The place of the energy revolution in African agriculture

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Africa is currently experiencing a period of economic growth and sustained transformation. Its population is growing rapidly and its economies are growing and diversifying. The energy revolution is on the continent.

The electrification of the continent is accompanied by an unprecedented development of renewable energies, especially for solar and wind energy. This revolution also affects African agriculture, even if it is less dependent on the carbonated economy than in the richest countries. Here are five examples that demonstrate that the energy transition is a real opportunity for African agriculture:

Valuing agricultural waste

Côte d’Ivoire is still highly dependent on fossil fuels. However, its oil production has been steadily declining for the last ten years. In order not to be a net importer of black gold, but also to achieve its objectives in terms of energy transition, the country seeks to diversify its supplies. In July 2018, the project of the world’s first power plant promoting cocoa waste was launched. Budget: 232 million euros, for a commissioning planned in 2023. The cocoa sector will be able to economically valorize its 26 million tons of waste, while allowing the production of energy, and the economy of 250 000 tons of CO ² per year. Another power plant, which is powered by Palm waste, will be put into service during 2019 in the Aboisso region, with a expected output of 66 MW.

Irrigate through the Sun

In an area where water and sunshine are available in abundance, combining the two became an obvious one. This is also the idea of the company sharp, who announced that it installed 120 polycrystalline solar panels in Malawi, in order to supply electricity an irrigation system. 600 farmers on the banks of the Shire River are concerned by this ambitious and essential project for the energy transition of African agriculture. The installation allows to run water pumps that irrigate 50 hectares of crops. Previously, farmers used pedal pumps, or simply outres. The success of this company will mainly allow to propose a sustainable and operational alternative to the pumping system with thermal motor, very widely used elsewhere, and which is both polluting and noisy.

Solar electricity for tomorrow’s agriculture

Aquaponia is the Alliance between aquaculture and hydroponics. It is a productive design that allows plants to feed on fish droppings, while the latter capture the nutrients emitted by the plants. No need for arable land, low CO ² releases: this solution is booming. Founder of save our agriculture, Cameroonian engineer Flavien Kouatcha has found a way to further improve the system. In order to exploit it intensively, he built an aquaponic farm capable of producing the equivalent of five tons of vegetables (a conventional half hectare) and two tons of fish. The installation is entirely autonomous from an energy point of view, since it is powered by solar panels. The energy transition is now integrated into the software of aquaponie, a model to be followed by a more environmentally friendly agriculture.

The real biofuel

Most biofuels have at least one drawback: the crops from which they are distilled are mobilising arable land. In Africa, a continent unfortunately still affected by malnutrition, such a project is unthinkable. Unless the fruit used to produce biofuel was previously unused. This is precisely the case of the Croton nut, a shrub typical of East Africa where it grows in large quantities in a wild way. Eco fuels Kenya has created a sector that allows to give work to 10,000 farmers from a very cheap raw material. The start-up produces 16,000 litres of Croton oil per week. Once distilled, it will be used as a biofuel. The press residues are transformed into food for livestock, fertilizer or, in the last few, fuel.

When the water hyacinth becomes biogas

In Benin, the water hyacinth had become a source of trouble for the fishermen of Lake Nokoué. This invasive plant prevented the boats from manoeuvring properly and blocked the access to the shoreline. It was discovered today that the water hyacinth also had virtues, particularly in the area of decontamination. It can also be used to produce biogas. From the Green hell, the plant became gold. The company green keeper Africa, which transforms the water hyacinth, employed a dozen pickers in 2014; they are now 1 200, of which 85% are women.

Moctar FICOU/VivAvrik

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