08.09.2014

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With its abundance of natural resources, Africa appears to be predestined for a type of economy that centres on the use of bio-based resources. However, before a comprehensive approach can be applied, a large number of framework conditions and policies will have to change, Adebayo Abass maintains.

There is an acute shortage of food, feed and energy in Africa despite the availability of vast arable land and agro-climatic conditions conducive to competitive biomass production. Bioeconomy development (as part of the green economy) is a useful approach to advancing sustainable growth of African economies, reducing expenditure on oil imports by improving energy supplies, diversifying the markets for agricultural commodities and increasing rural incomes.

However, there are a number of difficult challenges associated with the development of an integrated bioeconomy. These include infrastructure, resource allocation, imaginary or real ‘land grab’, food insecurity, research capacity, access to technology, lack of any clear policy objectives and sector management problems. Nonetheless, the African scientific community agrees on the need to develop Africa’s scientific capacity to ensure Africa participates and benefits from the growing global bioeconomy. Biomass-based concepts must be adapted to Africa by adopting a new higher order approach to improving the efficiency of biomass supply-demand systems.

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