Young, motivated entrepreneurs lead biogas market growth

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One of the ways The National Biogas Programme of Ethiopia (NBPE+) disseminates bio-digester technology is through organisations known as Bio-digester Construction Enterprises (BCEs).

These organisations usually comprise of young bio-digester entrepreneurs. As of October 2020, there were 94 newly established BCEs in the Amhara region in addition to a newly established private sector association.

Bio-digester Construction Enterprises (BCEs)

Ayalew Wale and Friends BCE based in the Amhara region was formed by seven young biogas trainees in March 2019. By June 2020, their organisation had constructed 47 bio-digesters.

'Most of us have experience in construction and waterworks. The income, as well as its multiple benefits, has helped us strengthen our bond with the bio-digester business,' said Ayalew Wale chairman of Ayalew Wale and Friends BCE.

SNV, together with partners, provided these young entrepreneurs with business skills training. To make their business viable and help them provide quality service, SNV supplemented the training with business plan preparation support. The chairman said the process helped him further realise the importance of promoting the technology, stimulating demand, improving teamwork and collaboration among stakeholders, including promoters.

The Woreda (District) Water and Energy Office gave the BCE space for an office in their compound. Now that the BCE has an office, the members have set about organising new business cards, signboards, receipts, and stamps.

'This support energised us to test our capacity. Even without the engagement of the Woreda Energy Experts, we have had 50 requests in four months. In the future, we also plan to supply bio-digester appliances and accessories,' added Ayalew Wale.

Members of the BCE in their office in Hulet Eju Enese Woreda, East Gojjam zone

Members of the BCE in their office in Hulet Eju Enese Woreda, East Gojjam zone

Building and maintaining demand

To build and maintain demand, the BCE had to apply a carrot-and-stick approach. BCE members who complete the construction of a bio-digester on schedule will have the opportunity to construct more digesters. Those BCE members, who refuse to provide an after-sales service, will be penalised. As a result, all bio-digesters constructed by the BCE are functioning properly. BCEs with a long-term view are taking up more activities in the bio-digester value chain and moving towards creating a sustainable private sector.

The bio-digester enterprise generates a monthly income of about ETB 20,000 (USD 625). In addition, the business creates two temporary job opportunities for each biodigester construction. Thanks to the income from this business, members have enough money to live comfortably and increase their savings.

'The BCE takes the bio-digester construction business very seriously, including the after-sales-service', said Yehun Asrat, Biogas Expert, Hulet Eju Enese Water and Energy Woreda.

About the NBPE+

The National Biogas programme of Ethiopia (NBPE+) promotes bio-digester technology to address the clean energy gaps in Ethiopia. The co-product, bio-slurry is a high-value organic fertiliser. Biogas construction enterprises have to play a key role in disseminating quality bio-digesters.

NBPE+ is co-funded by the Government of Ethiopia and by the European Union. The overall objective of NBPE+ is to improve the living standards of farmers and their families, in nine regions of Ethiopia, while reducing the over-exploitation of biomass and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.