Where the World Once Began

A Tribute to Egypt

I. Flight of Time

Soaring like a god on wings Isis-blessed
In search of beginnings – a mystical quest
O’er newly wed mountains and islands estranged
‘Cross deserts of water – my Horus-eye ranged

In a flash I catch sight of her delta arms wide
She bids me fair welcome, this patchwork clad bride
With gold sand swept hair and brown sun baked tan
I am meeting my maker – where the world once began

II. Cacophony of Cairo

The City Victorious bustles and teems
With the chaos of life near bursting its seams
Hooter blasts mingle with chant-calls to pray –
A whirling sound dervish that’s danced every day

The dead and the living find shelter in tombs
The skyline is punctured with crosses and moons
While the tranquil Nile whispers of history unfurled –
The lotus bud blooming of the civilized world

III. Era of Gold

The speaking stones echo down canyons of time …
The vulture and cobra are shown intertwined
Two crowns worn together – the red and the white
As the kingdoms of upper and lower unite

The floodplains turn fertile and peace fills the sky
From the golden creator, the gods multiply
The sun is discovered in Earth’s cavern womb
The word crystallizes in temple and tomb

IV. Pyramids of Knowledge

Blocks hewn from stone form steps up to heaven
In praise of the sun – the spirit to leaven
The chambers within are sanctums of peace
Where the body can sleep and the soul find release

Resting content ‘neath the great shadows three
The lion of wisdom holds life’s precious key
Reflecting the dawn on his time honoured face
Weathered with patience – great guardian of grace

V. Monuments of Glory

Amidst all the rubble and ruins of old
Legends still linger and stories are told
Of glory and power, of order and law
Of beautiful cities and triumphs of war

The towering pylons conceal a great hall
Where a petrified forest of papyrus stands tall
Obelisks and statues rise regal with pride
Protecting the family of gods safe inside

VI. Valley of Kings

The dusty white mountains and valleys converse
In whispers of secrets hid under the earth
Of tunnels and treasures and sarcophagi
Of caves where the queens and the kings came to die

The tombs tell their stories in rainbow relief
Of ochre and kohl, green, blue and gold leaf
The walls speak of journeys from this world to nether
Of Judgement that weighs each heart ‘gainst a feather

VII. River of Life

Tufted green palm trees cling to the shores
Barely escaping the desert’s hot claws
Farmers and fishermen battle the haze
‘Neath the envious eyes of the limestone cliffs’ gaze

On the blissful blue water drift swans graced in white –
The sails of felukas shine billowing bright
The Nile’s ebb and flow are now slaves to the sluice
As the people and river search hard for a truce

VIII. Legacy of Ramses II

For three generations he ruled from the throne
Constructing and carving his likeness in stone
From statues colossi, his praise song still rings –
The original Gulliver, a giant among kings

Still awesome the sight, though millennia have passed:
The mountain of worship whose face is unmasked
Where horses and chariots do battle for kings
Beneath the protection of the gods’ outstretched wings

IX. Vision of Rebirth

Centuries trickle, as the future is frayed
Kingdoms erode and dynasties fade
The sacred ankh’s buried beneath aeons of sand
Its destiny resting in time’s patient hands

But the soul winds are changing, a gold sun’s on the rise
The snake is uncoiling, the bird again flies
From death, life takes breath, we feel the birth pang
And emerge recreated – from where the world once began

Wayne Visser © 2017

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8 lessons from Egypt in building a cleaner chemicals industry

8 lessons from Egypt in building a cleaner chemicals industry

Article by Wayne Visser

Part of the Sustainable Innovation & Technology series for The Guardian.

The technology is there to reduce the environmental impact of Egypt’s chemical sector, but finance and capacity are still lacking.

In previous articles, I have looked at the impacts of the chemicals sector and innovations like green chemistry. But how do we share the technologies that are making the chemicals sector more sustainable, especially in rapidly emerging countries?

To answer this question, I’m going to shine the spotlight on Egypt – where factories are discharging 2.5m cubic metres of untreated effluent into the rivers every day, much of it laced with toxic chemicals. The country also faces a water and energy crisis. But three Egyptian companies are tackling these environmental issues through technology adoption and transfer.

The first is Arab Steel Fabrication Company (El Sewedy), which has applied a technological solution to recover hydrochloric acid from its galvanisation process. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, the company is saving 345,000 Egyptian pounds (£30,000) a year. The second company, Mac Carpet, has used technology to create an automatic system for recycling of thickener agents, which saves it about EGP5m per year.

The third case is El Obour for Paints and Chemical Industries (Pachin), which manufactures paints, inks and resins. As with many chemical companies, the manufacturing process is very energy intensive. As part of a government programme to promote renewable energy in Egypt (part-funded by the EU), a technology company in Germany has installed solar collectors at the Pachin facility. These heat the water to 65C, then by using a heat exchanger, recover the heat and use it to keep the fatty acid store at an optimal temperature, saving the company EGP100,000 a year.

In all three cases, there are lessons to be learned.

1. Economic drivers

When asked about the top three benefits from implementing sustainable technology, El Sewedy and Mac Carpet Company both mentioned resource productivity and economic development. Environmental improvement was also a key factor (in the top three for both), but would have been insufficient on its own to motivate the technology change.

2. Skills development

Significant barriers to technology adoption for both companies were the lack of local qualified workers and institutional capacity. To overcome this, the technology provider and the Egyptian National Cleaner Production Centre (ENCPC) had to do training. Ali Abo Sena, an ENCPC representative, said that education was needed not only on the specific technologies, but also more broadly on the seriousness of the water crisis in Egypt.

3. Business continuity

For Pachin, energy consumption is not just an environmental issue, but one that is business critical. In 2013, the Egyptian government announced plans to ration subsidies for petrol and diesel fuel, and hiked fuel prices for heavy industry by 33% at the beginning of the year. Power outages have become more commonplace, resulting in significant disruption to business continuity and loss of economic value.

4. Market potential

The German solar company was prepared to part-fund, install and support the technology transfer to Pachin in Egypt because it enabled them to show a working demonstration of a project in a market that has massive potential for the business. The marketing benefits of sustainable technology in developing countries should not be underestimated.

5. Macro conditions

It is unlikely that the Pachin project would have been embraced so enthusiastically had Egypt not experienced an energy crisis – and accompanying rises in energy costs – in recent years. Although these macro conditions are beyond the control of sustainable technology providers, being sensitive to the opportunities that they can provide can help ensure that the correct markets are chosen for deployment.

6. Financial support

Although long-term economic development is an important benefit of the adoption of sustainable technologies, the high initial cost of the these projects and the relatively long payback period can be a significant barrier. In the case of Pachin, this was overcome by getting financial support for the project (from the EU and the technology provider).

7. Plan for scaling

A lack of qualified workers to install, operate and maintain Pachin’s solar technology was overcome by providing the relevant skills training. However, in order to ensure future scaling, a plan was also devised for moving towards local manufacturing (possibly through a joint-venture).

8. Local adaptation

The ENCPC – working as an intermediary – determined that the German solar technology was over-engineered for the local conditions. In particular, since the technology was made in Germany and had to comply with EU specifications and perform in a region with ambient sunlight, it was found that the insulation materials could be replaced with less expensive substitutes, which performed adequately under local conditions.

Major reductions in the environmental impacts of the chemicals industry – as well as economic benefits – can be achieved by adopting and transferring existing best practice sustainable technologies. The problem, therefore, is not our lack of sustainable technologies, but our ability to finance, incentivise and build capacity for their deployment where they are most needed in the world.

 

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[button size=”small” color=”blue” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.waynevisser.com/books/the-quest-for-sustainable-business”]Link[/button] The Quest for Sustainable Business (book)

[button size=”small” color=”blue” new_window=”false” link=”http://www.kaleidoscopefutures.com”]Link[/button] Kaleidoscope Futures (website)

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Cite this article

Visser, W. (2014) 8 lessons from Egypt in building a cleaner chemicals industry, The Guardian, 8 October 2014.

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