Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Why rising interest rates matter

Rising interest rates are more than an academic interest.  Earlier I discussed the impact that rising mortgage rates have on house values.  That was a micro discussion.  In this essay I want to discuss the issue from a more macro approach.

Chicago, Illinois
Chicago, Illinois was recently selected as Time Out's best city in the world based on its City Life Index.  The City Life Index scores places on categories such as food, drink, culture, friendliness, affordability, safety and happiness.

While it may look like I am picking on Chicago I am not.  I am simply using them as one example of how governmental units are sustaining their "lifestyle" with their credit cards.  All is joy and happiness until all the cards are maxed out and you cannot get another.

Let's look under the hood and see how they do that.

Some of it is due to issuing debt.  There are two kinds of debt, really.  One kind of debt is tied to durable assets.  The other kind of debt is to cover budget shortfalls and to finance short-lived gains.  In the for-what-it-is-worth category, Chicago was projected to have a $137 million shortfall in 2017 and they were very proud that it was that small.

Approximately 25% of Chicago's budget goes to "service" debt.  If they are like many municipalities, they don't pay-down their debt.  They roll them over by issuing new debt.  A rise in interest rates results in accelerating debt payments as bonds mature and are rolled over at the new, higher rates.

Pension assets
While higher interest rates are advantageous for pension funds in the long term they are devastating to asset values in the short term.  Interest rates and the asset value of the underlying bond move in opposite directions.

But wait, the Feds and the State of Illinios will  come to the rescue...
They already have.
16% of the Chicago budget is Federal and State grant money.

That does not include money from the State of Illinois from the Fuel Tax which is apportioned based on population rather than miles of road or miles driven.  Chicago gets 22% of Illinois Fuel Tax that is collected while it only has 1.3% of the miles of road.  They must have really fantastic roads in Chicago, I am guessing.

The Feds might have issues as well
On the face of it, the Fed should not have too much trouble benchpressing a 50% increase in interest rates...from 2.3% to 3.5%.  That would take the Net Interest to about 10% of the budget.  Again, this would happen over time.

Mandatory vs Discretionary spending.  Mandatory is ocher colored (red) while Discretionary is aqua (blue-green)
Discretionary spending is approximately 25% of the Federal budget.  A 1.2% percent rise in interest rates will result in a 12% reduction in Discretionary funding.

And it is not as if the deficit is shrinking.

Much of what makes Chicago a cool and fun city is fueled by debt.  Debt decouples spending from underlying economics and creates an illusion of boundless possibilities.  The difference between a household and a city is that residents and businesses can flee the city.  They can also flee the state if the city has enough political power to force the state to subsidize the city.

This is likely to be the fate of many cities.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

What effect will the tariff on non-US made solar panels have?

Cost of solar power per Watt DC.  Source
According to the graphic in PV Magazine the cost of solar power has been dropping at a rate of 6% a year since 2013, even though the cost of the solar modules has remained flat.

The cost of solar modules was approximately 15% of the cost of a residential photovoltaic installation, 20% of a Commercial installation and 35% of a Utility Scale installation using Q2 2017 prices.

The recent 30% tariff levied against foreign made photovoltaic cells can be expected to raise the cost of all systems by less than fifteen cents per Watt from the historic, low-water mark.

The tariff covers both solar modules and solar cells and is for 30% the first year, 25% the second year, 20% the third year and 15% the fourth year.  Contrary to what has been reported, the tariff applies to all foreign made solar cells and modules, not just Chinese made units.

Rent and profit
The most stable portion of solar power costs have been rent and profit.

The rent and profit portion of the Commercial installations hoovered around sixty-five cents a Watt from 2011-through-2016.  The rent and profit portion of Utility scaled installations floated in the thirty-five cents-to-forty-five cents per Watt range.

Labor and Engineering costs
The cost that has shown the most decline has been Labor and Engineering.

This is due to the maturing of solar installations.  Like most things, the first few installations are the most painful as contractors climb the learning curve.  A rule-of-thumb in Project Management is to budget 25% for "field orders".  That rule-of-thumb applies to the first-of.  Subsequent builds are much more efficient, in both cost and time from start-to-finish.

This increased efficiency is diluted, somewhat, by new operators entering the solar field.   

Likely to be challenged
The tariff is likely to be challenged in court because "The statute requires that any action taken must facilitate a positive adjustment to import competition and provide greater economic and social benefits than costs." and the Section 201 action is subject to a 120 day review. (emphasis mine)

The fact that solar modules are only 30% of the cost of a Commercial installation means that 70%  goes to other sectors of the economy:
  • Land owners in the form of rent
  • Investors in the form of return on investment
  • Construction workers as wages
  • Heavy equipment firms leasing out earth-moving equipment
  • Fabricators making racking
  • Electrical equipment manufacturers
  • Truckers moving all this stuff around
Using Executive action to arbitrarily raise the cost of solar cells to protect one, very small segment of the production chain will end up gouging all of the other links in the chain as the work dries up or they have to take a financial haircut to stay competitive.

The single, remaining US solar cell manufacture makes high end, monocrystalline silicon wafers.  The Section 201 tariff also applies to slightly less efficient (and significantly less expensive to manufacture) polycrystalline silicon solar cells and to significantly less efficient (and MUCH less expensive) amorphous silicon solar cells.

The net result is that solar installations will end up paying monocrystalline prices, or higher, for the next four years because the US industry engaged in margin retreat and abandoned other, less profitable segments.

Even if the Section 201 challenges are unsuccessful, the net effect after extrapolating the declining cost of all the other components of a solar system is to increase the cost of an installed system to what it was 12 months earlier.  If solar made sense in Q4 2016 then it makes economic sense in Q1 2018.

Monday, January 29, 2018


Before.  This is a Box Elder that a windstorm tore apart.  Two large limbs are hanging from the trunk.
Widow-makers are dead trees or branches that have enough potential energy to brain the unwary and kill or maim.

After.  Half the wood here.
And half the wood here.
The wind really whistles through this gap.  My dilemma was that the windbreak would be thin and weedy if it was in partial shade.  I decided to front-load my pain.  Otherwise I would have an ineffective windbreak when my fruit trees are of bearing age.
Before. Shenandoah pear.  Orange step ladder is eight feet tall.  All of the branches above 10 feet are difficult to pick.  And, of course, the best fruit is always in the top of the tree where it gets the most sunlight.

There!  Much better.  The fruit load should drag the one branch that is sticking up back into pickable range.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Michigan State University is living through its "Jerry Sandusky" moment

Michigan State University is living through its "Jerry Sandusky" moment with the recent conviction of Doctor Larry Nassar.  Except it is more likely to be a decade of pain rather than a moment.

I refuse to dive into the swirling mess.  That is what the legal system is for.

But I want to comment on the idea of "advance tremors".

The book Crisis Management by Steven Fink .  Fink contends that almost all crisis telegraph their impending arrival.  Surely there can be nobody in academia or industry who believed that Jerry Sandusky was a one-off, never to be repeated.

Due Diligence
"Well, we have a policy.  We have procedures..."

I don't doubt it for a moment.  But do you have documentation?  More specifically, do you have documentation that training on your policies and procedures was delivered to every person in a leadership or mentoring role?  Do you have documentation that learning was delivered?

"What do you mean...'learning was delivered'?"

Do you test the students before the training and test them after the training.  The difference between the two scores is the incremental learning...the learning that was delivered.  The post-test is a measure of the test taker's fitness for a leadership position.

It is ironic that this was standard procedure in industry two decades ago.  It was driven by ISO and QS standards.  Academic know all of those universities founded on tests, GMAT, GRE, SAT, ACT and so on...don't see the merit of testing when it is applied to them.

It is my hope that some good comes out of MSU's Jerry Sandusky moment.  I hope ALL academic institutions exercise due diligence in the form annual training on policies and procedures.  I hope that they document that training with pre and post tests.  I pray that they use the post-tests as a gateway for continuance in leadership positions.

Only then will institutions have a firewall between them and the criminals who actively seek the "target rich" environment of universities.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Small Business Report: Harry's Place

Harry's Place (517-484-9661) started life when Billy Durant loaned Harry Andros $8500 dollars in 1922 ($125,000 in 2018 dollars) to build a cafe across the street from the Durant factory at 404 Verlinden Avenue on Lansing, Michigan's west side.

At that time, Verlinden street was the western-most reach of civilization and new houses were being built east of the factory.

Harry's Place is still a family business having passed from Harry-to-Art-to Art's daughter, Harea.  It is currently the longest family-owned restaurant business in the greater Lansing area.

Near-death experiences
What makes Harry's unique is that the business faced two near-death experiences in its history.

The first brush with insolvency was when the Durant factory closed in August, 1931; a victim of the Depression.

Things picked up when General Motors reopened the facility as a Fisher Body plant to supply bodies to Lansing's Oldsmobile division.  That happened in 1935.

Then, on May 5, 2005 General Motors closed the Lansing Body Plant.  That impacted me, personally, because I worked there at the time.

Reinventing the business
Harry's was a pretty typical "shop" bar until 2005.  The business came in surges.  The plant ran two production shifts.  Surges came every two hours at "break" and lunch time.  Then between shifts.  Then every two hours.

Nearly every customer was a regular.  They had their own "seat"  The management would set up shots and beers and a take-out bag.

A typical customer would come in, have a shot or two and a beer chaser.  He would grab his bag and step away from the bar and the next guy in line would step forward.  It was 1960 feet from the remotest corner of the Body Shop to Harry's front door.  It takes a while to get there.

The menu was simple.  Hamburgers and fries.  You could get your burger dressed up in various ways but it was still a basic 1/3 pound hamburger.  On Friday there was fried fish as well as hamburgers.

The bar was loud, and smoky and the language tended to "Shop Talk".  Patrons often substituted the word "fuck" for punctuation marks.

It was little frequented by the residents who lived nearby.  The loss of the factory across the street left Harry's without a customer base.

About The Neighborhood
The neighborhood is a patchwork quilt of smaller communities.


Modest/starter homes

All within 2000 feet of Harry's Place.

Significant events
One significant event was when a neighbor who lived half a block from Harry's walked into the place and ordered dinner.  Her name was Danielle.  She started chatting with Harea and noted, "This place is not so bad...but I think a lot more people would come if you started serving craft beers."  This is when the entire "craft brew" craze was starting.

After discussing it with her husband, Hugh, they spent some money they did not have and added two more taps.  At Danielle's advice they rotated through craft beers every couple of weeks.  Neighbors started coming in on a regular every couple of weeks...just to try the new craft  brews.  Since then they have added additional taps for craft brews.

The staff does not get bent out of shape if you rearrange the tables for a party as long ask first and the party fills the chairs.  Harry's has  a few booths but not very many.
Another significant event is when the State of Michigan offered incentives for employees to retire.  Harry's was very accommodating to retirement parties and it was 1.1 miles from the parking lot where most State employees parked.  While there were other bars closer to the State complex, they were more congested than Harry's 2500 square feet of dining room.  Those other bars tended to be "land-locked" with booths while most of Harry's seating consists of moveable chairs and tables.

Many of the people who first went to Harry's for a retirement party came back for lunch or brought the family for dinner.

Secondary factors
A secondary factor that helped Harry's was the State ban on smoking.  That made it easier to change the atmosphere of the "shop bar" to a "neighborhood restaurant".

The menu was upgraded.  Burgers are about 20% of the menu, now.  Ingredients are fresh.  Their Greek salad is as good, or better, any you will find elsewhere in Lansing.

Three pieces of advice (she gave me five)
I asked Harea what advice she would give a nephew or niece whose fledgling business was teetering through a near-death experience.

The biggest piece of advice was "Stop sucking cash out of your business."  Harea and Hugh went two years (mid-2005 through mid-2007) without pulling a penny from the business.  Their children worked in the restaurant without pay as well.  A subset of this is "Work with your suppliers".  Don't let your pride force you to buy more perishables than you can use.

Remain steadfast. The Great Recession hit just as they were getting their feet beneath them in 2007.  They did not breath a sigh of relief until 2010, five years after the factory closed.   At that point they were pretty sure they were going to survive.

Try new things but be quick to pull the plug when they don't pan out.  They tried live music and it simply was not a draw, at least for where they were in the process of reinventing themselves.  Booking the bands cost money and they saw no increase in business.  Music was just one of the things they tried that did not work out.

Respect the dignity of your employee when you lay them off  due to economic reasons. Let them know that it is not because of anything they did, that it is ruthless economics.  If I remember correctly, Harry's went from +20 employees down to two non-family employees.  Since the low-water mark,  many of Harry's employees have come back to work for them.

Listen to your customers and give honest consideration to every comment they make.  Danielle seemed like just another customer.   It turned out that Danielle is highly regarded in the Westside neighborhood and Danielle was delighted to spread the word about the "New" Harry's Place after they took her advice regarding craft brews.  They often took Danielle's advice on the craft brew to try next.  If it was something Danielle was interested in tasting then there were probably many other enthusiasts who were interested in tasting it as well.

A lagniappe is a little something extra that a merchant gives to customers.  This section is "a little something extra", over and above the standard small business report.

In the course of talking with Harea and Hugh, I learned that they own several adjacent properties in the neighborhood.  I suppose that they purchased them with an eye toward increasing the size of their parking lot but that never happened.  They have used them as subsidized housing for waitresses and customers who have been down on their luck.  Harea noted one waiter who never learned to drive.  Providing him with housing three doors from work made it very easy for him to have perfect attendance.  Other houses have been used when domestic issues caused waitresses to be homeless.

Harry's is part of the community.  They have a lending library outside their patio.

Hugh and Harea are extremely likeable people and I am very thankful that they were willing to talk with me about the challenges of their "near-death" experience.

Hey Grandpa, What's for Dinner?

We had a thaw and on a whim I decided to take a walk around the property and see if there were any edible foods available.  This was a cataloging trip, not a collecting trip.

Black Walnuts (Juglans nigra)

Pole Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

No joy on the corn (Zea mays).  Sometimes you can find an ear the birds missed.

But not today.

Volunteer kale (Brassica napus) at the edge of the corn patch

Close up of Kale

A few Blackberry (Rubus sp.) leaves for tea if we cannot find something better.

Crow Garlic? (Allium vineale) leaves.  Leaves are edible and there are small bulbs beneath the leaves.

Gold Rush Apple (Malus domestica)
Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) for a Vitamin C rich tea

Violets (Viola odorata) salad greens or thickener for soup...a bit like okra.  This is a European species.  The natives have the good sense to retreat to their roots.

Junior mint (Deerius poopicus) for fresh breath after dinner.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Gmail's "Undo Send" function

For those of you who use Gmail:

The toolbox button is in the upper, right corner.  It is highlighted with a blue line in this screen shot and the icon is of a six-toothed gear.  Click on the drop-down (the upside down triangle) and then "Settings"
Undo Send is under the "General" tab.
It can be set for 5, 10, 20 or 30 seconds or it can be not  enabled.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Economic Inelasticity of food

Elasticity curves run counter to mathematical convention.  We typically think of price as the independent variable (usually the horizontal axis) and supply as the dependent variable (usually the vertical axis).  Economists decided to make supply the horizontal axis and prices the vertical axis.

The concept of "Elasticity" can be applied to both Demand and Supply.  This essay will focus on the Demand side.

Elasticity of Demand is the idea that people will use less of something when the price rises and more of something if the price drops.

A product or service is considered inelastic if demand does not change, or changes very little, with changes in price.

Cowen and Tabarrok use food as an example of an inelastic in their textbook Modern Principles of Economics

This is confusing to some students because individual types of food are elastic.  Raise the price of burger and people start eating chicken...or steak.  Lower the price of burger and people will eat more of it. But food in total is NOT elastic.  Demand may sag a little bit as people waste less food but there is really no substitute for calories. 

Conversely, after we have eaten our quota there is very little demand for more.

Some kinds of agriculture are amenable to automation.  Row cropping is one example.  Consequently,  prices plummeted to the point where it is economical to burn grain as fuel to heat buildings.

Unfortunately, inelasticity of demand has a dark side.

North Korea
This article suggests that food shortages are contributing to the global instabilities that are bringing us closer to WWIII.

"Sometime in the spring, collective farms that are behind on their quotas will have some of their constituents provide frozen potatoes, which are processed by peeling and drying before presentation to the authorities.
That sound innocuous but let me paint a word picture:  Peasants will be swarming thawing potato fields potato fields and digging them up AGAIN to harvest the small potatoes that eluded harvest the first time around.  Having frozen, those small potatoes are very susceptible to rot.  They will be peeled, perhaps while still frozen and then dried.  Then they will be confiscated by the authorities so the army and the city people have something to eat.

Ukrainian peasants digging up frozen potatoes in 1933.

Holodomor survivors from the enlightened Soviet Socialist Republic.

Those circumstances are eerily similar to the Holodomor, the Soviet genocide of the Ukrainian peasants in the early 1930s.  The Soviet army went door-to-door and pillaged homes for wealth and stored food.  They even raked the potato fields and confiscated every potato larger than a golf ball.

If history is any guide, North Korea's rural population will be depopulated and future harvests are at risks.  But then maybe North Koreas expects some political event that will cause a commensurate depopulation of their cities and army.  Scary stuff.

It can't happen here...
Well, yes it can.  Federal and State governments take the risk very seriously.

There are countless fragilities within our agricultural production, purchasing, processing and distribution system.  And remember, food is inelastic.  The destruction of order does not require a 70% reduction in calories.  It requires that five percent of the population receive 10% less than they need.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

ERJ visited a Cathouse today

I was invited into a cathouse today.  There were between fifty and sixty cats in the structure.  The proprietor can't keep up with the count.

In other news, I had my annual physical.  After reviewing all the changes that Mrs ERJ is making in my life, the Old Curmudgeon raised one bushy eyebrow and pronounced..."Too soon for medicine.  Just keep doing everything Mrs ERJ tells you to do and we will recheck your lipid panel in three months."

Things keep breaking

I replaced this part about four years ago.

Can you see the break?
How about now?
That is why it is handy to have test tools.  You can find things that you cannot see.

The new part is ordered and should show up Wednesday or Thursday.

I seem to have failures when the kids run the dryer.  They run it on the High heat setting.  I don't know why they are in a hurry.  They invariably let it sit over night before attending to the dried clothing.

My belief is that the dryer runs the Low heat setting on 120V and the High setting on 240V.  Power is Amperage .times. Voltage.  Since Amperage is a function of voltage and resistance, the heat is V*V*R V*V/R (correction by sharp-eyed reader, Loren).  That is, doubling the voltage quadruples the heat.

No wonder it always craps out when the kids are running it.

Water Heaters
Mrs ERJ mentioned that the hot water heater seemed to be running at reduced capacity.  The water would go luke warm partway through her shower.

I checked out the water heater while I had the test tool out.  The lower heating element is burned out so I need to replace that as well.

Fortunately the parts are relatively inexpensive.  Heating elements for the dryer run between $20 and $40.  Heating elements for the water heater run between $10 and $20.

Monday, January 22, 2018

When Rory met Malia

Exclusive Eaton Rapids Joe footage of when Rory Farquharson and Malia met.

Darned nice of those Secret Service agents to help Rory down off his horse.

Urinary Tract Stones

Not me, the Boston Terrier.

Not My Dog
The Boston Terrier is a dog that was chosen by one of the two older children.  My child chose this dog because it was "cute".  That, and because they thought they would be given $600 every time somebody wanted to breed Boston Terriers.  No surprise to Mrs ERJ or me, the breeding fees never showed up.

When that child left home, their dog stayed.  This is a fact-of-life for parents.  Kids move on.  Dogs don't.

Diversity complicates management
Different sizes of dogs have different needs.  German Shepherds like being outside even when it is -10F.  German Shepherds like playing in the snow.  German Shepherds are happy when they can run for miles.

Boston Terriers are much smaller.  Our's weighs about 15 pounds vs. 75 pounds for the GSDs.  Boston Terriers have short, flat coats compared to the German Shepherd's deep, lofty fur.

Boston Terriers do not like cold.  They do not like snow.  They don't like drinking cold water on cold days.

Another difference between BIG dogs and little dogs is dietary.  Little dogs need more calories per pound especially in cold weather because they shiver more.  They are also vulnerable to excess calcium in their food.  Small urinary tract passages are easier to plug.  Higher rates of H2O transpiration and lower water intake in cold weather cause lower urine volume and result in more solids precipitating out of their urine.  Not good.

Dog food
We decided it was time to get a dog food that will be specifically for the Boston Terrier.  No more big-bag food for that little boy.
We purchased a bag of Hills Science Diet Small/Toy Breed Adult dog food.  The bag lists the calcium content as Min...0.65%.  The internet says 0.96%  That is a very large difference.
Mrs ERJ and I went to a pet store yesterday.  We were bedazzled by the array of special dog foods.  Aisle-after-aisle of foods.  We checked bags for calcium content. Many brands of dog food seem to think nutritional information is not important, they listed no quantitative info.  Unfortunately the bags that did list calcium content only listed the minimum content so the information is partial. 

The foods formulated for small or toy breeds have a higher fat content.  Higher calories means less food per day which means less calcium.

Water is the magic ingredient
One source on the internet suggests that feeding the food moist helps small dogs get more water into their systems.

In miniature Schnauzers, increasing dietary moisture content increased total moisture intake, and reduced urine specific gravity, urinary oxalate concentration, and calcium oxalate RSS (Stevenson et al. 2003b). In contrast, there was no effect on the urinary concentration of Labradors (Stevenson et al. 2003b), indicating they may regulate water balance more effectively. These data show that small breeds that tend to be at greater risk of calcium oxalate formation may benefit from increased dietary moisture in order to help maintain urinary tract health or manage calcium oxalate urolithasis.  -Source

The same source also suggested that adding common table salt, sodium chloride, to the dog's diet also stimulates water intake.  The plan is to moisten the Boston Terrier's food with chicken bouillon and kill two birds with one stone.

The other little tweak is to give the little pooch distilled water.  Our water is hard and the primary cation is Ca++.  I know that it does not add very much calcium in the overall scheme of things, but distilled water is cheap and we will go back to "regular" when the weather warms up.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

House values and the interest rate

The latest data from FRED shows the median sale price of an existing house is $250,000

The value of houses is very sensitive to interest rates.

Shoppers are typically working within a budget.  They can only afford what they can afford.  Eventually, sellers must price to the market.  This mechanism is completely independent of the effect rising interest rates has on hours worked.  In practice, the budgets most buyers are working with also shrink when interest rates rise.

If the market starts at 4.0% a 1.0% rise in the interest rate will reduce the selling price by 10% and start to push new home-owners underwater.  That assumes 10% down and 30 year fixed mortgages.

Rising interest rates also puncture the wealth-effect of rising equity in homes.  Few things make you feel poorer than seeing a $25,000 loss on paper.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Shithole countries

This is a section through a mulberry log.  Somehow it seemed like an appropriate, G-rated, picture to lead this essay.
Let's look at Senegal, West Africa.

Completely ignoring culture, what would it take to fix the "fecalized environment"?

Wastewater treatment
The state-of-the art is activated sludge bio-degradation of human wastes.  The wastewater, a slurry of water and "other stuff" is run into a settling pond.  The "other stuff" is quantified in terms of Biological Oxygen Demand or BOD.  BOD is the amount of oxygen that the slurry would suck out of the water if it were dumped into a river.  That loss of oxygen typically results in fish kills.
Oxidization Ditches where the effluvia recirculates is considered one of the more appropriate technologies for austere environments.  Each "ditch" should be wide enough for a Bobcat to enter and scrape out.  Multiple ditches allows the system to keep running even when part of it is being maintained.

Approximately half of the BOD is removed from the wastewater after 24 hours in a settling pond.  The liquid is then sent to ponds where air is forced into the water.  Some systems use bubblers, others use paddlewheels or vertical turbines.  Some use jets of water to entrain air bubbles, much like a Jacuzzi.

Finally, the water is treated with chlorine or UV light and released to the wild.

How much power does it take?
A significant portion of Senegal's electrical production is from hydroelectric sources.  Once exploited, it is rarely possible to "scale up" the production at a site.
According to the CIA Factbook, the average daily electrical power consumption of a Senegalese is 0.50 kW-hr.  This is a bit of a myth because a few, rich city people use far more than that and the vast majority of the rest of the people use far less.  Approximately 40% of the population live in rural areas and have almost no access to electricity.  But let's go with the average because it is what we have.
Senegal is not even that bad, relatively speaking.

The average African produces twice as much fecal material as the average North American due to the higher fiber content of their food.  Constipation is rarely a problem in Africa.  That equates to about 0.25 lbs of fecal dry matter per person per day.

According to the Army Corp of Engineers it takes between 0.20 kW-hrs and 0.55 kW-hrs to deliver the air necessary to digest one pound of BOD.  That means that simply injecting the air in the activated sludge digester would consume  0.05 kW-hrs per person per day.  (0.25 lbs/person X 0.5 left in the settling pond X 0.40 kW-hrs)

That is 10% of the electrical produced in Senegal for just one stage of the wastewater treatment.

One reason shithole countries are shithole countries is because they have almost no economy.  Technology is a wonderful thing but it stands on a foundation of infrastructure...including electrical production.  To provide a useful frame-of-reference, the average electrical consumption in the US is about 65 times as much, per person, as in Senegal.

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner