Clean, Affordable, and Secure Energy for Africa

Energy is essential in our everyday lives: cooking, boiling water, lighting and heating are all processes that rely on it. However, current global peaking energy prices have increased levels of energy poverty and energy insecurity. Many are wondering how to go through the winter without heating, facing the “heat or eat” dilemma, which illustrates the trade-offs of low-income households forced to decide between food and energy*. It is estimated that in sub-Saharan Africa, approximately two thirds of the population have no access to clean energy for cooking. In South Africa alone, 47% of the households are facing energy poverty, spending as much as 27% of their income on energy**. According to the World Bank Group, in Botswana, up to 75% of  the rural population has no access to clean energy for cooking and in Namibia up to 64% of the rural population has no access to electricity.

Through an EU-Africa industry-research partnership, the SteamBioAfrica project aims to tackle energy poverty and insecurity in Southern Africa. Focusing on Botswana, Namibia and South Africa, the project will use an innovative technology of superheated steam processing systems on woody biomass from invasive and encroaching bush species to create a clean and affordable solid biofuel. Thereby, the project aims to address not only energy issues, but also challenges of land degradation, water shortages and unemployment.

In the project, the CSCP focuses on the development of sustainable value chains for the long-term commercialisation of the solid biofuel. The aim is to enable the integration of environmental and social innovation along the value chains and increase access of vulnerable groups to clean and affordable energy.  An overview of the CSCP tasks includes the following:

  • Support the development of sustainable value chains, which includes mapping relevant stakeholders and identifying risks and opportunities for the commercialisation of the solid biofuel.
  • Identify technical and business-related gaps and needs in local skills and workforce, and design and deliver training and capacity-building programmes.
  • Carry out policy analysis and facilitate policy dialogues between local stakeholders and policy-makers.
  • Foster the development of inclusive and sustainable business models, particularly targeting youth and women-led micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
  • Develop a financial toolbox to enable the participation of local stakeholders and MSMEs throughout the value chains of the solid biofuel.

The development of sustainable value chains enables the integration of the sustainability factor in the different cycles and components of the value chain. In the context of the SteamBioAfrica project, sustainable value chains will increase and facilitate the participation of local farmers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in the distribution of the economic benefits of the commercialisation of the biofuel. They will also play a positive role in the development of tailor-based solutions to increase the access of vulnerable groups to clean energy sources, for example through targeted affordability policies.

The SteamBioAfrica project is an EU-Africa industry-research partnership and it is part of the Research and Innovation Programme EU Horizon 2020.


*Hernández, Diana. (2016). Understanding ‘energy insecurity’ and why it matters to health.
**Department of Energy. (2013). A survey of energy-related behaviour and perceptions in South Africa. The Residential Sector.