e-TBI is a partnership between the Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), universities, industry, international government and foundation participants to demonstrate ‘a living laboratory for sustainability’ in northern Kenya. e-TBI aims to serve as a model to address the grand challenges of energy, water and information technology sustainability in the remote regions of the developing world, and offer economic development opportunity to local communities through research and education.
The mission of e-TBI is to provide sustainable energy, water and information technology solutions in remote regions of sub-Saharan Africa, while helping to reduce poverty in the local communities through education, technology transfer and capacity building. The e-TBI experience will be carefully analyzed, disseminated and adopted in other regions of the developing world through participating partners to achieve the shared vision.
Samuel Aronson is a Co-founding Director of Innovative Global Energy Solutions Center (igesc). He was the Director of Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) and President of Brookhaven Science Associates. Currently, he is the President of the American Physical Society (APS). His research has focused on experimental particle and nuclear physics, with some forays into novel methods of particle acceleration and the search for new fundamental forces. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and APS.
Benjamin Hsiao, is a Co-founding Director of Innovative Global Energy Solutions Center (igesc) and Professor of Chemistry and Material Science & Engineering at Stony Brook University, where he served as department chair and Vice President for Research. He has gained national and international prominence for his work on the development of nanostructured polymeric materials for energy, water purification and medical applications. He is an elected Fellow of the AAAS, APS, American Chemical Society, National Academy of Inventors, and received the Chang-Jiang Scholar honor from Education Ministry of China.
Richard Leakey, is a politician, paleoanthropologist, conservationist, founder and Chair of Turkana Basin Institute, and visionary Kenyan citizen. His most important contribution to the understanding of human origins included the extraordinary discovery of the nearly complete 1.6 million year old skeleton of the “Nariokotome Boy” (or “Turkana Boy”), a Homo erectus youth. He has also devoted his life to fighting for political justice, lecturing on environmental sustainability, and fostering wildlife conservation in Kenya. He is Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society.
Lawrence Martin, is Director of the Turkana Basin Institute. Previously, he served as the Dean of the Graduate School at Stony Brook University, in which position he was nationally and internationally known for his work in graduate education. Prior to his administrative role, Martin built an impressive record of both field-based and laboratory research and scholarship in physical anthropology and is regarded as one of the leading authorities on the evolution of apes and the origin of humans.
Devinder Mahajan, holds a joint appointment between Stony Brook University and BNL and is the Director of the National Science Foundation’s Center for BioEnergy Research & Development. He served as a Jefferson Science Fellow in the Bureau of Energy Resources at the State Department, where he worked on developing linkages between energy policy and technology. His research interests include a portfolio of energy projects on biogas, methane hydrates, biomass and natural gas conversion into liquid fuels.
Yacov Shamash, is the Vice President for Economic Development and Dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Stony Brook University, where he supervises the University’s three incubators, two New York State Centers for Advanced Technology, the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT), and the Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center. His research has focused on the utilization of electrical engineering and computer science technologies to advance global sustainability. He is an elected fellow of IEEE.
Satya Sharma, is Director of CEWIT and a faculty member of Department of Mechanical Engineering. Before joining Stony Brook, he was Senior Vice President at Symbol Technologies, overseeing World-Wide Operations, Mobile Computing & Wireless Engineering, and Quality & Process Improvements. Prior to Symbol, he was Director of AT&T Power Systems. Dr. Sharma has carried out research in a wide variety of disciplines including wireless and mobile computing, quality management, and materials science.
Africa has the most youthful population on earth, and its population growth is faster than anywhere else – projected to grow from 1 billion people now to over 3.5 billion by the end of this century. The continent is rich in natural resources, such as oils, minerals and agricultural land however, it also struggles with a disproportionate share of diseases, poverty and hunger. This challenge is not unique to Africa. Abundant examples are also present in the developing countries in Asia and South America. Today, an estimated 1.3 billion people do not have access to electricity, about 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and many regions in the developing world lack sufficient water to grow crops for food. In fact, many rural and urban regions in the developing world are facing tipping points that could lead to widespread human suffering, instability, and chaos as basic needs such as food, water, and fuel for cooking and heating become scarce.
What can be useful to deal with this epic problem is the adoption of an integrated, systems-based approach that provides sustainable solutions to a village setting in rural regions, where these solutions can lead to opportunities for economic development, increase public health, and stabilize regions. Similar to leapfrogging to a cellular network-based communication system by bypassing a landline-based system, rural areas in developing countries might be able to take advantage of new technologies that generate and store electricity locally, rather than building large-scale distribution systems.
The establishment of e-TBI is to realize the above vision by demonstrating innovative and sustainable solutions in remote regions of sub-Saharan Africa, based on sound understanding of the local challenges, and integration of the best science, engineering and technology, as well as development of experiential educational and viable business plans for deployment of solutions. Without question, local energy generation and storage infrastructure can make electricity available for cooking and heating, lighting, and communication. Sustainable energy systems will enable irrigation of cropland, transportation and distribution of water, as well as sanitation and purification of water.
Turkana Basin Institute
A World Renowned Research Site
The Turkana Basin Institute (TBI), established in 2005 by world-famous paleontologist and visionary Kenyan citizen Richard Leakey and Stony Brook University, is a privately funded collaborative and multi-disciplinary enterprise that provides logistical support to scientists to advance human prehistory and related earth and natural science research in northern Kenya. TBI has three facilities in Kenya: two field centers near Lake Turkana in the Turkana Basin (TBI-Turkwel and TBI-Ileret) and administrative offices in Kenya’s capital city (TBI-Nairobi), as well as its international academic headquarters at Stony Brook University. The basin covers 209,157 km2, mostly in Kenya, and includes several smaller lakes in Ethiopia. Both field centers are fully equipped to house visitors and students year-round to analyze the needs of the sub-Saharan environment, field test solutions, and offer hands-on training for participants from around the world.
Turkana is the least developed county in Kenya. The region has abundant renewable energy resources (e.g., solar, wind, biomass and geothermal), but environmental degradation has been a way of life (e.g., trees to charcoal production is alarming) for the local communities, some of the poorest in Kenya. The recent discovery of commercially viable oil and gas reserves may transform the region in five years.