## Books

A list of some books that I have read.

On this page I will list some books that I have read. I like reading on a wide variety of topics, I practice this activity as a form of studying on a regular basis for which I set aside time, and also as a form of entertainment in parallel. I do not read only one book at a time. I start off with several books and finish them at different intervals. This also helps me to progress on books that I find difficult to focus on for a long period of time. I read paper printed books and digital ebooks on a Kobo reader (you can instally an open source OS on it!) as I wanted to avoid using the Amazon eco system. I also listen to audio books. I also have a few lists of books that I want to complete, one of them is a list of Russian literature novels. I read books in 3 languages, mainly in English, German and French.

One of my favorite books is Der Zauberberg by Thomas Mann. Why do I like this book in particular? I like the way the author constructs his sentences, uses extensive vocabulary in a way that just is naturally pleasing, has the ability to describe the scenes and emotions of the plot in a way I can only admire! It is really a piece of art, it feels like consuming a very delicious liqueur with chocolate.

## Electricity Generation from Different Solar PV Cell Technologies

In our previous article, “an introduction to the basics of electricity and solar systems in Mauritius” was made. In this article, a key component of the solar photovoltaic (PV) technology is discussed – Solar PV Cells. Solar PV cells are the basic unit of the common solar PV modules/panels, and they are available in different types. The different technologies of solar PV cells depend on the material used in making the cells. Solar PV technology, simply put, provide means to generate electricity by the action of sunlight on semiconductor materials.

The most common solar PV technology in terms of global deployment is the crystalline silicon based solar panels, which according to the MIT Energy Institute, represented about 90% of solar PV modules as at 2015. Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) reported in May 2020 that crystalline silicon-based PV technology accounted for about 95% of global PV technology production in 2017. Crystalline silicon is based on the silicon element of the periodic table and is discussed later.

## Market Creating Innovation Changes Lives in Africa

As I sat waiting in good company for some delicious Mukimo Kienyeji with beef stew on the first floor’s veranda of Leeks Restaurant located in Ruaka, Kiambu county, Kenya. I leaned against the railing on that hot sunny bright blue sky day of the beginning of year 2019 and gazed through my sunglasses on the well known busy street called Limuru road. Little did I know of, neither did it ever cross my mind as a travel objective, that some day I’ll find myself to be in the land of the book “The River Between” written by Ngugi that we read and studied in high school in Mauritius, in our teenager years. Honestly back then, in literature class, I had great difficulty following the narrators story. Just like other works such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth! So it is for a young man who still had to go out there and see the world… Which would shape his perceptions, gain some maturity and gradually understand a little more the languages of those great thinkers! I will soon read “The River Between” again with great anticipation, after several decades, and am pretty sure the same book, will speak to me very differently… Have you experienced similar in your life?

## An introduction to the basics of electricity and solar systems in Mauritius

Intro by Dietmar

After reading the interesting and inspiring thesis of Onyedika Atuchukwu on a Hybrid System for a rice factory processing plant in Nigeria that is connected to an unreliable grid, I discussed with him if we could do a project on the basics of electricity and an introduction on solar systems in Mauritius to get better acquainted with the subject. You are most likely consuming electricity at the moment you are reading this in one way or the other. Whether it is from your phone’s battery or your desktop PC connected to the CEB grid, having the lights on, the air con running etc. Electricity plays an important role in our daily lives. Sometimes when I hire an electrician to fix something, I realise my short comings on this subject and I wished, I knew more on this topic. Just like when reading my CEB bill, what does kilowatt hour (kWh) mean? How is the price calculated? How much might a solar system cost? How long might it take until I would have fully amortized the costs? How interesting is it for example for a beach villa that is operated as a holiday rental unit? These are some of the topics that we have addressed in this project. Please bear in mind that this project is only an introduction to these themes, the topic of electricity is vast and solar systems can be complex and have various variants on how these can be setup. What not to expect in this project is an analysis of local existing solar systems nor solar farms that are present in Mauritius. Links to projects and companies are not endorsements, these are for information purposes only. You are welcome to contribute questions and information around this topic in the comments section.

Onyedika recently finished his Bachelor degree in the study field of Electrical Power Systems Engineering at the The African Leadership University in Mauritius.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the topic of electricity and solar energy with Onyedika.

## SAFER Pest Control – A Pest Control company in the North of Mauritius

I had some issues with termites in my cup boards which Eric took good care of. Eric has a decade of experience in the field of pest control and recently started his own company. He knows well his products and also has some of his own mixtures. The latter was applied to my cupboards – with excellent results.

I find it inspiring and motivating to see people launch their own business. I’m curious to know what drives them, what got them there and why are they doing it from an entrepreneurs perspective. Which fears did they have? How did they overcome them, and a midst risk and adversities started to go ahead. How does a business leader think? Get to know the man who is behind SAFER Pest Control. If you are looking for pest control services in the northern part of Mauritius, I can definitely recommend his company. Reliable, shows up on the day that the appointment has been set and does a good job. Without further ado, let’s begin with the interview.

## The Maybe View of Life: Self Contempt

We sometimes say Maybe… Do you find yourself saying Maybe to everything or too often? In the past, I would answer many friends questions with a maybe… sounds familiar? Instead of a clear answer of YES or NO. This indecisiveness, this need to take a decision… Why do I have to take a decision… How about Y.O.U. A.L.L. just Leave me alone!?…

Where does this desire to be left alone stem from? This sense of separation, to keep away from others, to believe that I am a sort of person that needs to be on my own… One can create the belief form that one is (more) special, and that others aren’t, they are low lives, therefore I have my own justified answer why I can even be proud of my anti social ways… so where does it stem from?

…SHAME! Did you know that? I didn’t. It never even occurred to me to consider it’s effects!

From where does that Shame stem from? That is the question… Impressive how much a <<Maybe>> can tell about >> YOU…

## The experience of finding your way back…

My buddy and I got lost on the Trochetia trail while hiking in the beautiful Gorges National park of Mauritius. What was supposed to take us only 30mins to reach the Gorges viewpoint, a short walk literally from the right of the Parakeet trail to the left towards the Gorges viewpoint, ended up in a several hours tough bush walk, with crouching through a wild boar tunnel, climbing big rocks, squeezing through branches, sometimes close like bushwhacking while figuring our way back. Our plan was to hike till the peak of Piton de la Petite Riviere Noire and from there continue on till the parking area in the Gorges. From there we would then walk back up the Parakeet trail and reach the car.

This experience, was an intense one, with many lessons to take home, and ways of looking at how one-selves copes in team under stress and fear. Everything changes when you don’t have a laid out track ahead of you, and you find yourself in unknown risky terrain with cliffs.

On this day, I had for the first time installed the Wikiloc app on my phone to record our hike, so this whole hike, including the part where we got lost is recorded. Before you come to conclusions wondering how could we still loose our path even though we had a GPS on the phone, we only figured out a while later when we started to get stuck that our predicament has been sealed… We also got lost, because at first we thought, we were still on track… see how you can fool yourself with over confidence. We also thought that it’s logically going to be easy to connect with where we were aiming for, because we kind of logically knew, if we were on the correct path, it should have been easy…

## How to make your WordPress blog GDPR compliant with a plugin

It took me several days to make my self hosted blog, which runs on the CMS based on WordPress, GDPR compliant. I’m sure, that I’m not the only one, who had to go through this and I’ve decided to write this article to help you and save you some time! And maybe headaches 🙂

As far to my understanding and please do comment in case I missed out on something, to make your WordPress based blog GDPR compliant, you need to offer users the option to opt in to use any form of tracking, or not. You cannot simply offer them a popup that says that this site uses cookies, and then press OK to continue. This would mean that you didn’t give the user any choice at all to opt out from any form of tracking. You will see that a A LOT of websites do that, and this is not the correct form to do it. Neither is it correct to request the user to deactivate cookies in their browser if they don’t want to be tracked. Your blog shouldn’t place any tracking cookies on their computer in the first place, only after they consented!

Neither is it sufficient to just have a privacy policy where you advise users that if they don’t like tracking cookies that they just have to delete them manually on their own. By the way, you also need to have a privacy policy. We will also get to that a bit later.

## How to import your bank statement from MCB into GnuCash

GnuCash is a great open source program that you can download for free to do double entry bookkeeping with on your PC or Laptop. It’s fairly easy to use and I also like how easy it is to create various accounts and sub accounts for various categories of your assets, incomes and expenditures. Some basic accounting knowledge will be a plus. Else you can easily get into it by following some tutorials. The GnuCash community is also very helpful, they are accessible via an online forum.

In this article I will write about how you can import your bank statements from MCB (Mauritius Commercial Bank) into GnuCash. This tutorial is meant more for those that already use GnuCash. It is not an introduction into how to use GnuCash from scratch. There are some good resources out there for that on the GnuCash Wiki and forum to begin with. Am also writing this article because in the past I never considered the option of doing a bank statement import and used to do it manually. The copy and paste method, which is quite time consuming!

## Fixing cracks on the terrace and servicing the metal roof in Mauritius

Now that we are done with the roof, we are moving to the next project which is to fix cracks on the terrace and then service the metal roof to protect it from rust as well as clean it.

The terrace that we will work on, is a part of the whole terrace at the back of the apartment, we will not be working on the whole surface of the whole terrace. Part of the terrace was covered with an additional layer of concrete. However when this job was done, no metal was used nor any membranes which would have probably led to less cracks. I didn’t know that back then, else I could have made suggestions to the mason. Also, new concrete is difficult to make it stick on old concrete directly which I also didn’t know. At any house or family in Mauritius, it would always be good to have someone in the family or a contact for a second advise/opinion and also to pay close attention to what is being done. You or someone must always watch and at least in regular intervals.
If you don’t really know how things at least a little bit should be done, you will in many cases get work delivered that might have a lot of faults. Also, never take the first suggestion provided, always look for a few different solutions to get a problem fixed, especially when the first suggestion always is: Bizin Kass BETON! I constantly hear that from persons I have worked with, and what it means in Kreol is, we must break some concrete to solve the problem – in many cases there have been solutions that didn’t involve the need to break off any concrete. Just my 2c for some hard learned lessons! Please share with me your experiences too in the comments section.

## DIY Waterproofing and Solar Reflector paint works on roof in Mauritius

In this project I will waterproof a roof and apply a sun reflector product as the finishing layer. The whole purpose of this project is to lengthen the lifetime of this concrete roof as it’s already 30 years old and also to reduce the temperatures of the apartment and studio who are right below that roof. In summer especially, it gets extremely hot underneath because of direct sunlight exposure over the whole day requiring my guests who rent these usually for their holidays to use the air conditioner. Especially in the later afternoon the rooms turn hot like a furnace! As of now I cannot foresee how much degrees less warmer it will be in the accommodations, I will know this only after completion of works. According to a friend, he is getting -3°C (That is day temperature less 3 degrees Celsius), even on very hot days, his room is cooler from the solar reflector paint that he used. (He used a product from the brand ABE that is Made in South Africa available in Mauritius.)

I will be listing the products that I am using, but not in detail the tools that we used as most of these you should have handy if you have had or done some works previously on your house. There are no reviews online as of now (May 2019) for products of Mauvilac, Permoglaze and ABE for such a project. Location is Mauritius. Mauvilac and Permoglaze are locally made. ABE is imported from South Africa by a company located in Petite Riviere. I decided to opt for Permoglaze products as my finishing products and I’ll tell you why I decided to use them.

## IUGO Apartment & Studio Renovation & Makeover Project

IUGO is a term I coined some years ago which I have decided to use for the 2 units that I renovated and redesigned over these last 2 years. The main work has been done on the first floor where those 2 units are located, there is an apartment composed of 1 bedroom, 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom and a big terrace. Then there is the studio which is composed of all in one, 1 bedroom, kitchenette and bathroom with access to a balcony. I was procrastinating the makeover project for various reasons and years, on one side I knew it was going to be a lot of work and then I hadn’t yet met the right persons with whom I could do the artworks, so for several years (it wasn’t a priority as well) it remained a project in the back of the head. You know how it goes with lots of ideas and projects… only some will see the light and not all of them. …Until someday while I was swimming in the lagoon a guy from the neighbourhood approached me and told me he is an artist and he can do various kinds of art work jobs. I asked him for his credentials, checked his Facebook page of previous artworks that he had done and it all looked very promising – exactly what I was looking for!

Little did I and him know then that we would end up collaborating soon going to be 2 years! The main makeover project took a year to complete, it’s a never ending thing where I keep adding new things from time to time. From doing art works on the wall, wood sculpting, paint works, spray works on drums we have already reached like +10 projects. In this way project IUGO is quite unique as it didn’t only involve repainting the walls but giving it all an artistic touch. You will see below from the photos. Since I keep making changes from time to time, I might have to re-update the photos in the future. It keeps getting better! At least you’ll get an idea what we have been up to!

## Selling Authentic Mauritius

It was once or still isn’t a requirement for Mauritius to be authentic in the sense of what people relate to when this term is mentioned which also requires a definition! The island was who it was or still is who it is… with a changed landscape and personality, I wasn’t around yet in the sixties or seventies but I was there to experience Mauritius in the eighties. And as of today, in 2016, Mauritius definitely has changed a lot in comparison to the eighties, but what makes it authentic? It can’t be unauthentic or a copy anyway – all countries more or less head somewhere and cannot keep the status quo…
However I would have never paid much attention to authenticity until I was in Rodrigues and also noticed that some resorts like Zilwa Attitude (in Mauritius) are including in their premises a series of activities/presentations which reflect how certain things are/were done in Mauritius – that is showcasing a few authentic characteristics of the island to the visitor, though when we live our daily lives with its busy-ness on the island, you get into a routine and the years go by until someone from abroad knocks on your door and asks you numerous questions about the island and why they came to visit Mauritius…

You could also ponder upon the reflective question if what was once being showcased at Domaine Les Pailles would be THE Authentic Mauritius or just merely falls under a presentation of a few facets of our history just like any other country. And it doesn’t make sense to stop development, all Mauritians have the right to endeavour for a better life which brings along change and development.

## A simple way to reduce your cars maintenance costs and other engines

By the moment you might be reading this we will most likely be breaking the barrier of 500 000 registered vehicles on the roads of Mauritius. There seems to be a steady growth of around 2% per year in Mauritius. With a population of around 1.3 Million, chances are that you are owner of a car/s or 2×4, 4×4, van, bus, truck, bike or other type of vehicles.

Privately driven cars will have less tear and wear compared to heavy duty usage of pickups, vans, trucks, buses and other machinery such as excavators, tractors etc, that run on diesel and are built to perform heavy workloads. If your engines run on heavy duty usage or if you drive a lot (including private car owners), your costs of maintenance & fuel consumption will increase with the usage. The bigger the vehicle, the more expensive their spare parts, likewise also the more luxurious the brands the more expensive it gets.

Apart from fuel, wear and tear and maintenance can be a surprisingly heavy cost factor and extending the life of your spare parts and making your engine & gearbox run more efficiently should be your primary concern if you want to have peace of mind and control on your costs. There are basic and efficient ways to reduce or avoid heavy maintenance costs. While the casual driver doing just up to 10 000 Km a year starting off with a brand new or second hand car on low mileage might not be much concerned about what goes on inside his engine, therein lies the most important aspect of cost control and what goes inside the engine is crucial. It is very much in your interest to know if your engine is operating in an optimal environment that is lubricated at its best to reduce the tear & wear and prolong its lifetime to the longest extent possible.

How do I reduce the maintenance costs of vehicles?
Indeed improving the lubrication within your engine and gearbox will increase its lifetime and also make it more efficient bringing into play various other cost savings and improved performance. While using the standard recommended engine oil and gearbox oil for your type of vehicle or equipment will definitely offer it lubrication but in order to reach the best lubrication of your engine and gearbox you need to go a step further. In order to increase the lifetime and efficiency of your engine, you should apply an engine treatment and gearbox treatment product to your oil.

## Blockchain Mauritius

Mr Gérard Sanspeur mentioned on Radio Plus on the 07.09.2016 the importance for Mauritius to consider the implications of the blockchain technology. He is currently the Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Finance & Economic Development of Mauritius. Since crypto currencies and the blockchain is a technology I have some passionate interest in, I decided to look up the local media to see if his speech was documented or reported as recorded on defimedia, unfortunately there is nothing to be found. So I can only vaguely recall what was mentioned on the radio and it was a short extract. It was mentioned that Mauritius should consider the important implications of this technology and the country Estonia was also mentioned which is currently a leader in the world of having various public departments running on blockchain. Mauritius being an island with a population of only 1.3 million could leap frog into the future of efficiency by adopting such a technology. Leap frog means that the blockchain is a HORIZONTAL integration vehicle with huge potential. Just like electricity and the internet.

What is the blockchain?
The release of one of the very first blockchains dates back to the year of 2008/9 by a pseudonym or group of persons calling themselves Satoshi Nakamoto. Who he is or who they are is not known. You can Google this pseudonym and you will find lots of articles. Anyway, the technology now exists and is here to stay and change the world. Since then many improvements have been made by various collaborators and it is open source. I’m talking here of Bitcoins blockchain. There are as of today other blockchains as well and you can even start your own blockchain! You cannot look at blockchain by ignoring Bitcoin which started it all and has reached a market capitalization of +9 billion US$. It is mentioned in the Bitcoin whitepaper. Continue Reading ## What it was like to sell my (old) car in Mauritius Recently I sold my car. It turned 17 years of metal age. I endured it for 8 years ending with +250 000 Km in its belly which included every year visits to fitness in Port-Louis (very annoying – hope things have improved with the privatisation of these centres, also see my article about → bringing my car to fitness) and there were times were numerous dissapointing repairs were necessary. It was my first car, bought as a second hand vehicle of a German brand. The kind of brand which is supposed to be solid and where spare parts are totally overpriced which I figured out a bit to late. I was a total amateur not having any idea at all of what I was getting into. Of course this article is going to be how I sold it, but the experience I made on a whole is worth a share to. Yet, describing how to buy the right car is also a whole book of its own. In a nutshell the lessons I learnt is don’t buy an old car that has very high mileage, check your budget and what the spare parts cost of the brand you will get, also try to get some history of the car, are you buying the car to get from A to B or also because you are a fan of a particular model? If you want to get from A to B the choice is broad… If you are a fan of a particular type, then you already know what you want. When I bought my car I believed in the myth of the brands image that if it’s that particular brand, it ought to be solid and I’ll get to drive it without worries. If you are getting a second hand vehicle, might be wise to get a mechanic to come along to do your test drive! I decided to sell my car for various reasons, when you have an old car, it’s only a matter of time that it will break down, always something will break down, it’s tear and wear – normal. But I wasn’t any more in the mood and a fan of that model as I was before to keep repairing it. And you might have some surprises that will just leave you with a bitter after taste. Such as once I was driving, and the cars engine went off because the fuel hose pipe at the back had a leak. What an unpleasant experience to have that strong smell of fuel and while I just had enough momentum to still park the car on the side of the road, I was freaking out with the sight of the continuous fuel dripping. What comes to your mind? Fire right? Anxiety: What if it catches fire? That moment was my tipping point. Even though when the mechanic had fixed it, there were times were there was still the fuel smell and it brought back the memories of that moment and I felt very insecure in my very own car. Considering also that I was fed up with fitness in Port-Louis as well. It was the moment to let it go! Continue Reading ## Where does the money go when I buy 1 litre of fuel in Mauritius? Recently I came across a communique of the State Trading Coporation in L’express the 04.02.2016 which published the break down of what you are paying for when you buy 1 litre of Gasoil and Diesel. Those figures below will only be valid until the Petroleum Pricing Committee (PPC) and the State Trading Coporation agree to new prices (monthly basis according to here: Petroleum Pricing Systems (PPS)). I’m presenting the figures below out of interest to get an idea how the state invests the money collected on fuel. State Trading Corporation 03.02.2016  Description Mogas (Gasoline) Gas Oil (Diesel) Reference Price – US$ per metric ton 412.0900 Reference Price – US$per barrel 41.7600 CIF – US$ / litre 0.3480 0.3129 Exchange rate – Rs/US\$ 36.6500 36.6500 Rupees per litre CIF 12.7542 11.4678 Excise Duty 10.8000 3.3000 Maurice Ile Durable levy 0.3000 0.3000 Contribution to Road Development Authority 1.8500 1.7500 Contribution to Rodrigues transportation and storage 0.4100 0.4100 Contribution to Build Mauritius Fund 4.0000 4.0000 Contribution to the construction of storage facilities for petroleum products 0.1000 0.1000 Contribution to subsidy on LPG, Flour and Rice 2.7000 2.7000 STCs operational expenses 0.3500 0.4000 Fund from Price Stabilisation Account -3.1156 -2.2136 TRANSFER PRICE TO OIL COMPANIES 30.1486 22.2142 Oil Companies’ operational expenses and wholesale margin 1.8200 1.6600 VAT (15%) 5.0674 3.8478 WHOLESALE PRICE 37.0360 27.7220 Retail margin (Filling station’s margin) 1.8140 1.7780 RETAIL PRICE (Price at Filling Station) 38.8500 29.5000

Check here for their retail prices which will be more up to date.

According to their website in the section of Procurement / Distribution

An estimated annual requirement of petroleum products for 2012/2013 is as follows:

PRODUCT

QUANTITY (MT)

White Oil

130,000

Gas Oil 50 PPM S

225,000

Gas Oil 2500 PPM S

130,000

Jet Aviation Fuel

250,000

Fuel Oil
Fuel Oil 180 CST Catalytic-Cracked product

240,000

Fuel 180 CST Straight-Run product

85,000

Fuel Oil 380 CST Straight-Run Product

135,000

A rough estimate… when selling all stock (These figures will definitely not be precise as the prices constantly change!)
So Gasoline would amount to: 130 000 x 1000 = 130 million litres x Rs.38.85 = Rs.5 billion
Diesel: 225 000 + 130 000 = 355 000 x 1000 = 355 million litres x 29.50 = Rs.10 billion

Then you have jet fuel oil and other oils for which I do not know the prices.

You can break down the prices to get an idea how much different segments are getting.

I was wondering if VAT is to be applied separately on the retail margins by the Filling Stations which of course cannot be the case as there is VAT already on it. I came across this interesting ruling on the MRA website:

“VATR 20

Facts
M Ltd is a private company incorporated in Mauritius and engaged in the marketing of petroleum goods (i.e. Mogas, Gas oil, fuel oil, Jet A1 & lubricants)in the country. The company has 13 retail outlets which are basically run on two models:
1. Dealers-operated retail outlets, where land is owned by the dealer.
2. Company owned Company operated (COCO) retail outlets, where a contractor is appointed by the company to manage the station.

In the first model, the retail margins on Mogas and Gas oil are fully enjoyed by the dealers as the land on which retail outlet has been developed is contributed by him. In the second model (COCO), the retail margins on Mogas and Gas oil are shared between M Ltd and the contractor on an agreed formula, in accordance with the terms of the contract.

Points in issue
Whether it can be confirmed that
1. No Vat charge should apply on ‘retail margin sharing’ as the retail margin has already suffered VAT;
2. M Ltd is correct in charging VAT on ‘equipment fee’ and that the depiction thereof on the invoice is correct;
3. Arithmetical calculations of both VAT elements (in specimen invoices) as shown in Annexure E are correct.

Rulings
1. It is confirmed that since the retail margin has already suffered VAT no charge to VAT should apply on the ‘retail margin sharing’ as sharing of retail margin between the lessor and the lessee does not amount to a supply of services.
2. It is confirmed that M Ltd is correct in charging VAT on ‘equipment fee.’ However, the VAT element on the invoice should be shown in such a way that it clearly indicates that it is in respect of both oil and equipment fee.
3. As the VAT is chargeable on the value including the retail margin of liquefied petroleum gas we suggest that the invoice be amended to show : –
The value inclusive of the retail margin but exclusive of VAT ;
The amount of VAT charged and the rate applied.”

Ref: VAT Rulings

## Walk & Hiking Spots in Mauritius

Find below my videos of walks and hikes I have done in Mauritius. You are welcome to share other nice tracks you have done in the comments section below.

Mauritius Pont Naturel, South, Cliff, Lava Formation, Big Waves, Sightseeing spots
Beautiful sightseeing spot in the south of Mauritius called Pont Naturel. We walked from La Cambuse till Pont Naturel and back. You get to see nice varied sceneries from a lot of green, sea, some beautiful beaches, then cliffs, sugar cane fields and the lava formation that makes up a natural bridge on which you can also walk across.

Secret spots of Mauritius – Piton du Milieu (Pat Loisirs)
Hiking with Pat Loisirs at Piton du Milieu Mauritius