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Ethiopian Sustainable Biofuel Future Scenario at a glance

As part of the Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy powered by The Boeing Company, RSB gathered a group of key stakeholders in the Ethiopian bioeconomy to examine and uncover strategies and scenarios for the future development of a sustainable biofuels industry in the country. The outcomes of this workshop reflect the input and expertise of these stakeholders in a workshop organised by RSB.

This group, representing government, business, research and NGOs, gathered in January 2020 at the Kuriftu Resort and Spa in Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, to develop a set of scenarios for the sustainable development of the biofuels sector in Ethiopia. This scenario development workshop aimed to building knowledge around the dynamics of the biofuel sector in Ethiopia and to examine and uncover strategies to achieve targets set by key industry stakeholders using a collective participatory process that looked at enabling factors and emerging trends over a 15 year timeframe until 2035.

Four scenarios were generated by examining key uncertainties relating to political stability and (lack of) conflict, which will have a direct effect on access to finance/funding/investment for the sustainable biofuels sector;  and price volatility in feedstock and commodity prices, which goes to the heart of long-term feasibility and viability. These provided four scenarios, namely:

  1. TIMECHIGNALESH (a song: I am comfortable / happy with you):

This scenario is characterised by a stable political situation and low price volatility. Ethiopia is politically stable and there is no conflict, and policies and government decisions are predictable. Prices and pricing for biofuels feedstock and products, as well as competing commodities, such as oil, are stable and predictable enough for relatively risk-free long-term planning purposes.

  1. LIBEN GIRA GEBAW (a saying: I am confused, directly translated as: My heart is confused)

In this scenario there is political instability and conflict in Ethiopia, however prices and pricing for biofuels feedstock and products, as well as competing commodities, such as oil, remain stable and predictable.

  1. BE ENKIRT LAY JORO DEGIF, (a proverb: describing a situation whereby a problem is added to an already problematic situation to make things even worse – similar to the English saying: “Adding salt to a wound”)

In this scenario there is a very high level of political instability and conflict in Ethiopia, alongside extreme price volatility for both biofuels feedstocks and products as well as competing commodities, such as oil.

  1. YEBET SIRA (a song: direct translation is ‘Homework’: but it implies a partner who is unpredictable, and it is difficult to know their next move despite them having been provided with everything)

In this scenario the political situation in Ethiopia is stable and there is no conflict, however, there is extreme price volatility for both biofuels feedstocks and products as well as competing commodities, such as oil.

While these scenarios do not predict the future, they provide the means to consider today’s policies, plans and decision-making processes in light of potential future developments.

These scenarios were then used to “stress test” existing priorities, strategies, plans and approaches, as well as identify risks and opportunities in each of the alternative futures, plus generate actions, recommendations and options of how to make a preferred future for sustainable biofuels in Ethiopia more feasible and likely. At the end of the workshop stakeholders agreed that the best next steps to achieve the preferred scenario – TIMECHIGNALESH – consisted of a set of actions, recommendations and options that perform well in more than one scenario – in other words those that are robust, regardless of how the future turns out. This includes:

  • Raise awareness with all stakeholders by focusing on the benefits of biofuels such as energy access, land rehabilitation, climate change mitigation, and the substitution of petroleum products (for transport, including aviation).
  • Create partnerships across sectors and with international actors in the sector
  • Support research and development on feedstock, technology and agriculture which will be imperative for the development of the sector
  • Expand into second generation production
  • Ensure product diversification
  • Support the development implementation of a biofuels mandate and policies
  • Create an open invitation for partnerships and investment based on sustainable criteria
  • Develop a carbon finance programme to incentivise community stakeholders
  • Ensure community and social benefit by providing access to products for cooking, lighting, etc.
  • Push for the setting, and approval, of standards
  • Reach an off-take agreement with Ethiopian Airlines
  • Tap into existing Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes
  • Develop legal and policy framework development and enforcement, including standardisation and certification schemes.
  • Support revision of Ethiopia’s land use policy
  • Create local job opportunities for in sustainable biofuel production

The full report serves as a working document that can be used on its own or incorporated into other relevant material such as feasibility studies, roadmaps, short-, medium- and long-term policy strategy documents, advocacy communiques, and more.

For further information contact [email protected] Project Manager – Ethiopia, RSB.

Read the full report here.

This scenario workshop and report was supported by RSB under the project Fuelling the Sustainable Bioeconomy. 

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