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Biogas initiative for Africa to bring renewable energy to 20 million households

A large-scale biogas initiative has been launched to bring renewable energy to 20 million households in some 25 African countries. The initiative was approved at a conference entitled ‘Biogas for Better Life: An African Initiative’, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 20 to 22 May 2007.
The initiative is being supported by a consortium consisting of African countries (including Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa), implementing agencies, local NGOs and donors (including Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and the Shell Foundation).

Dutch partners in the initiative are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and development organisations SNV and Hivos. The Dutch partners are currently coordinating the initiative with a small group of African experts. The first national biogas programme – in Rwanda –has already begun. Similar programmes in Ethiopia and Uganda will begin later this year. These national programmes aim to construct the initiative’s first 50,000 biogas plants.

Biogas programmes are already operational in various parts of the world. SNV has worked on several successful programmes in Asia, especially in Nepal and Vietnam.

A simple biogas plant can be operated by any family with at least two cows or four pigs. The family toilet can also often be connected to it. Such a plant will generate enough gas to power a stove and a lamp.

A biogas plant costs from 300 to 400 euros (although in Africa it will initially cost more). But the expense can be recouped within a few years through savings on firewood. And the waste product can still be used as manure. What is more, biogas – unlike firewood – is a clean cooking fuel. Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has shown that 1.6 million people die every year owing to fuel fumes and poor indoor ventilation. Biogas programmes also create employment, especially in rural areas. The Netherlands is committed to improving access to renewable energy in developing countries and has undertaken to extend such access to 10 million people by 2015. Biogas is fully compatible with this commitment.


Additional information:
News date: 22/05/2007

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