Horizons newsletter – Week 5 // 2017
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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Digging with data: a goldmine
Mining company Rio Tinto recently deployed 73 house-sized self-driving robot trucks across four mines in Australia. These chunky, yellow vehicles are in operation 24/7, lack a driver’s cabin and therefore don’t distinguish between reversing or accelerating forward. The use of these trucks sounds very progressive, but it is actually not surprising since mining is one of the most mature industries implementing autonomous and internet-connected machinery. This valuable equipment and often-dangerous work environment forms a strong rationale for investments into this technology. Furthermore, considering the expense of maintaining a workforce on remote sites, the use of sensor-based technology yields clear cost savings. One of the many industries that could follow the line taken by mining is agriculture. As in mining, agricultural work can be dull, dirty and sometimes dangerous. Autonomous machinery and data from sensors can support ‘precision farming’, improve the transparency of the supply chain and therefore limit waste. So, while sensor-based technology is often expected to evolve in the home or for self-driving cars, the first mature industries will be found elsewhere.
Democracy in Africa
Democracy seems to be under threat around the world, from the Philippines to Russia and Turkey, where Erdogan could rule until 2029 if a presidential system passes in a referendum. At the same time, populism is spreading throughout the west. Interestingly, sub-Saharan Africa seems to be bucking this trend. When a popular vote elected Adama Barrow in the Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh who had ruled for 22 years, refused to step down. Subsequently, countries in the regional organization ECOWAS, in particular Senegal and Nigeria, mobilized to remove the dictator and Jammeh fled without a fight. For a long time African countries were reluctant to interfere in each other’s affairs, which allowed many dictators to remain in office. Over the last few years however, this tolerance is decreasing. In East Africa, countries like Kenya have been active in battling terrorist group al-Shabaab in Somalia, and in 2011 an international alliance removed the dictator Laurent Gbagbo from power in the Ivory Coast. That African countries more openly oppose dictatorships in the region, is a rare bright spot for the future of democracy.
Clean Air Control
In the 19th century the car was introduced as a simple solution to improve urban air quality, because it was perceived as a form of horseless carriage without manure. But the car has since changed the face of the city and created its own problems: car emissions and the use of fossil fuels are now major causes of traffic jams and sub-standard air quality in cities around the globe. In the developing regions of South Asia, Africa and East Asia and Pacific almost 2 billion children live in urban areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds the minimum air quality standards set by the World Health Organization. Another 300 million children live in cities where the air is actually toxic. Clean air is also becoming scarce in urban areas in developed countries. At the C40 summit, the mayors of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City decided to ban diesel cars and vans by 2025. Cities are testing new solutions to fight air pollution, like electric or self-driving cars. But if history teaches us a lesson, the self-driving car will bring up its own problems.