Small-scale production and use of liquid biofuels in Sub-Saharan Africa: perspectives for sustainable development

Apr 2007

This background paper focuses on the impact of biofuels for small-scale development and use by households, farmers, communities, etc. Its emphasis is on the sustainable development of biofuels to increase modern energy access to these stakeholders and thereby improve their lives and livelihoods. It focuses on the initial experiences and the further development potentials and needs in sub-Saharan Africa.
In recent years several developing countries have gained positive experiences with the decentralized and small-scale production and use of fuel crops. As has been shown by a number of projects and organizations, the production and use of liquid biofuels from local feedstock can make a positive contribution to improving access to sustainable and affordable energy.
Cultivation and harvesting of fuel crops can enhance agricultural productivity and local economic development directly as well as indirectly through crop by-products. In addition, some liquid biofuels emit much less pollutants than conventional fuels and could significantly reduce negative impacts on public health. Biofuels production and use can also bring about positive gender effects since it is often women and children at the village and household levels who carry the load of agricultural production and fuel collection.
Study objectives are threefold:
• Discuss technical, socio-economic, and environmental benefits of small-scale biofuels in terms of improving energy access by the poor, lessening reliance of countries on oil imports, creating additional sources and means for income generation, promoting rural development, and mitigating environmental pollution at both local and global levels.
• Identify major technical, informational, and financial barriers to the scale-up of small-scale biofuel production and use.
• Propose a series of policy options and measures for scaling up small scale biofuels production and use in sub-Saharan Africa.

By: Energy and Transport Branch - Division for Sustainable Development - UNDESA

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