MagLev 4 Kenya

MagLev [Magnetic Levitation]

Dear Friends.

Infrastructure is a key word in any country that aims to improve the economic well – being of it’s citizenry. Africa has lagged behind other regions of the world in providing high quality, efficient, safe and comfortable means of transport for it’s people. Whereas there are areas in Africa which have world class transportation systems this cannot be said to be ubiquitous in Africa. Many governments have invested alot in roads and airports. The same cannot be said for railways. Today in Africa many nations do not even have a single kilometre of railway on their territory. Yet it has been shown that railways can be a very clean, fast and efficient means of transport.

Whereas some may consider the lack of railways a drawback I consider it an opportunity for Africa to leapfrog advanced economies. Many before the cellphone revolution said Africa should first invest in it’s landline capacity before delving into the then high-tech world of cellular telephony. This is called the linear way of thinking where you try to follow the exact footsteps of the one who went before you. As experience has shown with the cellphone Africa can jump some steps by taking a shortcut.

The current railway system in Europe and NorthAmerica was designed in the 18th century. Because this systems still work relatively well there has been a reluctance by the developed economies in adopting radically new but far superior technology in railway transport. Though Europe has a number of high speed trains like the French TGV (Bullet train) and the German ICE; this pale in comparision to the new kid in the block known by the nick name MagLev.

MagLev stands for Magnetic Levitation. For those of you who studied physics in school you know that when you put two magnets together they repel at the like poles and attract at the unlike poles. In short each magnet has a North and South pole. Two North poles repel as do two South to South poles. This concept of repeling and attracting has been put to good use in the maglev to achieve the first truly flying train.

Current high speed trains face difficulties of wear and tear on their wheels because of the friction and enormous stresses and strains of having to conform to the railway line. Thats why high speed rails are specially built and reinforced to withstand high pressure. The maintainance costs are also very high because they have to be constantly checked for deformities and fractures. This applies to both the rails and the wheels of the trains. In addition from a scientific standpoint the current railsystem is inherently unstable because a slight curve or deformity on the rail at high speed would lead to a derailment.

In contrast the MagLev is inherently stable because of the way it hugs the rails. This means it is practically impossible to derail. Secondly because it has no contact with the rail, their is hence no wear and tear therefore maintenance is potentially very cost effective. Finally because it uses electricity it is clean, noiseless and very fast. Infact theoretically a maglev’s speed is only limited by it’s aerodynamic resistance and energy coefficient.

Africa has an excellent opportunity to adopt this technology right away. In Germany which is a world leader in this type of technology the major problem in developing this train has been finding the necessary permits and land to build it. In addition the costs of tearing down a perfectly working railway system to replace it with an expensive system is politically unsavoury. Africa faces no such problems. Right now the greatest disadvantage quoted by many is the cost of putting up this system. However when the cellphone started out it was quite expensive, infact way more expensive than fixed lines. However as the uptake improved the costs gradually reduced. This is where Africa should lead and follow the Chinese example who were the first country in the world to prove it can be done commercially.

Given the many problems experienced by Kenya and by extension Uganda with the Rift – Valley Railways consortium and the threat of new competition from Tanzania which is building a modern standard gauge railway to Kigali, [Rwanda] and Gitega, [Burundi]. I would strongly urge the Kenyan govt to think outside the box and carry out a feasibility study with a view to developing the first African MagLev project. With infrastructure bonds becoming successful we could even do it without outside help. Kenya Yes We Can.



8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Douglas said,

    Great. This is very true. Africa needs truly passionate people to propel the continent into development.

  2. 2

    jellyfishcoolman said,

    Douglas thanks for your comment. You accurately reflect my sentiments. We really need to have a proactive, positive and passionate zeal to succeed. Experience has shown when a society is determined to succeed it usually does.

    • 3

      Douglas said,

      Yes, sure. I like that comment “a society determined to succeed will succeed”. It reflects the “Law of attraction”, a universal principle that guides everything n everyone.

  3. 4

    gmeltdown said,

    Cant agree more with your plea to the Kenya government. If only the populace could discover that for every misfortune/downside we find ourselves in, there lay an opportunity to rise up and flourish.

    Indeed our poor fixed phone line infrastructure was the opportunity to embrace mobile telephony. The dilapidated state of our railway infrastructure is yet another opportunity for brave move to invest in a MagLev based infrastructure. Money is rarely the problem, the problem is breaking away from retarded development ideologies.

  4. 5

    jellyfishcoolman said,

    Thanks Gmeltdown I look forward to more contacts with you on this. If you have friends in high places please show them this site and let them see the videos for themselves. Maybe we can adopt sooner than we think. We could also lobby the govt with non political ideas sometimes they might use it to propel their political agendas something I would welcome very much indeed. Politics is meant to be issue oriented or rather development oriented.

  5. 6

    Emily Morris said,

    We agree, JellyFish. Maglev is no longer a technology of the “future” — we have developed and tested the technology and it is ready for deployment. Leapfrogging technology is absolutely essential in most places in Africa where current infrastructure is outdated and poorly maintained. I actually wrote a research paper at Vanderbilt University where I examined the need for leapfrogging to environmentally clean transit technology in Africa, if you are interested. Please view our website for more information!

    • 7

      jellyfishcoolman said,

      Dear Emily.

      Thank you Emily. Already saw your website and I follow you on twitter. Thank you for your contribution. Soon we hope to contact your institute to actually sign contracts to build something. I totally agree the technology is long overdue for implementation.

  6. 8

    fgtcrpn said,

    Hey, how would maglev benefit kenya.

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