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Potential of Biofuel and Bioelectricity Generation from Residues of Tree Commodities in Africa

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Over the last decade, the African continent has witnessed an increasing trend in economic growth, population, and, thus, demand for clean energy(IRENA 2015). However, an estimated 600 million Africans lack access to electricity, and another 730 million people depend on traditional biomass energy for cooking and heating (IEA et al 2021). Statistics on access to electricity underscores that only North Africa can boast of high electricity access rates of 98%; sub-Saharan countries are lacking behind with 47% for West Africa, 23% for East Africa, 25% for Central Africa and 43% for Southern Africa. Biomass fuels such as crop residue, fuelwood, charcoal, and dung remain the primary source of energy for heating and cooking to about 81% of sub-Saharan households (IEA 2010). Unsustainable production of biomass energy encourages land degradation, deforestation and reduces the carbon sequestration potential of forest and agroforestry systems (Boyd 2008). Health issues such as acute respiratory infections, cataracts, lung problems, cardiovascular diseases, and bronchitis are illnesses that come with inefficient wood-fuel combustion (Piabuo and Puatwoe 2020). Liquid biofuel and bioelectricity from biomass transformation emit less carbon and are cleaner options to fossil fuels and fuelwood (IRENA 2020). Emission reductions from biofuels can go up to 80% compared to fossilfuel-powered engines (IRENA 2020). Increasing access to energy without endangering the environment and the health of users has been promoted as a sustainable development pathway.

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