Workshop "Biofuels in Cameroon: Challenges and opportunities"

Workshop with representatives of various public ministries in Cameroon to discuss challenges and opportunities related to Biofuels in general and in the country more specifically. The workshop included the presentation of the book "Roadmap for Sustainable Biofuels in Southern Africa: Regulatory frameworks for improved development?"

Since the surge in oil prices in 2005, biofuels have gained interest in public policy. Biofuels are not only a mean of limiting greenhouse gas emissions, but can help to reduce Energy dependence. The biofuel sector is also seen as a source of employment and income for agriculture and industry. However, more and more voices are being raised to denounce their negative effects in terms of environmental, social impact as well as food insecurity.

Konrad Adenauer Foundation organized a workshop on “enjeux des biocarburants au Cameroun” in Yaoundé on Wednesday 23 August 2017. This workshop brought together representatives of various public ministries to discuss the future of biofuels in Cameroon. The meeting was divided into two parts. The first part was the presentation of the book "Roadmap for Sustainable Biofuels in Southern Africa: Regulatory frameworks for improved development?", a KAS publication by Prof. Dr. Oliver Ruppel and Dr. Holger Dix. In the second part of the meeting, an inventory of the current situation of biofuels in Cameroon was made.

As one of the participants pointed out, the book "Roadmap for Sustainable Biofuels in Southern Africa: Regulatory frameworks for improved development?" serves as an excellent resource base and assessing the potential of biofuel production taking into account sustainability aspects as well as the importance of having a proper legal basis for the regulation of this sector.

Professor Ruppel introduced the book, pointing out some key opportunities and challenges of biofuels in general and with regard to Cameroon.

Dr. Bothwell Batidzirai from the Energy Research Centre, University of Cape Town discussed the content of the book in terms of scientific background, its relevance for other countries, the impacts of biofuels on the society and sustainable development. Looking at the examples of South Africa and Zimbabwe he also referred to some legal aspects, which are indispensable for the regulation of this sector.

The second part, was fully focused on Cameroon, with 3 excellent presentations:

For the Government's vision, the Ministry of Water and Energy was represented by Mr. Massoma, Director of the Office of Renewable Energies. He gave an overview of the situation of biofuels in Cameroon. Cameroon has ratified several agreements that demonstrate its commitment to protecting the environment. He pointed out that a legal framework for biofuels does not yet exist in Cameroon and that this sector is currently regulated by texts governing petroleum products and the protection of the environment. It was further pointed out that in 2011 a first study on the biofuels sector had been carried out. Cameroon has a strong agricultural potential favorable to several types of crops, but very few structures actually produce biofuel to date. The government is therefore encouraging the use of alternative and less polluting sources of energy such as biofuels and wishes to investigate the policy relevance thereof further.

Professor Emmanuel Kam Yogo from University of Douala, confirmed that Cameroon does not have a specific legal text for the biofuels sector and urges decision-makers to establish a regulatory basis capable to contribute to the country's development. Public policy for the promotion of biofuels should be clearly defined, consistent and compatible with economic and food security requirements, while taking into account social and environmental constraints. There is also a need for the protection of small-scale producers and ecosystems.

Dr. Mathurin Tchatat, Director at IRAD eluded to the societal relevance of biofuels against different energy sources and taking into account environmental, cultural and social challenges.

Divided in 4 working groups the participants actively came up with an action plan:

1) Cameroon needs a more updated and comprehensive feasibility study on the production and marketing of biofuels;

2) Cameroon needs a strategy for the development of the biofuels sector;

3) Cameroon should consider to establish a regulatory framework specifically for biofuels;

4) Cameroons population needs more education and public awareness on renewable energy including biofuels.%