Biogas technology in sub-Saharan Africa: status, prospects and constraints

Review Paper

Abstract

Africa is a continent with abundant, diverse and un-exploited renewable energy resources that are yet to be used for improving the livelihood of the vast majority of the population. The production of biogas via anaerobic digestion of large quantities of agricultural residues, municipal wastes and industrial waste(water) would benefit African society by providing a clean fuel in the form of biogas from renewable feedstocks and help end energy poverty. Biogas technology can serve as a means to overcome energy poverty, which poses a constant barrier to economic development in Africa. Anaerobic digestion of the large quantities of municipal, industrial and agricultural solid waste in developing countries present environmental conditions that make use of anaerobic biotechnology extremely favourable under perspective of sustainable development. However, the use of biogas is not widespread in Africa. There are many reasons of economic, technical and non-technical nature for the marginal use of biogas in Africa. The key issue for biogas technology in Africa is to understand why large scale-up has not occurred despite demonstration by several programmes of the viability and effectiveness of biogas plants. This article provides knowledge-based review of biogas technology status, constraints and prospects in Africa. In addition, recommendations to overcome the technological and non-technological challenges to commercialise biogas are discussed. Recommendations for large scale adoption for biogas technology include establishing national institutional framework, increasing research and development, education and training and providing loans and subsidies and major policy shift in the energy sector. The conclusion is that biogas technology must be encouraged, promoted, invested, researched, demonstrated and implemented in Africa.

Keywords

Biogas technology Anaerobic digestion Agricultural wastes Municipal wastes Developing countries 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Food Science, Nutrition and Family SciencesUniversity of ZimbabweHarareZimbabwe

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