The ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the SNV Netherlands Development Organisations (SNV) Uganda have launched the Africa Biodigester Component (ABC) project, with the aim of boosting access to biodigesters for circular agriculture and renewable energy.
According to the press release, the four-year project will run until 2025 and is being funded by the Netherlands ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The €3.7 million (Shs 14.5 billion) project targets the installation of at least 8,000 small scale biodigesters across Uganda and providing energy access for at least 40,000 people.
SNV Uganda country director Phomolo Maphosa said the country's energy sector is still dominated by solid biomass, mainly in form of firewood and charcoal, which contributes 88.6 per cent of the country’s consumable energy.
‘Biodigesters offer increased benefits in the form of clean energy for cooking, and organic fertilisers for agricultural production, which will mitigate against the effects of deforestation and soil degradation,’ Maphosa said.
Joost van Ettro, head of cooperation at the embassy of the Netherlands in Kampala highlighted that at the current rate of deforestation, in 25 years, Uganda would have very few trees left and that only interventions such as the ABC project can retain the country's biodiversity.
The project aims at scaling biodigester technology towards agricultural value chains, both tangible in terms of increased agricultural production, and more intangible benefits such as reducing exposure to indoor air pollution, long term soil improvement, water retention capacity and carbon capture through adopting information and awareness raising, provision of business development support to biodigester companies and strengthening the biodigester business model for end users.
The project will also explore the commercialisation of bio-slurry as organic fertiliser, to increase farm output as well as creating new revenue streams for biodigester owners. In his remarks, Dr Brian Isabirye, representing the permanent secretary, ministry of Energy emphasized the importance of the innovation-led approach in addition to technology-transfer in bolstering the biodigester market.
The guest of honour, Peter Lokeris, state minister for Mineral Development appreciated SNV and the ABC consortium for supporting the government’s biomass strategy to promote modern technologies for cooking.
‘The project will also reinforce the government’s initiatives in achieving its National Development Plan (NDP) III targets to increasing access to clean cooking and reducing the demand for firewood and charcoal, while creating employment for Ugandans,’ he said.
The project is implemented as a joint effort by a consortium of SNV, German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and Biogas Solution Uganda Limited (BSUL) in co-development support of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). SNV, as lead implementer takes responsibility for overall project management and stakeholder coordination and in cooperation with BSUL, for the further strengthening of demand and supply of the sector.