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Tanzania has vast natural gas resources and is building the largest port in Africa. Revenues from gas could render Bagamoyo Carbon neutral.



Tanzania like many African countries is urbanizing fast, and has plans to industrialize.  The country is also building infrastructure (roads, railways, airports, ports), and is increasing access to electricity. 

Discovery of rich natural gas resources make it possible to conceive city development in a sustainable manner.  Using revenues from the gas economy to construct cities with a low carbon footprint would make development carbon neutral. 

Among major planned projects is expansion of Bagamoyo to become amongst the largest ports in Africa. An export development zone planned near the port would include industrial, trade, technological activities, with real estate, financial, and logistical facilities, connected to road and rail systems and to the airport. The port is part of China's Maritime Silk Road Initiative.

The town has historic architecture and sensitive mangrove swamps and is a rich source of fresh fish from traditional fishing techniques. Planned port expansion would take the city from a small agricultural and fishing town to a booming metropolis, with links to the rest of the world in transport and trade. Preservation and development could go hand in hand.

Opportunities exist for sustainable expansion, including carbon neutral or negative solutions in energy, construction, transport, logistics, and supply chain techniques.  The proposal could be a foundation for marine biomass production, and favor innovations and exports in agro/food processing to benefit farmers and fishers.

UONGOZI Institute and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) located there could extract valuable lessons for replication and adoption across and outside Africa. Intentions of the proposal are in line with the overall goals of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (BEC) and offer unique Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment investment leverages.  This proposal could work in cooperation with the development of the Maritime Silk Road Project conceived by China.

What actions do you propose?

MIT alumni around the world and in Tanzania could take specific actions related to reducing the carbon footprint or arriving at carbon negative outcomes by working in partnership with others such as Sciences-Po Paris, the University of Ottawa, Columbia University, BMW Foundation, UONGOZI Institute, and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), through this proposal.  

Actions proposed include:

1) Financing Carbon Neutral Development:  Alternative uses of revenues from natural gas if exported and using gas reserves for a country's own development would be the key areas for assessment in this analysis.  The idea is to engage with multiple stakeholders to study the economics of natural gas and the implications for future revenues and development pathways of a country.  The study would look specifically at the interface between the policy issues at the global, port, city, and hinterland level from a planning and urban geography perspective.  This action would build on lessons from the work of Karin Bäckstrand on the use of civic science to reframe the role of experts, policy makers and citizens in environmental governance (see reading list at the end for the reference).  Opportunities for using natural gas for electricity generation (the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions) and in transport (the second biggest source) at the national level would be of particular interest and would be assessed along options for hybrid solutions including wind-gas and solar-gas plants across the country. Opportunities to develop carbon neutral or carbon negative development would also be assessed in terms of economics, development policy, and social impact.  Expected Output: (a) a case study that looks at the options available for countries that are rich in natural resources (gas, biomass, oceans) to use those resources for their own development as a substitute for other sources of energy that are higher in greenhouse gas emissions; and (b) a policy paper on the policy options, technology choices, and tradeoffs available to decision-makers in the public and private sector, including in making choices across different uses (urban or rural areas, electricity generation or transport, etc).  Expected Outcome: a better understanding by policy makers across multiple sectors (ministries of energy, finance and economic development, local government, agriculture and fisheries; transport, tourism, and commerce) is expected on the tradeoffs possible in the development and use of natural resources (marine, fossil, and others) in carbon neutral or carbon negative ways;

2) Revenue Sources to Protect Fragile Ecosystems:  Research work and analysis would be done in a living laboratory setting to uncover sustainable development approaches with a specific focus on how to generate revenues from natural gas extraction, port operations, and tourism to finance environmental protection of a fragile space and for the conservation of fragile systems such as swamps in the coastal area of Bagamoyo. This analysis would also take into account the possibility for development of tourism within the country as a whole and for markets attracted specifically by fragile ecosystems.  Alternatives for balancing natural, social, and cultural resources would also be included.  Expected Output:  (a) a study report that is updated regularly on the state of "knowing" about the issues; and (b) two updated sets of recommendations (one for decision makers and the other specifically targeting planners and city managers) on what seems to be working and why.  Expected Outcome:  improved capacity to make policy decisions in a transparent manner using the latest available information on options and impacts in a multi-stakeholder decision-space;

3) Dialogue for Transformation:  In this action, experts in conducting multi-stakeholder dialogues would bring together city officials, national planners, port operators, business owners, farmers, tourism operators and other stakeholders to get informed about the issues around city and port development, energy generation, emissions profiles, technology choices, and other aspects with the aim to select a course of action that leads to a shared agreement and then sustainability.  A special focus would be on how the city of Bagamoyo could benefit from the strategic investments in the Maritime Silk Road Initiative while pursuing sustainability objectives that the country has committed to under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Expected Output:  a successful set of dialogues, a series of papers to document the progress and a set of recommendations from the process. Expected Outcome: improved capacity to make complex decisions in a multi-stakeholder setting; 

4) Knowledge Sharing Platform:  A sharing online platform would be created to crowd-source the best research ideas to inform local planners, architects and builders, through an easy to use format that they can engage with.  Technology partners that have supported similar initiatives would be sought to customize and scale up the effort during a testing phase, using dedicated websites and blogs that are explored in the first phase.  Expected Output: Collaboration and learning tool. Expected Outcome:  improved decisions on sustainability;

4) Partnerships for Innovation:  This action would identify research and innovation partnerships to test ideas in construction, design, transport, planning, and management that support local leaders in their choices, working in conjunction with local universities and industries. This would be done according to urban metabolism approaches, building on the work of Professor John Fernandez at MIT. The research of the architect Kunle Adeyemi on sustainable solutions for urban development integrating cities and water in Africa would also be a source of inspiration for the ecological integration of the coastal line into the development of Bagamoyo and in phase with its possibly booming economic activities.  Expected Output:  A set of working partnerships on a variety of ideas that are being tested to implement sustainability solutions in urban areas.  Expected Outcome: improved capacity for innovation around solutions for urban metabolism approaches in a living lab setting;

5) Research Idea Generation:  This activity would be focused on identifying future research in materials science, construction techniques, transport and logistics techniques, energy generation and transmission, agri/food processing, and port operations that can be studied by MIT students and other researchers to solve unique and scalable problems using Bagamoyo as the test case.  Teams of students and their professors from MIT, the African Institute for Mathematical Studies (AIMS), Columbia University's Sustainable Solutions Development Network (SDSN), the University of Ottawa, and Sciences Po would engage in the collection of ideas ensuring partnership with local researchers for local validation and testing. Expected Output:  a detailed report documenting important topics for further research, identifying possible partners and collaborations for every research cluster.  Expected Outcome:  local capacity to generate research questions, formulate testable hypothesis, set in place research collaborations, and conduct pilots and experiments;

6) Early Testing of Ideas and Solutions:  This action would involve the use of green-field like settings to test existing ideas in a living-lab setting and creating a platform for generating new research ideas. There is an opportunity to unleash the potential of students and alumni (many of whom are already working on this area) to make real change on the ground with potential applications in more advanced economies.  Mobile payment systems were tested in Africa and then gathered a lot of relevance for use in other economies.  This proposal would provide such an opportunity and could benefit from the approaches used elsewhere. Expected Output:  A set of pilot case studies exploring new ideas and technologies in a real life setting.  Expected Outcome:  improved capacity to develop legal and research protocols to conduct testing and assessment of new ideas and technologies;

7) Low Carbon Cities:  Indoor air pollution in Tanzania and Africa in general, is caused mostly by cooking over charcoal stoves because electricity is either unavailable or unreliable and too expensive.  Outdoor air pollution comes from transport, mainly from old vehicles imported used or not properly maintained burning diesel and petrol, power generation from diesel when the rains fail and hydro systems are not available, and as well as industrial and residential emissions from thermal and other sources heavy in greenhouse gases.  The WHO estimates over 600,000 deaths a year from household air pollution and nearly 180,000 deaths per year due to outdoor air pollution in Africa. For Africa to develop its cities in a sustainable manner, it would need to consider lower emissions options in the cheapest manner possible, as affordability is also an issue for the majority of the population.  Africa also needs energy to industrialize and at present there are few sources of cheap renewable energy, despite the reduction in costs of technologies like solar energy.  The cost of air pollution in cities is estimated by UNEP to be as high as 2.7% of GDP and a recent study indicated that economic losses per year due to vehicle emissions to be as high as $1.3 million.  This action would avail Bagamoyo as a test case to develop a real carbon exchange and carbon negative development through the use of marine biomass and other techniques in renewable and efficient energy.  All the carbon avoided in the growth of the city could be used as a substitute for carbon emissions elsewhere and hence qualify for net neutral carbon in the system. Along the lines of the CoLab 2015 U.S. National challenge winner "Plan to build low-carbon cities from the ground up in the United States", Bagamoyo would offer the equivalent of a living prototype capable of inspiring a global trend in new neutral/negative carbon city design and construction around the globe.  The advantage Bagamoyo offers is that it is a relatively small city with most of its expansion in the future in a country and continent that is urbanizing the fastest and hence with a natural development pathway for successful outcomes.  Expected Output:  a publication presenting a prototype for carbon negative development and a report on options for cities to consider.  Expected Outcome: increased knowledge and confidence on carbon neutral and carbon-negative approaches to development.  

8) Teaching Materials:  This action would develop a teaching case that could be used by MIT, Sciences Po in Paris, the University of Ottawa, Columbia University, the AIMS in Tanzania, and Uongozi Institute in Tanzania, on harnessing natural resources to build a sustainable city using Bagamoyo as a test case.  With the support of Uongozi Institute on the ground, students from these universities and institutes would collaboratively go to Bagamoyo to collect data and conduct interviews for the case.  Expected Output:  A set of teaching materials that can be used for further learning, including publications and policy briefs and a canvas that may be replicated in other contexts.  Expected Outcome:  increased capacity for international collaborations of students and professors to develop teaching materials for local and international use.

Risks for the Proposal:  There are a number of risks that need to be acknowledged for this proposal.  The first relates to an argument and perspectives that developing countries cannot and should not seek renewable energy solutions as they are the victims of actions by others and should wait to be compensated for damage caused by other countries.  The proposed set of actions aims at studying alternatives to policy, technology choices and implementation arrangements, including around research, public dialogues between stakeholders and innovation that would allow developing cities and countries to make the best choices available from their local circumstances and contexts on a long-term and sustainable basis.  Bagamoyo has marine biomass and Tanzania has natural gas. Marine biomass is potentially carbon negative while natural gas is lower in greenhouse gas emissions than alternatives.  This risk will be mitigated by seeking affordable options that look at multi-scale system-wide actions (fishing, agriculture, transport, manufacturing, construction, etc) with the potential to solve not only energy issues, but also those related to jobs, productivity, and income.  The second risk is that some of the lessons learned may be too local and not broadly transferable to other cities and countries.  The risk would be mitigated by extracting not only the specific technology or solutions used, but also the policies that are related and the "how-to" approaches for testing and learning from a living lab which would be broadly transferable.  The third risk relates to bridging research capacities across a wide range of institutions for cross-learning, as the proposal anticipates researchers from MIT, Sciences Po, the University of Ottawa, and Columbia University to work with local researchers in Bagamoyo and Tanzania.  This risk would be mitigated by working with local partners the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), which is in search of the Einstein in Africa, and Ungozi Institute, which works with existing and emerging leaders.  These partners have selection criteria for excellence and for developing materials and approaches that are context relevant, and would greatly help mitigate this risk.

Implementation Arrangements:  The BMW Foundation would provide the platform using its Global Table Dialogues and other techniques to support the participants in this initiative.  MIT Alumni in Tanzania would work with alumni in other parts of the world to source the best ideas and research.  Partnerships between MIT alumni and professors and students at other universities including Sciences Po in Paris, the University of Ottawa, and Columbia University would allow cross-learning and active engagement.  The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in Tanzania has recently moved to Bagamoyo where they run a Master's Program, which currently engages 49 very bright students from 13 African countries. Uongozi Institute is also building its new headquarters and related facilities in Bagamoyo and will be moving there as soon as the buildings are completed.  MIT Alumni and other researchers could collaborate in designing and supervising projects with students at AIMS that would contribute to developing Bagamoyo as an exemplar case study in sustainability.  AIMS and Uongozi would also provide a physical base in Bagamoyo to visiting researchers working on aspects of this project.  Both AIMS and Uongozi aim to make their campuses carbon neutral and would be good partners for testing in a living-lab setting a variety of strategies that could be employed. China  could be leveraged as a partner in achieving the overall goals of its Maritime Silk Road strategy during the construction, development and operation phases of the planned expansion in Bagamoyo.

Using the capability of local institutes (Uongozi Institute and AIMS) would provide the chance for implementation of the ideas generated. Lessons learned would have relevance in other cities and locations where MIT alumni currently live or are active. This initiatives would also be greatly relevant to the research projects taking place at MIT.

Further Reading:

Akumu, J. (2014):  "Improving Air Quality in African Cities".  Nairobi:  UNEP.

Bäckstrand, K. (2004):  "Civic-Science for Sustainability: Reframing the Role of Experts, Policy-Makers and Citizens in Environmental Governance."  Global Environmental Politics Vol. 3 (4).  Cambridge, MA:  Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Blake, J. (2007):  "Overcoming the 'value-action gap' in environmental policy: Tensions between national policy and local experience."  Local Environment:  The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability. Vol. 4 (3) pages 257-278.

Bergvall-Käreborn, B., Holst, M., and Stählbröst, A. (2009):  "Concept Design with a Living Lab Approach",  Proceedings of the 42nd Hawaii Conference on Systems Sciences, IEEE.

Ferrao, P. and Fernandez, J.E. (2013):  Sustainable Urban Metabolism.  Cambridge, MA:  MIT Press.

Gouldson, A., Colenbrander, S., McAnulla, F., Sudmant, A., Niall, K., Sakai, P., Hall, S., Papargyropoulou, E., and Kulenstierna, J., (2014):  "The Economic Case for Low Carbon Cities."  The New Climate Economy:  The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. Stockholm Environment Institute.

Haas, T. (2012):  Sustainable Urbanism and Beyond.  New York:  Rizzoli International Publications.

Hemmati, M. (2002):  Multi-Stakeholder Processes for Governance and Sustainability:  Beyond Deadlock And Conflict.  New York:  Earthscan.

Keirstead, J. and Shah, N. (eds.)  (2013):  Urban Energy Systems: An Integrated Approach. New York, USA:  Routledge.

Klass, D.L. (1998):  Biomass for Renewable Energy, Fuels, and Chemicals. San Diego, CA:  Academic Press.

Kullenberg, G. (2001). Contributions of marine and coastal area research and observations towards sustainable development of large coastal cities. Ocean & Coastal Management44(5), 283-291.

Lazarus, N. (2010):  Toolkit for Carbon Neutral Developments:  Construction Materials Report, University of Virginia, USA:  BioRegional Development Group.

Lund, H. (2007):  "Renewable energy strategies for sustainable development." Energy 32 (2007) 912-919.

The Economist (2009):  "The economics of natural gas:  Drowning in it" www. economist.com