Africa’s sugar industry said to hold massive energy potential

16th September 2008 By: Chanel de Bruyn - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

The contribution of cogeneration to the world's electricity mix was set to increase to 10% or 900 GW by 2010, up from 6,5% currently, but Africa was still lagging in exploiting the full energy potential associated with cogeneration, Energy for Sustainable Development MD Stephen Mutimba said on Tuesday.

Worldwide, there were more than 1 600 clean development mechanism (CDM) technology projects in various stages of development, while there were also more than 260 other cogeneration projects in various stages of development.

Despite Africa holding a "huge resource" of fuel types for cogeneration, it was not a large producer and was lagging behind other emerging economies such as India, China and Brazil.

But Mutimba, whose company is based in Kenya, asserted that cogeneration opportunities, especially those associated with agroprocessing and forestry industries in rural areas, should be tapped across Africa. Not only could these supply power for rural electrification programmes, but they could also provide job opportunities.

Africa, he asserted, had the potential to produce 10 000 GWh of electricity through cogeneration from sugarcane alone, and that a cogeneration plants could create between three and five jobs for each GWh.

However, speaking at the Cogeneration World Africa 2008 conference, which was under way in Johannesburg, Mutimba explained that inadequate government policies, incentives and regulatory frameworks remained the biggest challenge facing cogeneration project developers on the continent.