Energy in Burkina Faso, 90% Renewable But...
By Godefroy Thiombiano, APER Boukrina Faso
Burkina Faso is part of the Sahel area south of the Sahara
dessert. It has a surface of 275,000 km2, a population of 10.5 million, and a
gross national product of 300 US$/year (12% of the European average). The final
energy consumption is 1.3 MWh/capita/year, (Approx. 7 % of world average) of
which 90% comes from wood and other biomass resources, 8% from imported oil and
2% from electricity. The potential for renewable energy consists of biomass,
direct solar energy (3-5 times as much incoming solar energy per m as in
Europe), and some hydro-power resources.
In a situation with diminishing firewood resources and an oil bill
equivalent to 25% of export earnings, the various official development plans
make energy an everyday concern, with the following aims:
· eradication of desertification by reducing wood consumption
via rational use of wood energy;
· reduction of oil costs by
diversifying supply to more suppliers.
Rational Use of Biomass
To improve the efficiency of wood combustion, improved cookstoves
are disseminated that use wood and charcoal as well as other alternative fuels,
such as oil, butane gas, and alcohol. The models that bum wood and charcoal are
of a design that is three to four times more efficient than the traditional
fireplaces, which are constructed of three stones.
Between 1980 and 1990, 20,000 improved stoves were disseminated
annually, mainly in the rural areas. The types designed for rural areas were
made of clay and built by the users. For urban areas, metallic stoves (known as
Ouaga Metallic, Burkina Mixte, and others) and ceramic ones were used. They were
disseminated with the help of artisans' organizations.
It must be noted that there is a lack of awareness of the need for
efficient energy use. The different evaluations show considerable variation in
the acceptance of the technologies, especially in rural areas.
On average, 2,O00 ha of forests is saved per year due to the wood
The direct use of solar energy is just beginning, and does not
contribute significantly to the energy balance of the country. A number of
technologies are applied to use this resource for, e.g., water heating,
communication, light, food processing, conservation of medicine. The following
applications illustrate these uses:
· dissemination of systems for water heating. This is a
mature technology with local production of systems although the materials are
· dissemination of solar driers. This is also a mature
technology, fulfilling a real need. The systems are produced locally, and the
dissemination is made easier by acceptance fuelled by existing habits of drying
certain products as well as by the market for dried products.
· installation of systems for rural electrification.
In spite of the interest, a larger dissemination of solar energy
will not take place before certain measures are in place:
· an inspection/certification of the different available
systems and an evaluation of their impacts;
· a reduction of import
duties on solar energy systems and components.
More than 95% of the electricity is produced and distributed by
SONABEL, the national electric utility of Burkina Faso. The production is mainly
done by power stations fuelled with heavy oil (78%); the remainder is from
hydro-power. The main consumer is the state, which buys almost 2/3 of the
production, mainly for air-conditioning, indoor- and street-lighting.
Efforts are made to raise the awareness of the need for more
rational use of electricity by developing better user habits and by using better
equipment. Energy audits of the 10 largest consumers showed potentials for
saving 20-50% of their electricity bills.
Even though the state of Burkina Faso has made an effort to
support energy research, it is necessary that future programs be supported by
bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The IBE (Institut Bukinabe de l'Energie)
should play a number of roles in programmes to tailor technologies to small
users, to disseminate research results to artisans, and to contribute
It is also time to start new mechanisms that can make research and
development results available to the public. A unit for support for and
collaboration with local organizations would help to disseminate such results to
the community, facilitating cooperation between researchers and the general
Translated, edited and shortened by the editors.
APER - Association pour la Promotion des Energies Renouvelables is
under establishment with the aim of bridging the gap between the specialised
institutions and the general public within the field of sustainable energy use.
APER plans to create a file of persons from all over the world that will share
their ideas and develop cooperation.
More Info: Godefroy Thiombiano, APERBl.4461 OuagadougouOl, Burkina