Bank funds biomass projects in Africa

Nine African countries will benefit from a multi-million shilling World Bank project that seeks to promote commercialisation and efficient use of biomass-based energy for cooking, lighting and powering machines.

The bank will finance projects promoting the production and use of biomass fuel, such as energy saving charcoal stoves and clean biogas, said Mr Waqar Haider, a senior energy specialist at the institution.
The initiative, which has a budget of $3.5 million, will focus on 10 projects in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Benin, Gambia, South Africa and Mozambique.

Biomass fuels such as charcoal and firewood are the predominant energy source for Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for 81 per cent of the overall energy consumption.
“Despite its social, economic and environmental importance, investments in biomass energy makes up less than four per cent of energy access expansion projects,” said Johannes Zutt, the World Bank Country Director for Kenya.
Most traditional charcoal and firewood cooking equipment used in Africa are inefficient and emit high levels of pollution impacting negatively on health of the users and on the environment.
Mr Zutt said biomass fuel will continue to be a major source of energy in Sub-Saharan Africa for decades.
An objective of the programme is to identify projects that can be incorporated in future World Bank’s lending portfolio, Mr Heider said.

In Kenya, rural biodiesel projects implemented through Help Self Help Centre, a non-governmental organization in Nairobi that has grassroots in the Mount Kenya region will be up scaled. The project will encourage use of biodiesel for vehicles and generators and bio-kerosene for lighting and cooking. The fuel will be produced using oils extracted from locally available tree seeds by oil extraction machines and fuel pumps.
The goal of the project is for 3,000 households to adopt bio-fuels for their energy needs and will see the development of five seed collection centres.

Low emissions
“The money will be used to upscale production output from 300 to 800 litres per day. We will also be introducing cooking stoves and lamps while expanding the programme,” said Bernard Muchiri, director of Help Self Help Centre.
The money will also be used for awareness campaigns and tree planting. In Uganda, the project will finance production of 10,000 stoves produced by local tinsmiths and small business entrepreneurs through the Centre for Research in Energy and Conservation in the faculty of technology at Makerere University.
The World Bank said that the stoves have low emissions, high fuel efficiency and that it can use a variety of fuels. Mr Zutt said that the ten pilot projects were chosen from 100 proposals.

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