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First High-Level Biofuels Seminar in Africa

30 July-1 August 2007 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

IISD's Summary

Saturday, 4 August 2007
Brazilian Government
African Union
Web coverage:
Monday, 30 July - Tuesday, 31 July - Wednesday, 1 August

Highlights from Wednesday, 1 August 2007

On Wednesday, participants to the first High-level Biofuels Seminar in Africa continued discussions on the African context for biofuel development. They also heard presentations by representatives of the regional economic communities, the Africa Energy Commission, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and UNIDO, and reports from the parallel sessions on biofuel conversion technologies and cross-cutting issues held on Tuesday.

In the afternoon, African ministers and high-level representatives convened for a Ministerial Roundtable, which concluded with the adoption of the Addis Ababa Declaration on Sustainable Biofuels Development in Africa. The declaration calls for, inter alia , developing enabling policy and regulatory frameworks, participating in the global sustainability discussions, formulating guiding principles for biofuel development to enhance Africa's competitiveness, and minimizing risks for small-scale producers. It further calls upon development partners to assist countries in keeping abreast of advances in the biofuels sector, and public financing institutions to support biofuels projects, and proposes the establishment of a forum to promote access to information and knowledge on biofuels. Finally, African ministers commit themselves to implementing the identified priority actions on biofuels and request the African Union Commission (AUC) to present the declaration to the upcoming ministerial conferences on biofuel-relevant sectors.

The Brazilian experience in the African context (continued from 31 July)

Francis Yamba, COMPETE Project, Zambia (left), discussed prerequisites for biofuel development in Africa and noted the existence of biofuel markets, especially in Southern Africa. He explained that biofuel markets are influenced by, inter alia, blending requirements, suitability and availability of land and feedstocks, technological and research capacity, production costs, international crude oil prices, national fiscal policies, and environmental considerations.

Youssef Arfaoui, African Development Bank (AfDB) (center), presented the private sector's perspective on the development of renewable energy, noting that the Bank's focus areas include geothermal energy, small hydropower, cogeneration technologies and biofuels. Reporting on a recent bank study on wind energy potential in Africa, he suggested a similar study for biofuels. He also noted that in developing biofuels projects, investors need to consider legal frameworks, concession arrangements, feedstocks security and environmental aspects.

Stanislav Miertus, International Center for Science and High Technology (ICS)-UNIDO (right), reviewed first-and second-generation biofuel production technologies, advocating a focus on developing second-generation technologies that are still transitioning towards large-scale production.

Regional biofuels activities

Lami Keun, Director of Energy, Senegal (left), chaired the session

Mohamedain Seif-Elnasr, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) (center), presented on COMESA programmes relating to biofuels and other renewable energy sources. He noted large-scale ethanol programmes in Malawi and Swaziland, and electricity production from biogas in Kenya. Outlining COMESA's energy programme, he noted ongoing efforts to adopt a model energy framework for promoting biofuels and the development of guidelines for promoting investment in the renewable energy sector.

Nzola Mahungu, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) (right), presented on the NEPAD Pan-African Cassava Initiative (PACI), established in 2004 to promote food security and income generation. He noted that PACI invests in cassava feedstock production, and stressed the objective of making cassava cultivation sustainable and competitive for ethanol production.


Mamadou Dianka, West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), noted the subregion's dependence on oil imports and biomass, and highlighted UEMOA's common energy policy. He recommended, inter alia, developing national policies and strategies based on resource availability, and adopting a continental action plan focused on rural development and entrepreneurship.


Pradeep Monga, UNIDO, outlined a UNIDO initiative to establish an inter-regional bioenergy network, noting it could play a catalytic role at the global level in information sharing, linking technology, trade, investment and environmental issues, and promoting international cooperation. He also noted that the network will initially focus on Africa, particularly on sharing industrial conversion technologies and information, and on addressing economic and sustainability issues.

Stressing the need for an institutional framework to oversee biofuel development on the continent, Hussein Elhag, African Energy Commission (AFREC) (right), presented the concept of an African biofuels center. He said the center could be established as a subsidiary body of AFREC to achieve sustainable energy security for Africa through the establishment of an integrated biofuels industry. He added that the center's proposed vision is to create a pathway towards a “green” African alternative to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.



Rex Brown, D1 Oils, Swaziland, presented on his company's jatropha activities in Swaziland. He said that his company has signed an agreement with the Swaziland government and the NGO World Vision for providing alternative livelihoods to farmers through jatropha production. He elaborated on a number of activities, including developing superior jatropha varieties and training farming communities.

Srinivasaiah Dasappa, Indian Institute of Science, shared his institute's experience on using biomass as a source for generating electricity in India and noted its potential in the African context.
Reports on outcomes of parallel sessions and the way forward



Reporting on the session on ethanol technologies, Nogoye Thiam, ENDA (center), noted that the session recommended, inter alia: focusing on domestic energy demands over exports; meeting Africa's needs in energy availability and rural development; and developing cogeneration plants. Presenting the biogas and biomass gasification session's recommendations, Pradeep Monga, UNIDO (right), noted that participants identified the need for: an enabling policy environment; incentives for technology and knowledge transfer; training and capacity building; strengthened research and development; dedicated financial mechanisms; and information-sharing and dissemination of lessons learned and best practices.



Yogesh Vyas, AfDB (left), presented the environmental sustainability session's outcomes, noting consensus on the need for establishing a biofuel industry in Africa and developing policies and guidelines to ensure environmental sustainability and social equity. On biofuels certification, he emphasized learning from international certification schemes in the forestry and agricultural sectors, considering the implications of certification for small-scale farmers, and exercising African political leadership in international negotiations and regional harmonization. Rainer Janssen, WIP (right), reported on the biodiesel session's outcomes, and presented the recommendations for a plan of action, including: developing regional and national strategies and policies and appropriate financing tools to contribute to economic development and improved living conditions; assessing social and environmental impacts; and establishing centers of excellence to disseminate information on crops, production methods and conversion technologies.

Stephen Karekezi, Energy, Environment and Development Network for Africa, presented the draft draft ten-year action plan for biofuel development in Africa. He reported that the plan's priority sectors include ethanol, biomass gasification, biodiesel and cogeneration. He identified cross-cutting programme areas, including: policy and institutional frameworks, financing mechanisms, resource assessments, capacity building and the strengthening of technical expertise.
Aboubakari Baba-Moussa, Director, Infrastructure and Energy, AUC, and Session Chair Heinz Leuenberger, UNIDO
Ministerial Roundtable on Developing Biofuels
Ministerial Roundtable Chair Michael Nyambuya, Minister of Energy and Power Development, Zimbabwe (left), said the seminar helped identify the current status of biofuel development in Africa and offered a practical way forward for non oil-producing countries. Ato Alemayehu Tegenu, Minister of Energy and Mines, Ethiopia (right), noted that the global oil prices are no longer affordable for his country, urging a “fast-track” approach for biofuels development in Africa.

Angelina Jan Teny, State Minister of Energy, Sudan (left), said that only 30% of the country's population has access to electricity despite it being a major oil-producing country. She called on African countries to avoid the pitfalls of oil exports and become part of the “global biofuels equation.” Mahmoud Camara, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Environment, Water and Forests, Guinea (right), noted that the principal objective of biofuels development should be improving livelihoods of the rural poor. He stressed the need to ensure that Africa's rich resources are exploited for the benefit of its population, and to satisfy domestic demand for biofuels before moving to international markets.

Antonio José Ferreira Simões, Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (right), noted that the high-level seminar is important in the development of the biofuels industry in Africa and that Brazil can support its development.

Phillippe Niyongabo, AUC (left), presented the draft Addis Ababa Declaration on Sustainable Biofuels Development in Africa.


Summary and Closing Remarks

Bernard Zoba, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, thanked ministers, AU member states and other participants, noting that the seminar had helped to identify social, economic and environmental concerns regarding biofuel development in Africa, and to formulate guidance for an African vision for biofuel policies and strategies. He pledged the AU's support to sustainable biofuel development on the continent, in cooperation with international organizations and leading biofuel-producing countries, and declared the meeting closed at 5:11 pm .
Miscellaneous Photos

Biomass gasifier for electricity and process heat, that uses wood residue and emits zero greenhouse gases

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