Makerere University, together with 28 other partners across Africa and Europe have been awarded funding of EUR 6,962,820 by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 to collaborate and implement a five-year project “Renewable Energies for Africa: Effective Valorization of Agri-food Wastes (REFFECT AFRICA).”
The project seeks to demonstrate innovative, reliable, and adapted sustainable energy solutions based on the valorization of biomass wastes from the agri-food industry. REFFECT AFRICA will build biomass gasification demonstrators at three African locations includingGhana, Morocco, and South Africa. The project will cover bothurbanized and rural contexts in Africa, as well as the different socio-economicbackgrounds. The demonstrators will be adapted and optimized to a wide variety of biomass wastes availablein the specified locations, producing electricity for productive use.
Beyond electricity, the installed demonstratorswill provide a range of secondary uses to communitiesto close the energy-food-water cycle. These include heating or cooling, biochar, steam for sterilization or food processing, water and pathogen analysis. Other business model approaches in REFFECT AFRICA include biomass supply and logistics. Beyond these, the partners in REFFECT AFRICA will take advantage of digital tools to;1) achieve more useful and profitable exploitation pathways for plant operators and entrepreneurs, 2) impact policymakers in order to boost the transition to renewables in Africa and 3) train and raise awareness on a new generation of African stakeholders.
The roles of Makerere University team on the project include; characterization of the main agri-food value chains and wastes available in Uganda, identification ofwater needs and regulatory issues in Uganda, giving technical support to partners on various project tasks including demonstration of the gasification plants, assessment of soil fertility situation at the proposed demo-sites, setting up living labs, and assessment of the agronomic performance of biochar.
Other roles include setting up water laboratories and testing at the demonstrators, establishing training needs of there newable energy workforce, preparation of training modules, and organizinganexpansion workshop in Uganda, wherethe results of the project will be disseminated. The lead partner and coordinador of REFFECT AFRICA is Universidad de Jaen (UJA),Spain.
At Makerere University, Dr. Peter W. Olupot from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, in the College of Engineering, Design Art and Technology (CEDAT) is the Principal Investigator. Other team members on the project include Ms. Jacintha Gumoteyo Nayebare and Dr. Emmanuel Menya. A Kick-off meeting for the project was held on 17-18th November 2021 at Universidad de Jaen (UJA), Linares, Spain.