A sustainable approach to boosting liquid biofuels production from second generation biomass resources in West Africa
¹Mount Royal University, Calgary, Faculty of Science & Technology, Department of Environmental Science, 4825 Mount Royal Gate SW, Calgary T3K 0C3, Canada
²University of Johannesburg, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering Science, PO Box 524, Auckland Park 2006, Johannesburg, South Africa
³University of Witwatersrand, School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa
West African region has abundant second generation biomass resources consisting of agricultural residues, forest resources; municipal solid wastes; and animal wastes that could be harnessed to produce liquid biofuels. A number of countries in the region have developed energy policies to foster bioenergy production. Despite the national intent expressed in various countries’ bioenergy policies, development of bioenergy facilities and liquid biofuels production from cellulosic sources in the region are essentially at the research and development stage. This study, through comprehensive reviews of various bioenergy policies, news reports, related journal articles and development reports, examined the reasons for the delay in the development of bio-refineries in the region. The study then articulated feasible solutions to address the challenges. Among the discovered causes of the delay are over-dependence on fossil fuels and defective energy policy implementation manifesting in the form of lack of continuity. Other issues include poor private sector’s involvement and inadequate incentives necessary for private investors’ participation. This study concludes that boosting liquid biofuels production in West Africa would require public-private collaboration that is built from bottom-up. Successful bioenergy facilities’ development in the region would need to be community level scaled rather than being mega projects, and it would need to involve participation of communities as collaborators. In addition, to ensure sustainable production, it would be necessary to incorporate public enlightenment, and grant tax incentives to investors. Moreover, it would need to include a sustainable technology training package that would empower local engineers and technicians to not only develop bioenergy facilities that are suitable for the locality but also to maintain and improve them. Furthermore, Continuity and consistency in policy implementation and financing prioritization are essential to boosting liquid biofuel production in the West African region and to enable West African region to occupy its rightful place in the global bioeconomy.