Open access peer-reviewed chapter - ONLINE FIRST

# Biowastes as a Potential Energy Source in Africa

By Deodatus Kazawadi, Justin Ntalikwa and Godlisten Kombe

Submitted: June 8th 2021Reviewed: August 19th 2021Published: September 12th 2021

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.99992

## Abstract

High population and industrialization have brought the need for a reliable and sustainable source of energy and protection of the environment. Although Africa has a low energy consumption capacity (3.4% of the global share in 2019), its high population growth rate and industrialization predict high energy demand in the future. Reliable and available energy resources are required to protect the environment and create energy dependency. Despite Africa’s low energy consumption capacity (3.4% of global consumption in 2019), its rapid population growth rate and industrialization indicate future significant energy demand. The current high production of biowastes with high energy content and their low utilization provides an opportunity for energy dependency, crop value addition, creation of jobs, and protection of the environment. The chapter has identified that the African population of 1.203 billion in 2017 consumed 928 Mtoe of energy and this demand is expected to increase in years to come. The energy mix has been identified to depend on fossil fuels with little consideration of biowastes. The biowaste is reported to contain 20.1 TWh in 2025. Biowaste is currently underutilized, and there are few conversion methods available. Government and non-government investments have been reported to be making efforts to improve bioenergy and biowaste usage. The prevailing challenges have been low proven technologies, poor energy policy, low population knowledge, and poor investments. Biowastes use can be increased when environmental laws and legislation are tightened, energy policy strengthened and enforced, cheap and appropriate technologies are introduced, and the population Education is provided. It is expected that when biowastes are well utilized, energy will be available even in disadvantaged (remote) areas at an affordable price for the developing continent of Africa.

### Keywords

• municipal solid wastes
• crop and forest residues
• biowaste
• renewable energy

## 1. Introduction

Energy has been a critical issue in most African countries where most of their populations are deprived of it. With the current population growth, the situation is alarming and needs serious intervention to rescue. It is predicted that one-in-two people added to the global population between 2019 and 2040 will be African. In 2025, Africa’s population is predicted to exceed that of both India and China [1]. This increase in the population, combined with an increase in purchasing power, will put additional strain on the existing energy supply, resulting in a significant increase in energy demand. With the current trend of industrialization and population growth, the energy demand is expected to rise and put high pressure on the current fossil fuel resources. In 2018, Africa’s energy demand was estimated at 700 TWh of which 70% was consumed by south and northern countries. This energy consumption is forecasted to reach 1600-2300 TWh by 2040 [1]. Such a huge increase in energy demand requires African countries to be prepared for a sustainable solution. The globe’s energy resources have mainly been dominated by fossil fuels, which cover around 81% of the total energy supply in 2018 [2]. High dependency on fossil fuels not only brings uncertainty but also leads to global warming and environmental pollution. Therefore, the appropriate use of fossil fuels and the introduction of renewable energy technologies are required for sustainable energy and the environment.

The use of some renewables may be associated with high cost and occurrence, but bioenergy sources are expected to be the most promising option for meeting future energy demands [3]. Its conversion cost is expected to be lowered due to the availability of biomass, low cost, and high energy demand. Due to the global goal to departing from fossil fuels, the incorporation of bioenergy in energy generation has gained attention, mostly in developed countries. Although Africa is blessed with biomass, its use in electricity generation is still low, but expectations in the future are high [1]. The biomass potential is expected to continue to increase due to available cultivatable and fertile land, unutilized wastes, and cheap and simple conversion methods. Also, the utilization of biomass will continue to grow due to initiatives of African countries to intensify energy security. The African Union has the 2063 agenda that aims to have modern, efficient, reliable, and cost-effective renewable energy for all households, businesses, industries, and institutions [4]. This agenda has gained support with investments, among them being the African Development bank since 2016 [4]. High investment of USD $43-55 billion per year compared to USD$ 8-9.2 billion that is currently invested, will continue to stimulate incorporation of renewable energy, among them being biomass. To achieve this goal, understanding the type, quality, quantity, and distribution is necessary.

## 9. Conclusion

Africa is a continent that is undergoing rapid population and economic growth that require sustainable energy sources. Currently, energy production and consumption being below the global average of 2 toe per capital. The energy demand is expected to be 1600-2300 TWh by 2040 compared to 700 TWh in 2018. Increase in population from 1.2 billion in 2017 to 2.07 billion by 2040 and rapid industrialization will increase the energy demand and waste production, leading to the challenge of attaining economic and environment sustainability. Currently, energy comes from biomass at 42% and electricity is mostly from fossil fuels, leading to deforestation and pollution. The introduction of renewables in energy mix has been at low rate due to poor investment, knowledge, policy, location, and technology. Biomass is seen as the appropriate renewable energy due to abundance, affordable conversion technology, and widely distributed. To reduce deforestation and pollution, use of biowaste is appropriate solution. Although biowastes are not widely used, their use is a potential source of energy. The MSW, animal, crop, and forest residues are currently abundant in Africa and their use is a good solution for sustainable energy and environment. It is predicted that these wastes can have 20.1 TWh in 2025. Although biowastes are sources of energy, poor management, technology, and investments have hindered their use. This has led to unplanned dumping and site combustion leading to loss of energy and pollution. The introduction of appropriate technologies such as pyrolysis, gasification, and anaerobic digestion has the potential to produce solid and liquid fuels while increasing value of agriculture. Effective utilization of biowastes with other biomass will lead to energy dependency, for example by 2050; liquid biofuel can be enough for transport needs in countries such as Uganda, Nigeria, and Ghana. It is therefore important for government to formulate policy for biowastes utilization while investing on both private and public utilization plants. Education on the handling of biowastes should also be given to local population. This gives the hope that future energy and environmental sustainability in Africa can be contributed by effective utilization of biowastes.

## Acknowledgments

It is our pleasure to give our appreciation to The University of Dodoma through Deodatus Kazawadi PhD funding. This has been a great enforcer in preparing this book chapter.

## Conflict of interest

This book chapter has used data from reliable organization and data used are open data. This chapter has not been submitted or published to any publisher.

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© 2021 The Author(s). Licensee IntechOpen. This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Deodatus Kazawadi, Justin Ntalikwa and Godlisten Kombe (September 12th 2021). Biowastes as a Potential Energy Source in Africa [Online First], IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.99992. Available from: