DINNER PARTY INTEL: Solar to smoke out tobacco?
1. Burying the hatchet
A petty trade dispute between neighbours Kenya and Tanzania appears to have been resolved, but the feud shows that efforts to enhance regional integration are moving at a snail’s pace.
Kenya had banned cooking gas and wheat imports from Tanzania, while Tanzania blocked Kenyan milk and tyres at the border. But the bigger problems include slow customs procedures and an inability to implement directives to ease trade within the East African Community.
2. Solar to smoke out tobacco?
Michigan Technological University researchers say tobacco farmers could increase profits by converting their land to solar farms. As demand for clean energy grows, so does the demand for land for solar farms. But removing arable land from food production can cause a rise in food prices.
Tobacco croplands provide an interesting opportunity: tobacco use in the US is declining but it is still farmed because it can be profitable. Researcher Joshua Pearce says: "The cost of solar has dropped so dramatically it is already economically advantageous for farmers to replace tobacco with solar in many situations."
3. Volatility here to stay
There was no specific news item behind the free fall in US stocks on Monday, when the Dow Jones plunged almost 1,600 points at one point. But the stronger US economy has sparked fears that US interest rates, which have been largely flat for a decade, are starting to rise. Others think the sell-off is something of a market correction after strong gains in US stock markets.
The drop, which wiped out the Dow’s gains since the start of the year, has had a ripple effect on stock markets around the world.
Expect more volatility, analysts say.