Biogas Programme Makes its Mark in Africa

October 4, 2013

The Africa Biogas Partnership Programme (ABPP), a partnership between Hivos and SNV Netherlands Development Organisation spanning six countries, has facilitated the construction of 30,900 biogas digesters since 2010, creating employment while improving the livelihoods of thousands of families in many ways.

Over 154,500 people in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Senegal have benefitted directly from the programme. Both men and women are targeted as participants in biogas digester construction (both as masons and biogas construction enterprise owners), in promoting the programme and in biogas user training.

Biodigesters use animal waste and water to create methane gas, a green energy source which is used for smokeless heating, lighting and cooking and which also eliminates the use of firewood as fuel . The by-product of the biodigesters, known as bio-slurry, is an organic fertilizer that boosts food production, reducing hunger and malnutrition as well as providing income streams for households.

Bio-slurry is also used as an agricultural insect and pest repellent, and some bio digester owners are now selling bio-slurry, making it a direct source of income.

Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Senegal have also seen significant institutional and organisational developments in various sectors. From credit providers to biogas digester construction companies (now standing at close to 300 companies and 1,500 masons), the programme’s net of benefits has spread far and wide.

Local fabrication of biodigesters has improved, and private sector actors are gradually entering the market. Some do this independently while others have partnered with national programmes. The base for private sector was already set by the fact that households contribute over 75% of the biodigester construction cost.

To ensure the sustainability of ABPP, national programmes conduct research and development to reduce the cost and maintenance of biodigesters and ensure new market segments are reached.  For example, solid state digesters (SSDs) have been successfully tested in areas where water is scarce, which will eventually enable programmes to enter arid and semi-arid areas.

The programme aims at constructing 70,000 biogas plants by the end of 2013 in order to provide about half a million people access to a sustainable source of energy.

Using the number of households that have access to water and the number of domestic cattle per household as indicators, the technical potential for biogas in Africa is about 18.5 million installations. Based on its initial positive results, ABPP envisages up-scaling the programme to 10 countries starting in its second phase post-2013.