[Lamu, Kenya] Today marks a major milestone for us here at the Indian Ocean Observatory (IOO).

We are delighted to roll out our Special Series flagship the IOO Lighthouse .

This development has emerged courtesy of an independent study conducted across the 13-nations we cover. Through the IOO Lighthouse which will be published every fortnight we are enhancing our coverage and bolstering our analytical approach to issues relevant to the western Indian Ocean.

The IOO Lighthouse will not only shed light on pertinent concerns of the western Indian Ocean axis but will seek to find solutions and where there are none ignite a debate that will generate alternatives and inspire goodwill. We have gone back in time to adopt and celebrate the role that the lighthouse played in seafaring. Assistance of mariners in marking perilous coastlines, risky reefs and as a routing aid is what the lighthouse did and it is what informs our objectives. That very role of the “Lighthouse” is what we intend to be as far as key issues in our region are concerned.

In our first edition we are discussing coal, which is in abundance in the region. We have decided to focus on the energy sector as it drives the economies of the region. The intricacies of the coal industry, the place of coal in the environmental protection debate, human rights issues, newer and cleaner technologies involved in coal mining and illicit financial flows are all addressed.

Our focus has included the coal-belt countries from Madagascar, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya which are known for their coal deposits. The involvement of international coal majors and Far Eastern and European interests in the sector has also been covered.

We tell you about the “unpolished jewel of Africa” and the “Eldorado of mining. We further reveal to you the country which lost $450mn in coal revenues due to a tax ‘oversight’ and shine our light of the country with coal deposits expected to last 50 years and another with $40bn worth of coal deposits.

The coal rush by Brazilian, UK, Japanese, Indian and Chinese firms in the Western Indian Ocean nations is highlighted in the same light that shines on the amounts involved not to mention the development of transport corridors and infrastructure to exploit this sector.

The IOO Lighthouse has shone on the coal issues in this first edition. In subsequent editions key energy components will be showcased with the same rigour and we intend to remain committed and steadfast to the very ideals of a lighthouse.