Ethiopia is institutionalising bio-digester private sector development and scale-up of bio-digester dissemination to make the business sustainable.
Ethiopia has huge potential for bio-digester. Despite its potential, the progress of bio-digester construction is very slow. This is because of the slow formation of biogas construction enterprises (BCEs), high drop out of masons from the business, sluggish payment for BCE operators, and limited promotion of the technology.
To address the issue and strengthen bio-digester private sector development, Amhara regional government re-organised its energy bureau structure. Amhara region has set an ambitious target to construct 20,000 bio-digesters in the second GTP period (2015/16-2019/20).
Following this, the regional government allocated budget for biogas development activities, established a new structure at zone and woreda levels and promoted bio-digester through organising events, for example, biogas festivals and experience sharing visits for farmers, implementers and stakeholders.
“Reorganisation of energy structure empowered zones to take overall responsibility for bio-digester dissemination. The coordination unit introduced system for weekly update and holds all responsible bodies accountable” said Fantaye Kassahun, Manager, and Amhara Regional Biogas Programme Coordination Unit (RBPCU).
These structures are responsible for installation, capacity development, planning, monitoring, and evaluation, among others. The division of roles and responsibilities and the increased accountability energised RBPCU and regional energy bureau staff to boost bio-digester installation, develop Bio-digester Construction Work and BCE Establishment Manual, provide need-based technical backstopping for zones and woredas, and engage in a periodical monitoring and evaluation.
Each zone is authorised to procure locally manufactured accessories/appliances like stoves and dome pipes. To keep the market development momentum high, SNV trained 20 technicians from nine metal workshops on stove, dome pipe and dung mixer manufacturing. Following the training, three workshops were contracted for manufacturing of stoves and dome pipes for their respective and neighbouring zones.
Another initiative of the region is the introduction of region-wise bio-digester construction pricing scheme based on bio-digester size which will attract more BCEs to the sector and encourage them to stay in the business.
Following the implementation of the Bio-digester Construction Work and BCE Establishment Manual and other systems, the majority of the woredas formalised at least one BCE. As of June 2019, a total number of 90 BCEs, consisting of 339 members (of which 19 female members), have been formalised in the region using the trade category of ‘biogas business’ recently included in Ethiopian Standard Industrial Classification (Ministry of Trade). This is facilitated by Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) and Enterprise Development Office.
According to Bekalu Molla, SNV Advisor, formalising BCEs helps bio-digester business and private sector development. He added, formalised BCEs are taking more responsibility in bio-digester value chain and they stand on their feet and to run their business successfully. Besides, formalising BCEs at local level has also helped potential customers to access services easily and efficiently, and has created work for unskilled labourers.
SNV supports BCEs in business plan preparation and business coaching. SNV has so far supported 11 BCEs in Amhara region and 19 BCEs in other regions in business plan preparation and provided business coaching to owners-managers of BCEs. This, combined with other interventions, contribute to the sustainable development of bio-digester business at the local level.
SNV in collaboration with Ethiopia Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC), a UNDP initiative, provided Customised Entrepreneurship Training for 54 individual masons and owner/managers of BCE and 31 Energy Experts in Amhara region in 2018.