Giraffe Bioenergy, a company dedicated to creating rural economic opportunities through large-scale cassava cultivation that produces both food and fuel, has been awarded a $50,000 grant by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Power Africa initiative. This exciting project combines Giraffe Bioenergy’s expertise with technical support from Factor E Ventures and Arizona State University (ASU), forming a powerful alliance to advance the development of ethanol fuel biorefineries across the region.

Sustainable Solutions with Local Impact

By utilizing cassava, locally-grown by women living in semi-arid areas in rural Kenya, Giraffe Bioenergy converts the cassava and crop waste into ethanol which is a clean and sustainable cooking fuel. Giraffe Bioenergy’s vision centers on fostering sustainable economic growth in rural communities and prioritizing key roles for women across the value chain. Their mission is to enhance food security, improve women’s health, and increase incomes through climate-resilient cassava farming.

Women planting novel disease-and drought tolerant cassava seedlings developed from the Giraffe Bioenergy Centre for Cassava Excellence

A Game-changer for the Clean Cooking Industry

Ethanol cooking is transforming the way Kenyan households cook. Currently, around 70 percent of Kenyans rely on polluting biomass fuels like wood and charcoal for cooking. This dependence has a two-fold negative impact: deforestation and indoor air pollution. The smoke from these fuels is a significant health hazard, particularly for women and children who are primarily responsible for cooking. Ethanol cooking offers a cleaner and safer alternative, reducing harmful emissions and improving respiratory health.

In Kenya, over 95 percent of the ethanol used for cooking is imported when it could be produced locally enhancing agricultural and manufacturing value chains. Locally produced ethanol fuel offers several advantages by creating a more stable and secure fuel supply, stimulating the local economy, and reducing emissions and transportation costs. By using locally-sourced cassava as the feedstock, Giraffe Bioenergy creates a sustainable cycle that supports Kenyan farmers and fosters economic growth.

In Kenya and across Africa, wood and charcoal are the most widely available and affordable cooking fuels which Giraffe BioEnergy is working to replace

Scaling Up for Impact

The grant from Power Africa will serve as a springboard for Giraffe Bioenergy’s ambitious goal to construct facilities capable of producing 75 million liters of ethanol cooking fuel per year by 2030. ASU plays a crucial role in this venture by providing invaluable guidance on energy modeling. Their expertise will contribute to a robust agro-processing system that incorporates renewable energy sources like solar, hydro, and biogas – derived from the waste generated during cassava processing. ASU is supporting the development of technical specifications for Giraffe Bioenergy, enabling the establishment of a renewable off-grid power system for their ethanol cooking fuel biorefinery and irrigation systems. Factor[e] is working with Giraffe to bolster their outgrower program, focusing on empowering women within the community to cultivate cassava. This initiative aims to supply Giraffe with the raw material needed for fuel production.

Women attend rigorous training in good cassava agricultural practice (GCAP) including classroom instruction and field work

We envision our facilities as a model of efficiency, where every aspect of the cassava root is utilized effectively.” Said Dr. Linda Davis, Giraffe Bioenergy’s visionary Founder and CEO.”The ethanol produced will address the growing demand for clean cooking options in Kenya. Additionally, captured carbon dioxide will be used to support the local beverage industry. Waste streams will be recycled to generate thermal and electrical energy, while any remaining organic matter will be returned to the cassava fields as fertilizer.”

This collaboration represents a powerful model of innovation and cooperation, with the potential to be replicated across East Africa and other regions facing similar environmental and health challenges that could be resolved through green investment as mentioned by Kenya President William Ruto.This united effort paves the way for cleaner, healthier cooking, not just for Kenya families, but for communities across Africa.

About the AmpUp Consortium

Giraffe Bioenergy is one of three recipients of the Engendering Energy in Kenya grant funded by Power Africa — a U.S. government-led partnership, harnessing the collective resources of public and private sectors to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa — and awarded to Factor[e] Ventures in partnership with Arizona State University and the Advancing Modern Power through Utility Partnerships consortium, led by the United States Energy Association (USEA). Together, this partnership is boosting gender equity in renewable energy in Africa.  From this grant, Giraffe Bioenergy received USD 50,000 and technical support to continue scaling their solutions in emerging markets. Other recipients include 60 Hertz and SunCulture.

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