"Our sovereign king is ill, let’s pray for him, tragedy eventually comes knocking on the door of the unknown," Burkinabe rapper Smarty says in his track "Le Chapeau du Chef" ("The boss’s hat"), which was released back in 2012. The song, which now sounds almost like a prophetic warning to Burkina Faso’s recently ousted President Blaise Compaoré, has become an anthem for the head of state’s opposition.
The West African country is now currently looking for a way out of the crisis and Smarty’s lyrics also questioned the aftermath of a change of power. "The king is going to die, the village knows that. But what will happen after, even the king hasn’t thought about that," he raps.
Before performing as the opening act for the Ivorian singer Tiken Jah Fakoly in Paris on Tuesday, Smarty moderated his thoughts on the ousted president in an interview with France24 on Monday: "Blaise Compaoré had the greatness of spirit to leave and offer a new way, the way of freedom for Burkina Faso."
"For this transition to work, we need someone who does not have any political calculations," the rapper said, as the opposition handed over a draft of a transition charter to the army, which has ruled the country since Compaoré’s resignation almost 2 weeks ago. "The people have issued a warning to the former power, but also to those that will come," he added.
Smarty told France24 he was "very scared" during the two days of the uprising in late October. But he is now looking towards the future: "Burkina Faso will get through this; we are upright people who know how to take our responsibilities. As soon as the uprising ended, people started sweeping the streets and putting their towns back in order," he says.
Along with Chadian rapper Manwdoé, Smarty used to be the other half of hip hop duo Yeleen expand=1]. The two artists produced five albums together, played around the world for 10 years and won several awards. In his solo career Smarty has also been hugely successful. Considered one of Burkina Faso’s best artists, he released his first album in 2012, Afrikan Kouleurs, centering both on a quality rap and African issues.
With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.
CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.
Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.
It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.
Abundant sunshine, low temperatures
The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.
Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.
It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.
Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park
Chinese want to expand
The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.
The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.
The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.
The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.
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