African countries face a broad spectrum of challenges in their pursuit for progress. Among the key challenges to sustainable development in the region is the issue of energy security. Fears of oil supply disruptions, high prices, power blackouts and fuelwood shortages have all become issues of concern especially for poor oil importing countries in SSA (Batidzirai and Wamukonya, 2010; UNECE, 2007). Concerns are more critical for landlocked countries, where transportation costs of fuel are high and supply lines are vulnerable to disruptions in the case of civil unrest, natural disasters, geopolitical instability or barriers to trade (Habitat, 1993; Scurlock et al, 1991).
For most Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the ability to meet growing demand for energy is among the top national priorities. The availability of reliable and affordable energy in sufficient quantities is essential for meeting basic needs and driving economic development. While seeking to improve their energy security, SSA countries must tackle a number of challenges; including diversification of supply, securing capital and financing for energy infrastructure, develop technical expertise and technical solutions tailored to specific national needs.
Where conditions are conducive, biofuels have potential to substitute a significant amount of energy used in the transport, electricity and cooking sectors. Biofuels are an attractive transport energy option for most SSA countries as the production does not require sophisticated technologies. Furthermore many SSA countries possess abundant natural resources and favourable conditions such as high temperatures, solar incidence and availability of land which are pre-requisites for development of successful biofuels industries. Recent studies have shown that potential for biomass energy is very high in SSA. The sugar industry is one of the key sectors which has potential to contribute significantly to the supply of bioethanol fuel for transportation as well as supply of bagasse-fired electricity.
Earthscan , 2011.