There has been renewed interest in biofuels, particularly liquid biofuels, in Africa and the rest of the world over the last 5 years or so, mainly as a response to the significant rise and volatility of oil prices. So far, a number of countries in Africa, the majority of whom are net oil importers, have taken various steps to develop biofuels so as to ensure stable, secure and environmentally friendly energy supplies. In parallel to these developments on liquid biofuels, experiences in other developing country regions also shows that other biofuels technologies like gasification and biogas are increasingly becoming reliable, cost effective and ready for the market. As such, biofuels are fast becoming one of the most dynamic and rapidly changing sectors of the African and global energy economy.
Africa's energy needs are enormous and largely go unmet. Given the continent’s conducive climates, vast land resources and availability of labour, there is no doubt that biofuels have the potential to provide the much-needed energy for industrialisation and poverty reduction efforts. Other potential benefits of developing biofuels in Africa include; reducing the cost of importing oil, increasing access to modern energy services, revitalizing rural economies and creating jobs. However, there are growing concerns that the biofuels development could bring about several associated challenges including, water pollution, deforestation, the spread on genetically modified organisms and food security problems. Therefore, there is a critical need for to maximize the benefits and simultaneously minimize potential risks and trade-offs in developing biofuels in Africa.
Against this background, the African Union Commission, the Government of Brazil and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are jointly organizing this First High-Level Seminar on Biofuels in Africa. The seminar is being organised within the overall framework of the 2004-2007 Strategic Plan of the African Union Commission that envisages, among others, the elaboration of a policy and strategies on new and renewable energy. The 8th Assembly of the African Union Commission meeting in Addis Ababa in January 2007, endorsing the measures adopted by the African Ministers in charge of Hydrocarbons (oil and gas) at their 1st Conference held in Cairo on 14 December 2006, requested the African Union Commission to elaborate policies and strategies for the development of clean, new and renewable energies, particularly biofuels, as an alternative solution to hydrocarbons, in response to the rise in oil prices which has adverse effects on the economies of African countries.
Therefore, the planned seminar will seek to ensure that policy makers, private sector, regional institutions and other key stakeholders in the biofuels industry are in a position to take effective and informed decisions in developing biofuels policies, strategies, programs and projects in Africa. More specifically, the seminar has the following key objectives:
brief policy makers, the private sector, regional institutions and other key stakeholders on the potential and risks and trade-offs of developing biofuels in Africa;
facilitate sharing of experiences in developing biofuels among countries in Africa and between Africa and Brazil and other countries and regions;
explore the potential and challenges to the dissemination of priority biofuels technologies; and
consult key stakeholders in developing a program of action for sustainable biofuels development.
Within the context of this Seminar, an exhibition on african and international experiences in the Biofuels sector will be presented.
Please find here the Exhibition Manual.