Algeria and France, far from prejudice and spirit of domination must be inscribed.

We must be aware that the new international relations are no more based on relationships between heads of State, but on custom networks and on decentralized organizations through the involvement of notably business and civil society cooperation, dialogue of cultures, tolerance and the symbiosis of the contributions of the East and the West.

Because it might be unproductive to be and remain locked in distant positions as the latest events should rather make us think of to how avoid antagonising each other beliefs be it religious.  After all Islam, Christianity or Judaism did contribute to the development of civilization.

Future relations between Algeria and France must also concern the Maghreb-Europe space and more generally the Mediterranean-Europe area. Our two countries can be dynamic agents, because southern Europe and the Maghreb cannot escape adaptation to the current global changes (the present crisis already causing upheaval in both socio-economic and geo-strategic) and more generally throughout the Mediterranean region.

Because it is necessary to go beyond narrow chauvinist nationalism insofar as real nationalism will be defined in the future as the ability to together expand the standard of living of our people by our contribution to the global value.

Today’s world is characterized by interdependence. This does not mean the end of the role of the State but a separation of politics and economics which cannot be the vagaries of the economic climate, the State dedicated to its natural role as regulator of macroeconomic and macro-social life.  I firmly believe and after analysis that the intensification of the cooperation between  Algeria and France not forgetting all other cooperation between Algeria and the USA, all emerging countries such as China, Japan, India, the Brazil, Turkey, South Korea and Russia etc…

And in a more comprehensive way between the Maghreb and Europe as based on a genuine co-development, partnership, the introduction of direct investment would upset the bureaucratic behaviour conservative annuitants and enrol them in a dynamic perspective that is beneficial to the peoples of the region thus helping to  turn the Mediterranean into a lake of peace and prosperity.  The Mediterranean can be that place of rational networking to communicate with distant cultures, encouraging the symbiosis of contributions of the East and the West.

This network should facilitate communication links, freedom insofar as the excesses of the collective voluntarism inhibit any spirit of creativity. It is that the Maghreb and Europe are two geographic areas with an opening on the Latinity millennial experience and the Arab world with natural links and overall culture and Anglo-Saxon influences…

It is essential that Europe developed all actions that can be implemented to achieve a desirable balance within this set. In fact the formation of weak regional economic areas is a step of structural adjustment within the globalized economy with for a goal to promote political democracy, – a humanized, competitive market economy – promotion of ideas through social and cultural debates so as to combat extremism and racism – the implementation of common business whilst never forgetting that these are driven by the logic of profit and not emotions.

Thus, it is necessary to pay special attention to the educational action because human thinking and creation should in the future be the beneficiary and the leading actor in the development process. That’s why I would advocate the creation of a Euro-Maghrebine University as a cultural center as well as a central Euro Mediterranean bank as a facilitator for all Exchange.

It is in this context that a realistic approach must be apprehended so as to the co-partnership between Algeria and France taking into account all potentialities.  At the global level, we are witnessing the evolution of a built-up passed based on a purely material vision, characterized by hierarchical rigid organizations, to a new mode of accumulation based on the mastery of knowledge, of new technologies and flexible organizations as networking around the world, with globally segmented supply chains of production where investment in comparative advantages takes place in sub-segments of these channels.

As rightly noted by Jean-Louis Guigou, President of IPEMED (Institute of Prospective Economic of the Mediterranean world, in Paris), it should be that, in the interest of both of the Algerians and of the French, and more generally of the Maghreb and the Europeans as well as all South-Mediterranean populations, the boundaries of the common market of the future, the borders of Schengen in the future, the borders of social protection in the future the borders of the environmental requirements of tomorrow, must be South of the Morocco, the Tunisia and Algeria, South and East of the Lebanon, Syria, of the Jordan and the Turkey, through a lasting peace in the Middle East, Arab and Jewish populations with a thousand-year history of peaceful coexistence.

Specifically, Algeria and France have economically other strengths and potential for the promotion of diverse activities and this experience can be an example of this global partnership becoming the privileged axis of the re-balancing of the South of Europe by amplification and the tightening of links and exchanges in different forms. Per the official foreign trade balance of Algeria in 2016, the countries of the European Union are still its main partners, with the respective proportions of 47.47% and 57.95% of exports and imports.  Italy is the main customer and France the main supplier.

Between France and Algeria, trade can be intensified in all areas, i.e.: agriculture, industry, services, tourism, education, not to mention cooperation in the military field, where Algeria can be an active player, as shown by its efforts to bring stability to the region.

Also, let’s not forget the diaspora with residents of Algerian origin in France that would exceed 4 million, including more than 2 million bi-nationals. This regardless of the numbers is an essential element of reconciliation between Algeria and France, because it holds significant intellectual, economic and financial potential. The promotion of the relations between Algeria and its emigrant community should be mobilized in various stages of intervention initiatives of all the parties concerned, namely the Government, diplomatic missions, universities, entrepreneurs and civil society.

Hence, any intensification of this cooperation won’t possible – whilst not forgetting the duty of memory – if Algeria and France have a realistic approach to the co-partnership for a win-win partnership away from any mercantilism and spirit of domination. The two countries must have a common vision of their future.

Algeria can overcome its current difficulties but the success of national and international industrial partnerships is not feasible without a total renovation of all central and local governance systems with a coherent vision based on both political, social, economic structural reforms including financial market, land and property market, labour and especially reform of the socio-educational system, at the dawn of the fourth technological revolution.

The objective for Algeria is to commit for structural reform, whilst assuming a broad internal mobilization of the social front, tolerating the different sensitivities, in the face of the many challenges in order to allow Algeria to emerge, in the medium and long term.  For this, the dominance of the bureaucratic approach must give way to economic operational approach, with positive social and economic impacts. Also, in the face of the new global changes, Algeria undergoing this transition towards a productive economy closely tied to its energy transition, needs an accumulation of technological and management expertise with assistance from its foreign partners.

In short, Algeria and France are key actors for the stability of the region, and that any destabilization of Algeria would have negative geo-strategic repercussions throughout the Mediterranean and African region, as I pointed out in my interview on December 28, 2016, the American Herald Tribune (3).

And of course, subject to Algeria furthering into the rule of law, democratization of society and that it’s reorienting its economic policy in order to achieve sustainable development. The current tensions between Algeria and France are only temporary, as per information gathered with friends of mine in France.

It is only in this context that cooperation must return for a win-win partnership far from all prejudice and in mutual respect.

 

Notes : See recent contributions and international interviews of Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul

  1. -«Wahl in Algerien Der Graben ist tief – wer stimmt ab?» – www.tagesschau.de –ARD-  04/05/2017
  2. -« Après Glavany et Macron… « Dépassionner les relations entre l’Algérie et la France » quotidien financier  français la Tribune .Fr 19 février 2017 – (“After Glavany and Macron…» “Take the heat out the relationship between Algeria and France” by French financial daily la Tribune.fr  19 February 2017)
  3.  – American Herald Tribune 28/12/2016 «  Prof. Abderrahmane Mebtoul: Any Destabilization of Algeria would have Geo-strategic Repercussions on all the Mediterranean and African Space
  4.  -Interviews with the weekly Point Afrique (Paris-24/03/2016) and the Express (07/04/2016, Paris) on the prospects for co-operation Algeria-France.
  5.  -This theme was developed by Prof. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, on 7 April 2016 in Marseille at the Mediterranean Villa

 

 

The United Kingdom gave up its use of coal

The United Kingdom gave up its use of coal

Following our Earth Day commemoration article Climate Change and Environmental Awareness , where it was mentioned that on that day, the United Kingdom gave up its use of coal for mainly generating its electrical power, today we are happy to republish a World Economic Forum’s article written by Alex Gray, Formative Content on April 26, 2017 on the same subject. It is about the US and Europe abandoning coal generated energy altogether and for the first time for generations, in fact from as it were the launching of this technology.

The media are increasingly reporting that renewable power now accounts for more than 30% of all installed electrical capacity worldwide, exceeding coal, and this whilst some politicians who riding a wave crest of popularity have promised the contrary, that is to dig deep for more coal.

We would take opportunity here to mention that despite the advent of fossil oils, the coal industry never ceased to be sourced for one purpose or another to generate and / or second energy production.
As per this article, Alex is proposing the idea that this is it and there is no looking back.  So, thank you Alex for this piece of good news; wondering however, what’s next?

Image: REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak/File Photo

Coal mining jobs aren’t coming back. But clean energy is already creating millions of new ones

The benefits of renewable energy are obvious: it’s giving us a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet to live on.

But clean energy is also a massive contributor to the economy.

recent report says that “advanced energy” is a $1.4 trillion global industry, almost twice the size of the global airline industry, and nearly equal to worldwide apparel revenue. This is a 7% increase compared to the 2015 total of $1.3 trillion.

Image: Advanced Energy Now 2017 Market Report

In fact, the advanced energy industry, which encompasses energy sources, technologies and services that are clean, affordable and secure, is also growing much faster than the world economy overall – 7% versus 3.1%.

And it is creating jobs. The industry now supports 3.3 million positions in the US alone. That’s equal to the employment provided by retail stores, and twice the jobs in construction.

What is driving its growth?

Globally, advanced energy has grown by nearly a quarter (24%) since 2011, adding $257.7 billion in revenue over six years. The top three performers were electricity generation, transportation and building efficiency, in that order, according to the report, which was prepared by Navigant Research for Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a trade association representing the advanced energy industry.

Electricity generation remained the largest advanced energy segment globally, with $455.6 billion in revenue (up 5% over 2015).

Transportation was the second largest advanced energy segment, growing 8% last year and reaching $447 billion.

At 15%, building efficiency capped a fifth straight year of double-digit growth with a record increase, reaching $271.6 billion in revenue in 2016.

Image: Advanced Energy Economy (AEE)

 

The picture in the US

In the US, the advanced energy industry generated $200 billion in revenue, nearly double that of beer sales, equal to pharmaceutical manufacturing, and approaching wholesale consumer electronics.

Image: Advanced Energy Now 2017 Market Report

Advanced energy in the United States has grown by an average of 5% annually for a total of 28% compared to 2011.

What is advanced energy?

The report defines advanced energy as “a broad range of technologies, products, and services that constitute the best available technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow”.

That includes things like the transmission, distribution and storage of electricity; vehicles that are powered by fuel other than gasoline or diesel; fuel production including ethanol and biodiesel; advanced industry processes (such as combined heat and power); fuel delivery and electricity generation through renewables.

Another report has reached similar conclusions.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says that, by 2050, renewables will add about $19 trillion to the world economy, and will create about 6 million jobs.

The increase in use of renewable energy, plus improved energy efficiency, will achieve the emissions reductions needed to keep global temperature rises to no more than 2C, according to IRENA. The aim of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is to keep global temperature increase well below 2C and if possible below 1.5C.

IRENA says that while changing the energy landscape requires massive investment – some $29 trillion –
this only represents 0.4% of global GDP.

In addition to boosting the economy, it will create enough jobs to offset job losses in the fossil fuel industry, and of course, give us a healthier planet to live on.

Renewable energy now accounts for 24% of global power generation and 16% of primary energy supply. To achieve decarbonization, the report states that, by 2050, renewables should be 80% of power generation and 65% of total primary energy supply.

 

Europe – North Africa Cooperation in High Education

Europe – North Africa Cooperation in High Education

Europe – North Africa Cooperation in High Education comes in as education in the MENA generally and more specifically in its western half of North Africa has been for some time prioritised with various efforts being made to improve it through notably innovation with a view to creating job opportunities for the youth.
Illiteracy however remained and is still rampant although varying from country to country and from cities to rural areas within each country.
Historically, education systems of the Maghreb countries having within the last 50 years undergone since independence, reform processes whose main objectives was to prepare for the nationalization take over through European inspired education curriculums while stressing the need to respond as closely as possible to the aspirations of the indigenous cultures by providing teachers in re replacement of the predominantly European body of educators.
The situation nowadays is best described by an article on University World News Issue No. 456 of April 21, 2017 by Wagdy Sawahel who elaborated on Europe and North African higher education cooperation plans for the future.
It is well known to all around the Mediterranean basin that education and innovation are mechanisms of progress in the 21st century, whilst all ideas related to that goal resonate as being somewhat impossible to attain in most capital cities across North Africa without as it were, a hand from Europe.

Europe-North Africa HE cooperation plan unveiled

In efforts to promote cooperation in science, technology, innovation and higher education, five countries of the Arab Maghreb Union and five European countries have approved a two-year cooperation plan aimed at stimulating economic growth, job creation and social cohesion in the Western Mediterranean region.

The 10 countries are known as member states of the “5+5 Dialogue initiative: A sub-regional forum for dialogue”.

The five Maghreb countries involved are Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The five European countries include Western Mediterranean nations, namely, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain.

The new two year plan (2017-18) was announced at the third conference of the ministers of research, innovation and higher education of the member countries of the forum for the dialogue in the Western Mediterranean, held under the theme “Promotion of Higher Education, Research and Innovation to Achieve Social Stability and Economic Development”, in Tunis, Tunisia from 30-31 March.

Institutional network

According to a dedicated website for the 5+5 Dialogue initiative launched in Tunis, the plan encompasses several initiatives and projects, including the setting up of a network of higher education institutions, the formation of teams of researchers and engineers around joint projects, the development of a rectors’ network, along with the promotion of exchanges of best practices in quality assurance and governance.

The network of higher education institutions within the Dialogue 5+5 will focus on encouraging cooperation between higher education institutions in the Western Mediterranean Basin.

Based in Tunisia, the regional network will focus on strengthening existing university linkages and developing newer partnerships around novel cooperative projects.

The network will participate in the construction of ‘Mediterranean spaces’ dedicated to research, innovation and higher education approved and outlined in the 2013 Rabat Declaration and endorsed at the first conference of ministers of research and higher education of the 5+5 Dialogue states, held in Morocco.

Free movement

Mediterranean spaces will be based on the principle of free movement of researchers between the two western shores of the Mediterranean and on a connection to regional and global scientific networks to facilitate the exchange of scientific data and development of skills.

It will also focus on intellectual property, patenting and exchange of students, academics and research between countries.

The network will also support initiatives that promote institutional partnerships, including scientific networks, the mobility of students, faculty and administrators, multi-diploma or thesis co-supervision, and the development of online training and research

Collaboration with researchers in the region will be enhanced under the Horizon 2020 programme known as PRIMA – Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area – that will help bridge the gap and regulate the brain drain through the creation of poles of excellence in member countries.

The proposed Dialogue 5+5 rectors’ network will focus on specific initiatives including organising regular encounters between rectors and presidents from all Dialogue 5+5 countries, with visits to universities and polytechnic institutes as well as international meetings of students and researchers, and the holding of conferences and seminars on mobility and academic interchanges.

Enhancing quality

Besides sharing quality assurance practices, the plan will enhance exchanges on governance with a focus on the organisation of teaching, research and innovation in order to improve the management, efficiency and financial autonomy of institutions.

At the opening of the conference, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said that a national conference on higher education reform will take place in Tunis in the period from 30 June-1 July to present a higher education reform plan that will focus on five major axes, including university training, employment, human resources, governance and innovation, according to a local press report.

After the shock and sorrow come the questions

After the shock and sorrow come the questions

After the shock and sorrow come the questions as put by The Mirror online this morning. The Mirror   goes on :
Were there failings by the security services?

Are we doing enough to detect and monitor those at risk of being radicalised?

Is the Government’s Prevent strategy working?

Why, when it was known the authorities always feared a Mumbai-style attack, was not more done to improve security at Parliament’s carriage gates?

So far we know little about Kent-born Khalid Masood.
Only by learning why he committed the atrocity and how, as seems likely, he was radicalised can we prevent others from following his warped and deadly path.
There are also questions for companies such as Google and why terror manuals, including guides to using cars as weapons of destruction, are so readily available online.
In all cases, and as elaborated on by AMEinfo in an editorial that deserves pondering on, there are always causes to such atrocities but also unfortunately consequences.

London attack: 5 shocking ways terrorism affects economies

As the world watched, an unnamed assailant went on a rampage on London’s streets on Wednesday. Four people lost their lives in the deadly attack near the Houses of Parliament.

Financial impact of the ugly incident is yet to be ascertained but one can assume it will be colossal as the metropolis came to a standstill as events unfurled.

Unfortunately, the world continues to lose more money than it invests as terrorism and violence increase grossly.

The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2015 was $13.6 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, according to the figures from Global Peace Index (GPI).

To put this in macroeconomic perspective, the figure amounted to 13.3 per cent of the world’s GDP and it was nearly 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.

If the lost money was distributed equally across the globe, every person would have received $1,876.

Destruction of infrastructure

Any terrorist activity begins with physical damage to properties. Numerous buildings, roads, railways and airports have been destructed in such incidents. These take a very huge share of governments’ fiscal budgets. Also, factories, machines, vehicles, skilled labourers and other resources are eliminated during the course of violence. In addition, damages to utility resources will have both short-term and long-term impacts on economy.

Uncertainty in markets

Markets are highly vulnerable to any development that catches the attention of investors. After the globalisation, markets have been responding to news-making events even if they are taking place miles away in a different country or a region. Shares in stock markets worldwide had fallen in response to militant attacks in Paris last year.

Investor confidence

Insurgent attacks have the highest potential to dampen the confidence of investors. As risk appetite of businesses wanes, they would turn away from investing in new markets or expanding in existing geographies.

Last year Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan incurred the largest economic impact as a percentage of their GDP at 54, 54 and 45 per cent of GDP respectively, according to the GPI 2016 report.

Peacebuilding spending

Governments spend billions of dollars after militant attacks in order to avoid such occurrence in future. For stepping up military strength and acquiring new weapons and technology as well as boosting intelligence many of the countries across the world allocate nearly half of their budget.

Following a suspected bombing of a Russian plane in Sinai in 2015, Egypt invested some $50 million in airport security.

Tourism

The most immediate impact of any violence will be felt on a country’s tourism sector, which is the backbone of economy in many parts of the world.

In 2010, 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt’s beaches and ancient sites but five years later the number of travellers plunged to just 9.3m as the country witnessed popular uprising and an array of terrorist attacks.

People tend to cancel or postpone their holidays which directly affects airlines, tour operators, hotels, restaurants and retailers.

 

Between 1970 and January 2016, there have been more than 160 terrorist attacks targeted at hotels worldwide. Over the past five years alone, more than 40 hotel terrorist attacks have occurred, according to figures from security consultancy firm Restrata.

Botan Osman Managing Director of Restrata says that hotels have been seen as a soft target for terrorist attacks because they tend to have large, open spaces and attract a high number of visitors, many of whom are often foreigners.

“Hospitality targeted attacks may rise unless the industry takes a harder stance. This can be done whilst balancing the business needs of the hotel.”

“Examining the growth in hotel attacks demonstrates a worrying statistic, with a quarter of all hotel attacks since 1970 occurring in the past five years. Documented attacks within the hotel industry focus primarily on North African states where terror levels are already high, yet research suggests a number of hospitality premises in these areas are lacking in basic security design features,” Osman adds.