Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 38, Issue 2–3, pp 253–269 | Cite as

Biofuel use assessments in Africa: Implications for greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation strategies

  • D. L. Kgathi
  • P. Zhou
Part III. Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventories And Mitigation Options: Methodological Issues


The energy balances of most African countries suggest that biofuels (woodfuel, crop and wood residues, and dung) constitute the largest share of total energy consumption (up to 97% in some sub-Saharan Africa countries). There is, however, an increasing scarcity of woodfuel (fuelwood and charcoal), the major biofuel, and a feared increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with biofuel combustion. The extent of GHG emissions is estimated from biofuel consumption levels that are in turn based on methodologies that might be inaccurate. A questionnaire, supplemented by informal interviews, are used to collect data, yielding information regarding end-uses, technologies used, scale of consumption, determinants of fuel consumption, and interfuel substitution (among other parameters). The survey revealed that cooking is the major end-use, with other common uses, such as space and water heating. Improved stoves that provide better combustion efficiency and, thus, reduce woodfuel consumption have not been widely disseminated and are associated with higher methane emissions than open fires. More than 90% of the households in Africa use open fires. Consumption is presented as per capita for households and as products and quantity of fuel in the small scale industries, commercial, and public sectors. Among the determinants for biofuel consumption are affordability, availability of the fuel, and interfuel substitutions. Flaws in estimating biofuel consumption yield large uncertainties in GHG emissions, with implications for the development of policies on energy planning and environmental protection. However, the application of scenarios can guide policy formulation.


Wood Residue Methane Emission Total Energy Consumption Combustion Efficiency Open Fire 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. L. Kgathi
    • 1
  • P. Zhou
    • 2
  1. 1.National Institute of Development Research and DocumentationUniversity of BotswanaGaboroneBotswana
  2. 2.Energy, Environment, Computer and Geophysical Applications ConsultantsGaboroneBotswana

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