INSPORTS in limbo

first_imgThe Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) has found itself in a bind as the role of the administrative director, Ian Andrews, particularly as it relates to signing powers, has not been restored – as mandated – by the board of directors, which is led by Don Anderson.As a result, staff and creditors of the government-run agency are being significantly impacted as health benefits and personal deductions for staff, which have been signed by Andrews, are not being co-signed by Anderson or any other board member.Also, some creditors who have rendered services in various sports development programmes carried out by the government organisation cannot be paid, as Anderson refuses to co-sign the cheques with the administrative director.And only last week, one creditor, Edward Cooke, filed for compensation by the agency through his lawyer, for monies ($619,000) owed by INSPORTS.The issue is long-running, since September last year when Andrews was sent on administrative leave and his signing powers revoked by the board, following appraisal by the Auditor General’s Department.The Jamaica Civil Service Association (JCSA), which mediates on behalf of government workers, intervened and cited discrepancies in the removal, noting that it was unconstitutional.It said the decision to send Andrews on administrative leave was not in line with public-sector leave protocol and instructed Andrews to remain in his job as the board acted irrational and without foundation.The JCSA also insisted that Andrews’ signing powers be restored and even warned against the current dilemma facing the Institute, as a result of the administrative director’s signing restrictions.”This goes against proper governance … and will impair the smooth running of operations,” a portion of the letter from the bargaining unit shared.Further, it said because the bank had already accepted on the board’s request to relieve Andrews of signing power, it called on Anderson to make the corrective changes with the bank to restore such privileges.Since then, the Ministry of Finance and the permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister have instructed Anderson to restore the signing powers of the administrative director. However, he has refused.The request was first made at a meeting between representatives of government ministries, the INSPORTS board and Andrews.In a letter to Anderson dated November 9, 2015, Alison McLean, chief technical director, Ministry of Finance, called for the expedition of the removal of the administrative leave and that “any consequential arrangements that were predicated on that instruction be rescinded from the date of the correspondence as agreed in the October 6, 2015 meeting”.A second letter to Anderson, dated November 18, 2015, from Elaine Foster-Allen, permanent secretary attached to the OPM, instructed: “Following our conversation this morning (Foster-Allen-Anderson), I write to confirm that the directives issued in relation to the administrative leave of administrative director Ian Andrews, which has been withdrawn, also indicated that his authority to sign on behalf of the Institute of Sports has been restored.”Please be kind enough to indicate that this has been done.”When The Gleaner asked Anderson about his refusal to follow the directives, he gave no clear answer.”That is a redundant question (why Andrews’ signing power is not restored). When you spoke to me last week I told you exactly what the position was … The thing about it is that I have answered this question already, unless you are trying to stoke up something else,” he said.”Talk to me in a few days time and all will be clear, hopefully. But I have to be sensible about my response, so later on we will talk,” he promised.last_img read more

Mobile money is transforming Africa’s economy

first_imgA “disruptive innovation”, mobile bank accounts have taken off across Africa, particularly in Kenya, where the alternative to traditional banking has spread rapidly and outstrips technology available in the US and Europe. Mobile bank accounts bring banking to millions of poor people unable to access traditional banks, allowing them to save money and better their lives. This micro-banking particularly benefits African women. (Image: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation via Flickr) • Mobile phone boost to African internet • Kenya takes banking to the poor • Zimbabwe: Africa’s first cashless society? • Seven reasons to be optimistic about Africa • Africa’s high-tech boom boosts the continent’s competitiveness Lesley Silverthorn MarincolaI live in the heart of Silicon Valley and am still dependent on a piece of plastic I have to carry around with me everywhere. From gas to groceries, I pay with my credit card.With the introduction of Apple Play only six months ago, Americans are only now starting to experience the smartphone-enabled proliferation of US mobile money services. Yet, perhaps because not every buyer has an iPhone 6 and not every vendor has a near field communication terminal, credit cards dominate the US market and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.However, some 15 000 kilometres from Silicon Valley, in Nairobi, Kenya, a far more widely adopted mobile money service has exploded. Unlike the mobile money experience that US users are just beginning to adopt, using mobile money in Kenya does not require a smartphone, or a credit card. In fact, it doesn’t even require a bank account. Already, two out of every three adult Kenyans actively use it and it accounts for more around 18% of Safaricom’s revenue, more than SMS and data combined.A mobile banking vendor in Tanzania, Kenya’s southern neighbour. (Image: Development Planning Unit, University College of London, via Flickr)Disruptive innovationSafaricom’s M-Pesa is the leading platform behind the mobile money revolution. On registering a SIM card through Safaricom, the leading telecom company in Kenya, a user can simultaneously register to use M-Pesa. Across Kenya, a network of “human ATMs” has emerged, where M-Pesa users can either deposit cash into their mobile wallets (thereby tying a cash balance to their phone number) or withdraw cash that has been sent to their mobile number. By the end of 2014, there were 81 000 M-Pesa agents across Kenya, and you’d be hard-pressed to travel anywhere in the country and not find an M-Pesa agent. In fact, M-Pesa agents are more prevalent per capita in Kenya than ATMs are in the United States.M-Pesa’s evolution is a shining example of how disruptive innovation often stems from markets that lack many basic technologies and infrastructure. In Kenya, over 80% of the population lives without access to grid electricity, instead relying on dim, toxic and expensive kerosene fuel combustion to light their homes. However, even without power, most of these off-grid families and small businesses own mobile phones. Of course, these aren’t iPhones with capacitive touch screens and instant access to the app store. The phones they own are probably Nokia or Samsung feature phones with an alphanumeric keypad and a black and white LCD display. By leveraging this basic phone, intricate platforms like M-Pesa can offer an attractive alternative to stashing cash underneath a mattress.Watch a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation video on the mobile banking revolution:From mailing cheques to using PayPal, US customers have no lack of options for storing and sending money. In Kenya, before M-Pesa, sending money to family members was done by stuffing physical cash into an envelope, entrusting it to an unknown bus driver, and hoping it reached its destination without anything skimmed off the top. Recognising the need for a better solution, Safaricom launched a successful marketing campaign by assuring customers they could cheaply, quickly and securely “Send Money Home” with M-Pesa. In the US, where credit cards already work without too much hassle, a user needs far more convincing to make the transition to mobile money. In countries like Kenya, which has seen the exponential adoption of the mobile feature phone amid energy and formal banking scarcities, using M-Pesa is a no-brainer.Reaching off-gridFor unbanked Kenyans and many other countries where mobile money has expanded, M-Pesa has become far more than a way to send money home. Routine purchases like airtime or utility bills are paid via mobile money. Retailers of all sizes accept M-Pesa merchant payments for groceries, cab fares, airline tickets or even school fees.Microfinance organisations are even able to offer lower interest rates due to saving on cash collection costs by receiving payments through mobile money. Angaza, for example, leverages a variety of mobile money platforms, from Airtel Money to Tigo Pesa to Safaricom’s M-Pesa, to receive pay-as-you-go energy payments from solar product micro-loans.In off-grid markets like East Africa, solar energy can provide a reliable and affordable source of electricity for light, mobile phone charging, and powering electronics like radios and refrigerators. However, the upfront cost barrier of a solar home system keeps them out of financial reach of most off-grid consumers. By spreading out the cost of a solar home system over time via affordable weekly payments, solar energy becomes widely accessible, even to families earning less than $2 a day. All of this is possible thanks to the incredible growth of M-Pesa, which enables pay-as-you-go customers to make their weekly payments easily and securely.Apple is innovative, yes. But Kenya has attracted the global spotlight when it comes to the mobile money innovation. It may take many years for Apple Pay to reach the prominence that mobile money has experienced in a country where even electricity is a luxury.Lesley Silverthorn Marincola is CEO of Angaza Design, and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper from the San Francisco Hub. This article originally appeared on the WEF Agenda blog.last_img read more

Wolfe Island Passive House — An Introduction

first_img BLOGS BY DAVID MURAKAMI WOOD Site plan and orientationThe new house will be part of a group of buildings that include the existing house and the existing barn. It also is oriented to take maximum advantage of the sun for light, passive solar heating, solar thermal water heating, and solar electric generation. This means ignoring all the traditional reasons for house orientation on the island, such as alignment with roads or, more recently, lake views.The house will be placed where the soil is thinnest — it’s only 10 inches to bedrock in this area, whereas farther down the slope, the soil is deeper and better for growing. That said, we will be making a courtyard kitchen garden in the triangular space created by the lines of the stone wall that runs along the pathway alongside the old house, the west side of the new house and the barn, but this will have deep raised beds. Changing plans in midstreamJust when we thought we had everything worked out as well as we could and were happy enough, we got news of a completely different way of building the house that instead of being just good enough would be perfect.We had a project-transforming meeting with Malcolm Isaacs, one of the founders of the Canadian Passive House Institute. Isaacs taught the Passive House course taken by our architect, Mikaela Hughes. Malcolm has just started to work with some manufacturers in Germany and Austria who make factory-built wooden Passive House components (walls, roofs, windows, etc.). These are built to far higher specifications that anything that’s possible to find in Canada, and the materials come from sustainable sources.Mark Leno CLT panels.The structure — including all external and internal walls, floors, ceilings, and roof — of our new house will entirely consist of Merk Leno cross-laminated timber (CLT), just about the strongest form of timber there is. The external structure will be clad in Schneiderholz wood fiberboard insulation. All of this comes cut to the millimeter from the factory in Austria and is sent over by sea in shipping containers.It should take about two months from order to delivery, which gets us into September — way too late to start building, right? But the trick is that once they get here, the components should take no more than two or three days to put together with a crane and a whole lot of long screws, rather like giant Ikea furniture!Add a water-resistant but breathable layer — absolutely no vapor barrier, which would obstruct the natural qualities of the wood. Add local white cedar cladding over a rainscreen and a basic steel roof, and that’s pretty much it for the structure.An improvement over earlier plansThis is all good. Not only is this going to be as highly insulated as our previous plans, but it will be a lot more tightly sealed, with far better finishing, far higher quality windows (more about that in a future post) and… believe it or not… will be cheaper than the stick-frame and structural insulated panel combination we had almost settled on.The lower price is due to several factors: mainly the fact that there will be no framing or trusses, and hardly any drywalling or painting and other finishing, but also the fact that the manufacturers are looking to expand into North America, and we are one of the first willing test subjects. So right now, Mikaela is hard at work redrawing the plans a little to accommodate this pretty fundamental change (which isn’t the only one, but I’ll write more about that later).One big question here: why isn’t there a Canadian company that can do this? You would think that with Canada’s forestry industry needing new ideas, the cold climate, and the massive home-building market here, a made-to-measure wooden Passive House company would clean up.It seems to me that most houses will (or should) be built this way in 30 years. There are Canadian producers of CLT, but most of it is vastly inferior to that produced in Europe, and what’s more, they simply don’t have the facilities to custom cut in the same way. No one produces wood-fiber insulation. Canada is still dominated by the belief in cheap fossil fuels and the idea of infinitely expandable land and resources. There are so many reasons why this has to change, but it isn’t changing very fast. We explored all kinds of ideas and had two different sets of architects come up with plans, but once they were costed, we realized we would have to spend a lot of money to improve the place, and we’d still end up with a house that had fundamental and unresolvable problems.We thought about demolition and rebuilding on the same footprint, but the house has a basement, which is just dug into the rock and which sucks heat out of the house, and has water flowing through it much of the time. To build a south-facing house on the same site, we’d have to either fill this in entirely or build the new house diagonally over the basement, which would make the area much bigger than we wanted or needed. In the end, we decided to build completely afresh, but to keep the old house, converting it into a studio and guest space, demolishing the newest addition, and converting the first addition into a single garage. We then plan to refinish the old place in the same white cedar siding and steel roofing we will use for the new place. Adding the Insulation Building With Cross-Laminated TimberWindows, Doors, and UtilitiesThe Envelopecenter_img Editor’s note: David and Kayo Murakami Wood are building what they hope will be Ontario’s first certified Passive House on Wolfe Island, the largest of the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence River. They are documenting their work at their blog, Wolfe Island Passive House. This post was originally published on July 2015; it is the first in a blog series that GBA will publish about the project. RELATED ARTICLES Building an Off-Grid Home in CanadaCarl Seville: The Third Time’s the CharmBlue Heron EcoHaus: Let Construction BeginA Timber-Frame House for a Cold Climate — Part 1Rebuilding a Mid-Century DinosaurA Low-Energy House for Northern MinnesotaBuilding a Small House in the White Mountains We have an acre lot in the village of Marysville on Wolfe Island, one lot back from the shore of Lake Ontario. The land slopes gradually down toward the main road and then to the lake shore to the north-west. The existing house sits towards the southern corner of the land. It’s an old military barracks house, one of several that were bought by local farmers from the army and shipped across from the mainland after the War of 1812.When we moved here five years ago, our original plan was to refurbish this house to make it super-highly insulated and add solar power and so on. The main house is fine, if tiny, but like most houses on the island, the place was originally oriented toward the road, and the windows on the southwest side are small. That makes the house pretty cold at all times of year, and dark in all the downstairs rooms, particularly the kitchen-dining room.It has been insulated with blown-in cellulose in the framing, and doesn’t score too badly on a blower-door test, but it’s still very cold in winter. The water, septic, and plumbing systems are all pretty disastrous and not up to any kind of contemporary building code. Finally, the whole thing is finished in some horrible cream-colored vinyl siding and the roof is the standard asphalt shingles.last_img read more

Younghusbands’ dilemma

first_imgTS Kammuri to enter PAR possibly a day after SEA Games opening Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games PLAY LIST 00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:50Trending Articles02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting View comments DUBAI—Phil Younghusband remembers scrambling through his mobile phone, while the rest of his family and friends were having Christmas dinner in England as he tried to assess the situation.Older brother, James, was showing a friend around London when he received the call that they no longer have a club to play for next season.ADVERTISEMENT LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte LATEST STORIES Although the Azkals have dropped their first two matches in Group C to powerhouse sides South Korea and China, James said they have been fortunate to be part of the national squad here, where their teammates and staff have been very supportive.“They’ve been fantastic,” said James, who has 100 appearances for the Azkals.“There are people off the field who have been very supportive. They’ve helped us to focus solely on the national team. It’s obviously not ideal.”Citing the uncertainty on the future of the Philippines Football League (PFL), the Aguilas pulled out for the coming season as the club opted to focus on grassroots and youth development.Another player in the national team, Adam Reed, was also a part of the Aguilas before their pullout.The Younghusband brothers signed a long-term deal with the Aguilas when they were lured from Meralco Manila in 2017. Whether that deal stands remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: the brothers still want to continue playing next season.ADVERTISEMENTcenter_img LOOK: Joyce Pring goes public with engagement to Juancho Triviño MOST READ SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion “It’s been challenging, mentally, to get through this to try and put our club situations on the back of our minds and put our focus here because the Asian Cup is now and we should be concentrating,” said Phil.“But it’s difficult to think what our future is going to be like, how are we going to support our family and ourselves. It’s all up in the air.”“It’s never come to this point where I feel this way emotionally. I feel more pressure, I have more responsibility now. It’s not easy but as James said, we have had challenges before and we’ve come through, it will not be any different this time.”James said he is hoping to take the lessons from this experience and help other players avoid the same fate as his and his brother’s.“This is an experience for me to take into the future and hope that it won’t happen to others,” said James. “I think it’s important that to have a bit more empathy for people.”Phil is hopeful that club football eventually improves in the Philippines.“It’s scary to think how fragile and unstable Philippine football is at the moment,” said Phil. “But we’re in a better position now, 10 years ago when the football community was very small. With the right steps taken off the field, it will improve. It’s not too late. If we did it then, then we can do it now.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next SEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completion Is Luis Manzano planning to propose to Jessy Mendiola? More events, more golden chances for Team PH The holiday season was far from festive for the Younghusband brothers, who tried to stay focused on the Philippine Azkals’ maiden Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Asian Cup appearance here amid the uncertainty surrounding their careers.Following the decision made by the Davao Aguilas not to field a professional team this year, the brothers were left without a club heading into the coming season—the first time in almost a decade that they are without a job.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“It’s been very difficult,” admitted Phil, the country’s top international scorer with 52 goals in 106 appearances.“It’s been very challenging especially at a festive time of the year where we wanted to be with our families.”last_img read more