The Africa Biogas Initiative

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In May 2007 at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya an initiative was launched to begin an African biogas development program with the goal of installing two million biogas plants throughout Africa by 2020. The initiative was made official only after careful consideration of the technical and cost-benefit potentials for biogas in Africa. Sudies found that the technical potential is especially high in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Lesotho, Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso and most East African countries except Somalia and Djibouti. A cost-benefit analysis of an integrated domestic biogas, latrine and hygiene program done by Winrock International shows that there is a potential 7.5% financial rate of return and a potential 178% economic rate of return. The difference between the two is significant because the start-up of an integrated biogas and latrine program requires hefty financial capital investment and expenditure, while the economic benefit to the African society would be great, in terms of “improved health, increased availability of potent organic fertilisers, time savings through the reduced drudgery associated with fuel collection, and environmental benefits.” These benefits would especially impact African women and children, because they “disproportionately endure the drudgery of fuel collection and the negative health effects associated with spending hours breathing highly polluted air just to prepare food for their families.”

At the conference Mr. Cheikh Modibo Diarra of Mali and Ms Hauwa Ibrahim of Nigeria were named the Biogas Ambassadors for Africa. The initiative sees the implementation as a business partnership between governments, private sectors, civil society agents and international development partners. The $2 billion investment required will depend greatly on public funding from donors and the sale of carbon credits.

The specific goals of the Biogas Initiative are these:

* two million biogas plants installed (90% operation rate)
* 10 million Africans benefiting in daily life from the plants
* 800 private biogas companies and 200 biogas appliance manufacturing workshops involved or established
* 100,000 new jobs created
* comprehensive quality standards and quality control systems developed and in use
* one million toilets constructed and attached to the biogas plant
* 80% of the bio-slurry used as organic fertilizer
* agricultural production raised by up to 25%
* health and living conditions of women and children improved, and the deaths of women and children reduced by 5000 each year
* drudgery reduced by saving 2-3 hours per household each day in fetching wood, cooking and cleaning the pots
* health costs saved of up to US$80-125 per family, per year
* 3-4 million tonnes of wood saved per year
* greenhouse gas emissions annually reduced by 10 Mtonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Rwanda has already begun a national biogas program and 11 other countries including Ethiopia, Senegal, Uganda, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana have taken the first steps to starting their own. The next Biogas Initiative conference will be held in West Africa in 2008.

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To read the full article from Renewable Energy Access and get more sources for info on biogas, click the REW link below. Also, check out Africa Biogas’ official website, linked below.
[Renewable Energy World; Biogas Africa]

8 thoughts on “The Africa Biogas Initiative

  1. I must just say that I am very impressed with the goals of the African Biogas Initiative and I hope to see it go from strength to strength, I myself am currently involved in biogas technology, studying the methanogens responsible for methane generation in bio-reactors at UKZN, South Africa for my masters in microbiology. On the website I found that the next conference would be held in 2008, but what of 2009 and 2010 and how could one gain access to the conference and papers presented at the congress.

    Kind Regards
    Graham Ellis

  2. Hi,
    Congratulations to a great site!
    My name is Bjorn Marten and I’m writing as a representative for the NGO GEIST in Sweden, an organization that has been pioneering the use of biogas as a vehicle fuel in Sweden and the use of grass for biogas production. Sweden is now the leading country in the world when considering use of biogas as a vehicle fuel. We have more than 100 fuel filling station for biogas at the moment and the number is rising tremendously fast. Ethanol land grabbing is violating human rights and destroying biodiversity faster than ever before. Biogas technology can change that for the better
    Here come some important issues that need to be considered.

    - 1. Organic farming is an axiom for sustainable development. The normal land area for organic farming is between 0.5 and 5 hectares. Predators and locally produced bio pests, like water from soaked Moringa tree leaves are used instead of chemical pesticides. A rich biodiversity with different plants, trees and bushes, are cornerstones for creating a home stead for the predators. Bio manure from compost or biogas plants are used instead of chemical fertilizer. No GMO crops are used since it’s not the genetic potential of the seed that is the limiting factor for getting higher crop yields, it’s soil fertility. In a fertile soil you will find up to 25 tons of microorganisms within a depth of 25 cm from the soil surface. Plant health is totally dependent of a good working environment for those collaborators underneath your feet. If they are not there they need intensive care with injections of chemical pesticides and fertilizer, just like human beings are treated when their stomach bacteria’s have stopped working, and they are hospitalized, getting an injection needle in their arm, supporting them with an chemical nutritious liquid. Conventional farming started after the World War 1 when ammonium nitrate aimed for bomb construction, was tuned into agriculture business and promoted as chemical fertilizer. At the same time chemical weapons where tuned into chemical pesticides, killing not only the species they were aimed for but also our none talking partners underneath our feet. In conventional farming the soil is dead. No way, giant monocultures can become sustainable. A nation that destroys its soil destroys itself. Brazil is using more pesticides than any other country in the world. Thousands of farmers are poisoned very year and many of them die. Subsoil water is contaminated with pesticide residues, and lakes and shallow bays are over nourished by leaking nutrients from chemical fertilizer supply, casing declining fish populations and dead bottoms.

    - 2. Many people employed for cutting sugar canes still die in the fields from over strain when cutting 30 machete beats every minute and working 8 hours a day in the unhealthy smell of Round Up .

    - 3 A cornerstone for sustainable development is food sovereignty. The local farmer should decide what to grow, since he knows how to maintain the biodiversity, necessary for maintenance of soil fertility, and not multinational companies.
    -
    - 4 Ethanol land grabbing forces farmers to use slash and burn farming in the rain forest , even if the sugar cane plantations are 2000 km away. Satellite pictures have shown more than 160.000 burning spots in the Amazon at the same time. The problem is the same in Africa.

    - 5. Biogas has the potential to become a substitute not only for gasoline but also for diesel. Biogas can be produced from any crop, any crop residue, any organic waste, manure or sludge. When used as vehicle fuel the biogas is upgraded to 98% bio methane. Another way to produce bio methane is by thermal gasification of wood. Compared to bio ethanol the bio methane output is three times higher, when using the same amount of wood. Studies made by members of our organization show that the energy output in a WTW system involving production of biogas from grass gives a 5 times higher energy out then input, more than twice as high as ethanol from sugarcanes and without allocation the best way to compare alternatives when considering strategic planning .

    - 6 Ethanol is a good material for making polyethylene plastics but a disastrous vehicle fuel. Fuel consumption is going up with 40%. Practical experiences show that a 10% blend lowers the distance you run on one liter fuel with more than 10%. A town that switches from gasoline to ethanol will increase the number of people dying in cancer due to increased emissions of aldehydes. Bio ethanol will never have the potential to become a substitute for gasoline. The global biomass potential is of interest for not only energy perspective but also for bio chemicals like biologically degradable plastics. The global production of plastics is 300 million tones. Small plastic particles is found everywhere in our oceans, and in the tissues of almost all sea living species, causing a tremendous threat upon marine life, the main source of our oxygen demand.

    - 7. Proper use of global biomass potential needs to involve water security, food security, food sovereignty, need for bio chemicals and need for bio fuels. Biogas for gasoline vehicles, a blend of 10% organic farmed biodiesel for heavy trucks, liquid bio methane for trains, ships and air craft, organic farmed bio ethanol for polyethylene production will meet those demands.

    8. Animal production is responsible for almost 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions, when including loss of carbon dioxide sink linked to land clearing and carbon credit from substitution of gasoline with biogas, produced from grass that otherwise should be used for cattle raising.
    Biogas technology offers farmers that produce animal products an alternative that is economically and ecologically sustainable. By eating fish, beans and sprouts the animal production can be reduced with far more than 80% without violation of global protein supply.
    A fishbone pipe network with thousands of digesters can supply metropolitan areas with vehicle fuel.

    My organization Geist is planning to arrange a biogas conference in Nairobi this autumn with focus on introduction of biogas as a vehicle fuel and for cooking and formation of national biogas boards.
    We also want to implement a rescuing plan for Lake Chad. If you are interested it would be a pleasure to collaborate concerning an y of those projects. I will be in Nairobi from April 10 to 14 and if any of your members are able to be there it would be a pleasure to meet them and discuss how to succeed with building up an infrastructure for biogas in Africa.

    Yours Sincerely
    Bjorn Marten, Chairman, Geist Sweden

  3. I really appreciate the Africa bio gas initiative because it changes people lives to a better step with renewable energy with minimum cost and i want to be a member of this organization.

  4. Hi, I am a Kenyan citizen in charge of logistics in Bomachoge constituency, Gucha District in Nyanza Province. I’m writing in regards to a bio gas project for schools the CDF committee wishes to start in the constituency. We realized that fairly a big number of schools are lacking electricity and due to its rising cost, the commitee decided to embrace the use of bio-gas in schools. We are seeking donors to partner with us in kick starting atleast 5 bio-gas projects in 5 schools in the constituency so that we can help our students and pupils get power and lighting for their studies. Kindly, assist us help our schools in promoting and aiding the initiative. Please give us your response on this. Yours sincerely.
    Joel Oyaro.
    Logistics – Bomachoge CDFC
    (constituency Development Fund Committee)

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