Senegal is aiming to boost the availability of biofuels for SMEs active in sub-Saharan Africa’s agro-industry sector, following the launch of its BioStar project earlier this year.
The goal of the project is to expand energy access in rural areas by generating energy from residual biomass produced by agribusiness companies. The project involves financing in excess of $12.7 million (7.2 billion CFA francs) from the European Union and French Development Agency, and is being implemented in both Senegal and neighboring Burkina Faso.
“BioStar is a project geared towards research and development, capacity building and professional diploma-based training on priority issues, such as access to energy, innovation in agribusiness transformation, the profitability of SMEs, the circular economy, climate change and rural employment,” noted Younoussa Mballo, Technical Counselor at Senegal’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
“The project presents a unique opportunity for sharing experience between researchers in the Northern Hemisphere and those in the Southern to examine the contribution of bioenergy towards the development of enterprises… and to better understand the role that bioenergy can play in energy efficiency and as a catalyst for the development of SMEs in rural areas of Senegal,” he added.
The goal of the BioStar project is to support the development of bioenergy by putting in place the requisite infrastructure to enable this type of renewable energy to be successful and more widely adopted, as well as to contribute to job creation in Senegal and West Africa at-large.
“The objectives of the BioStar project, as well as the results expected, are in line with the engagement of stakeholders to help improve the access of SMEs to renewable bioenergy sources, further supported by the political establishment to support this as a matter of public policy,” said Mor Talla Seck, Director of the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA).
The five-year program is set to run from February 2020 to February 2025 and is being coordinated by the International Center for Agronomic Research and Development based in France. Overall, it consists of nine partners from West Africa: the Insitut 2iE and University Thomas Sankara from Burkina Faso; IRSA and the University Gaston Berger from Senegal; Ntidiae, a joint collaboration between Burkina Faso and France; the Catholic University of Louvain from Belgium; the University of Hohenheim from Germany; and Italy’s University Roma Tre. All of the partners will be engaged in the project for the entire duration of the initiative.
Senegal has long been one of the most advanced countries in West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa in the adoption of renewable energy, with several world-class projects including the Taiba N´Diaye wind farm. However, although solar and wind energy are currently two of the sub-sectors that comprise the bulk of renewable energy projects in the country, the Senegalese Government is eager to explore other sources of renewables, such as biofuels. Agriculture is one of the main economic sectors in Senegal, and by utilizing more biomass and agricultural waste products for renewable energy generation, the country aims to capitalize on a cheap and readily-available local input.
MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power 2021 will see the strong participation of official delegations from many sub-Saharan African countries, in particular those from the MSGBC sedimentary basin (Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry), as well as other oil- producing countries from West Africa and North Africa, alongside investment partners from Europe, the Middle East, North America and Asia.
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