Scalable Business Models for Alternative Biomass Cooking Fuels and Their Potential in Sub-Saharan Africa

    This report represents a view of the status of the development of the markets and business models for Alternative Biomass Fuels (biomass briquettes; ethanol; and pellets) across Africa.

     

    As households in Sub-Saharan Africa begin moving to cleaner and more efficient cooking devices, they will have both conventional alternatives (eg. LPG, electricity) and alternative biomass fuels to consider.  While the benefits and constraints of conventional clean cooking fuels are known, very little attention has been devoted to date to the challenges and opportunities presented by the clean biomass fuels (briquettes, ethanol, and pellets).  These alternative biomass fuels can all be used in stoves that are extremely efficient (Tier IV efficiency or better) and emit no dangerous particulates.  However, the challenges facing their widespread adoption and use are quite daunting.  The "business model" discussion focuses on the current status of these fuels in countries across Africa and tries to address the "chicken or egg" challenge facing the sector--that is, people need both the stoves and the fuels to take advantage of these cleaner alternatives.  How much the industries focus on producing and distributing the fuels and stoves may determine how quickly they can establish a solid foothold in the market that is significant enough to enable them to make a profit and thereby, become financially--and not just environmentally--sustainable.

     

    This report reviews the state of the sector, identifies the challenges and opportunities facing the sector, and suggests ways in which entrepreneurs, Governments, investors, and Development Partners can provide constructive support to this nascent sector.