Biogas Business Boost Benefitting Farmers (4B-F)

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Biogas Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda

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Technologies biogas
Partners Tanzanian Ministry of Industry, Kenyan Ministry of Energy and Petroleum (MEP), Renewable Energy Directorate, Ugandan Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD)
Implementers GIZ, Hivos, SNV
Outcomes Access to thermal energy:
  • 4,600 people

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Energy Situation


The energy sector in Kenya is largely dominated by petroleum and electricity with food fuel dominating in rural communities, urban poor and informal sector. As of 2007, Biomass Energy Resources in Kenya, firewood, charcoal and agricultural wastes contributed approx. up to 70% of Kenya’s final energy demand and provided for almost 90% of rural household energy needs, about one third in the form of charcoal and the rest from firewood. Due to increased poverty, there is a significant shift to non-traded traditional biomass fuels. The proportion of households consuming biomass has risen to 83% from 73% in 1980. The country’s firewood demand is about 3.5 million tonnes per year, while its annual supply is only around 1.5 million tonnes. This deficit has led to high rates of deforestation resulting in desertification, land degradation, droughts and famine.

Biogas in Kenya

Agriculture dominates Kenya’s economy, as the greatest contributor to Gross Domestic Product. However, about half of Kenya's total agricultural output is non-marketed subsistence production. There is potential for using biogas technology on small-scale farms to manage on-farm organic wastes (livestock dung/litter), and providing a clean, renewable source of energy (cooking, lighting etc). The bioproduct of the biodigester (bioslurry) is a very effective natural fertilizer significantly improves farm productivity. Nonetheless, the potential of using biogas has so far been unexploited.

Biogas in Kenya has been there since the mid 50s, with first attempts being made to use biogas technology from coffee pulp. Due to the high construction costs, the technology was sold mainly to large-scale farmers and public institutes like schools by private entrepreneurs. However, the plants stopped functioning due to technical problems. Later, the plants constructed in the early 80s faced quality assurance, user management and dissemination strategy short-comings. However, after all these initial difficulties, the technology currently seems to be on the way to maturity. About 20,000 rural and peri-urban Kenyans have so far made the switch to biogas for cooking, as traditional fuels like kerosene and gas cylinders remain expensive despite lower world oil prices. Demand for biogas has also been spurred by legislation restricting timber harvesting, and a growing appetite for solid and liquid waste management within county governments. However, the cost of installation is still beyond the reach of many Kenyans and a significant number operate below capacity or are currently in disuse due to challenges with users management capacities, technical, or economic problems.


About 50% of the population in Tanzania lives in poverty, out of which 35% is unable to access all of the basic needs including energy services. The Biomass Energy Strategy Tanzania (BEST) 2014 indicates that the vast majority of Tanzanians rely on biomass for energy consumption; mostly in the form of fuelwood or charcoal that is used for cooking and heating. Wood energy demand accounts for approximately 90% of Tanzania’s overall energy supply and demand. Almost 90% of that demand comes from the household sector. In rural areas, firewood is mostly used for cooking while charcoal is used for the same in the urban areas. Due to high urbanization and high (perceived) prices of other fuels like LPG or electricity, the charcoal demand has nearly doubled. According to FAO 2012, the total forest cover of Tanzania had decreased by 30% from the forest cover level in 1990. This means that the current biomass use cannot be considered sustainable and the demand for woodfuels has put a serious pressure on the country’s forests. Apart from the environmental impacts of biomass energy use, there are economic impacts on household spending. Poor households spend a considerable share (from 35-50%) of their total income to meet their domestic energy needs. Biomass energy alone accounts for 63.5% of a typical family’s household energy budget (SNV, 2012).

Biogas in Tanzania

The history of biogas in Tanzania dates back in 1975 when the Small Industries Development Organisation built 120 floating-drum plants up to 1984. However, most of the plants became unfunctional due to technical problems. Currently, ABPP provides financial and technical support to Centre for Agricultural Mechanization and Rural Technology (CAMARTEC) in implementing the Tanzania Domestic Biogas Programme (TDBP). By 2016, 13,523 bio-digesters had been installed providing access to clean energy to over 70,000 Tanzanian people mainly women and children. The aim of TDBP is to develop a market to facilitate the large-scale dissemination of domestic biogas in the country. Rural Energy Agency (REA) is responsible for boosting modern energy services in rural areas, simplification of projects, and technical assistance of project development. However, just like in Kenya, the installed biodigesters continue to face functionality and affordability challenges. The cost of installation is still above reach of many, therefore requiring a boost from credit institutions.


The energy resource potential of the country includes an estimated 2,000 MW of hydro power, 450 MW of geothermal, 1,650 MW of biomass cogeneration, 460 million tons of biomass standing stock with a sustainable annual yield of 50 million tons, an average of 5.1 kWh/m2 of solar energy, and about 250 Mtoe of peat (800 MW). In addition, petroleum in an estimated amount of 6.5 billion barrels, of which 1.4 billion barrels are recoverable, has been discovered in the western part of the country. The overall renewable energy power generation potential is estimated to be 5,300 MW. Biomass is still the most important source of energy for a majority of the Ugandan population with about 90% of the total primary energy consumption generated through biomass (firewood (78.6%), charcoal (5.6%) and crop residues (4.7%). Electricity contributes only 1.4% to the national energy balance while oil products, which are mainly used for vehicles and thermal power plants, account for the remaining 9.7%. Charcoal is mainly used in the urban areas while firewood, agro-residues and wood wastes are widely used in the rural areas. Only about 10% of all households use efficient stoves. In 2012, only 14.1% of Uganda’s land area was covered with forest. By 2010, 39% of the existing forest had disappeared due to deforestation.

Uganda is richly endowed with abundant energy resources (hydropower, biomass, solar, geothermal, peat and fossil fuels), which are fairly distributed throughout the country.

Biogas in Uganda

Despite the introduction of biogas in the 1950s, the technology has not received considerable acceptance and as a result its penetration has remained low. Several installed biogas plants have failed and those working are not to the expectation of the owners. By 2016, over 7,600 households had constructed biogas digesters through the support of Uganda Biogas Programme as the national implementing agency,  giving over 45,600 people in rural Uganda clean energy for cooking and lighting.

For more information on Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda see their respective pages on energypedia.


The Africa Biogas Partnership Programme (ABPP) in partnership with the Dutch government, Hivos and SNV have been supporting national biogas programmes in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso since 2009 to develop a commercially viable, market-oriented biogas sector that will support the dissemination of domestic biogas plants as a local, sustainable energy source and organic fertilizer provider.

The Biogas Business Boost Benefitting Farmers (4B-F) programme rolled on and complement the efforts of the Africa Biogas Partnership Programme phase II (ABPP-II 2014-2019) with the aim of accelerating demand for the domestic biogas digesters through incentivising the service providers and improving quality. It is a five-year programme (2015-2019) implemented in three countries: Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This is a Result Based Finance (RBF) initiative aiming for improving the quality and the functionality of biogas digesters and at improving affordability by stimulating access to finance. The primary aim of the programme is to boost business, benefiting farmers. The objectives of the programme are:

  • To strengthen and soften the impacts of discontinuation of investment subsidy on the markets for bio-digesters in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda
  • To provide effective quality control and after-sale service mechanisms, lowering the cost of provision of these services
  • To reduce transaction costs for developing and marketing biogas loan products by MFIs, ensuring biogas credit penetrates to poorer strata of society
  • To enhance regionalization for cross-border cooperation and knowledge transfer

The programme is implemented through application of two types of RBF incentives, namely the Credit Sanctioning Incentive (CSI) to Financial Institutions for stimulation of affordable credit availability and Quality Plant Incentive (QPI) to Biogas Construction Enterprises (BCEs) for stimulation of good after-sales services and customer care, combined with regional exchange and learning and business development support.This is translated in the Theory of Change below.