A consortium led by African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) is working on how to use advanced thermal technology to generate power from agricultural waste as a way of addressing the challenges associated with electricity generation in Sub- Sharan Africa (SSA).

The consortium which shall be drawing expertise and knowledge from AATF University of Leicester  and firms like PyroGenesys,  Mobinet, Babban Gona Farmer Services, ICMEA-UK and Koolmill Systems has already perfected use of agriculture waste such as cassava peel to generate electricity.

Sub-Saharan Africa is currently battling huge energy deficit. In Africa, there are currently 634 million people without electricity. It is estimated that in Nigeria, only one in five people has access to power from the electricity grid. This leaves four in five people living in urban and rural communities having to fend for themselves with makeshift and localised power solutions, a situation that the newly formed consortium can leverage on to expand the country’s energy mix profile.

There is, however, a door of opportunity for countries in the region that are currently facing acute power challenge. In Nigeria where the state-supported power generating facilities is producing less than 4000mw electricity for the 200 million people, there is an opportunity as the largest cassava producer in the world to bridge up the gap.  The consortium is developing low-cost, environmentally friendly technology to transform the way off-grid communities in Nigeria receive electricity through its innovative PyroPower technology.

Speaking on the partnership, George Marechera the Managing Director of Agridrive, said that AATF is participating in the initiative to ensure increased income for farmers that are growing cassava and contribute to energy source for smallholders.

‘There has been a lot of attention on production and use of clean energy and this initiative offers opportunity for AATF to contribute to that realization through its social enterprise Agridrive.

Nearly two-thirds of the world population that does not have access to electricity lives in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). These communities can use solar power, but it is expensive for them and many people cannot afford a solar home kit.

The project, that involves use of cassava peels,  is already being implemented in Osun, Oyo, Ogun, Edo and Delta states of Nigeria with plans for expansion into other states and countries in Africa.

‘This is a great innovation as it reduces post-harvest losses in cassava and generates additional income for cassava farmers who will now sale cassava waste and get income,” said Mr Marechera, adding that the consortium was initiated to utilise agriculture waste for clean energy and  feasibility study on the use of crop wastes (cassava) to generate energy on one of the activities carried out from June 2019 to June 2020 and it showed that cassava peels have the highest energy potential if used .

“This feasibility study was based on the cassava mechanisation and agroprocessing work that AATF is currently implementing in Nigeria.”Marechera said once commercialised, the initiative will benefit over 1.5 million cassava farmers through increase of  income from sell of cassava peels.

‘’This work will also benefit more than 4 million households who will access clean and affordable energy,” he added.

According to him, AATF supports transformative agriculture development for wealth creation for smallholder farmers in SSA, adding that AATF supports cassava productivity and especially management of post-harvest losses.

PyroGenesys’ Chief Executive Officer, Simon Ighofose, said: “PyroPower turns agricultural waste materials into renewable heat and electricity using an advanced thermal technology called pyrolysis, meaning no more fossil fuels.’

“Waste agro-residues are converted into biochar smokeless fuel briquettes for cooking, replacing firewood and wood-derived charcoal use, a cause of severe deforestation and human health issues,” Said Simon, adding that the consortium will test the case for installing the first PyroPower pilot plant in Nigeria, using satellite geo-spatial data analysis to identify suitable locations for future PyroPower installations.

“We’ve set an initial target of installing 100 commercial systems to generate clean, low-cost electricity over the next two years. We’re also looking at selling electricity using Mobinet’s SIMPAY mobile payment system in Nigeria for cashless transactions.”

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