15 Oct 2016

Clean Energy Driving Sustainable Development in Africa



Clean Energy Driving Sustainable Development in Africa
Flexi Biogas Solutions Leading the Way

Briefly introduce Flexi Biogas Solutions.
Biogas International Limited – BIL also known as Flexi Biogas Solutions is a limited liability company, incorporated in Kenya in the year 2011 with Kenyan directors and operates from Karen in Nairobi. We operate under a waste-to-resource model, development of beta agro tools to better lives of the common person. Flexi Biogas is an affordable, efficient, portable and user friendly technology. Unlike other biogas technologies, our systems are 100% prefabricated and installs on the surface (no digging or construction) in as little as 3 hours’ time for the domestic systems and only few days for the commercial systems. With this technology, users are not limited to cow dung for feedstock; any biodegradable material goes.

What is the motivation behind Flexi Biogas Solutions?
I would say that the motivation has been the need to address human wildlife conflict among the communities living around conservancies through providing alternative source of energy, time saving among women and children who collect firewood from the age of 5 to the grave through the provision of alternative energy solutions, increasing farm productivity through the use of the bio slurry as a replacement of expensive chemical fertilizer.

What regions do you focus on in your work?
Flexi Biogas works in all parts of Kenya. We also have projects in Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Mali, Nepal, Sao Tome and South Africa.

It is not always easy to shift attitudes in society; how have you managed to have people move from fossil fuel to embracing clean energy?
True. In any given society, introducing any new technology is a challenge since there is uncertainty on the workability and long term benefits of such technology. However, at Flexi Biogas we are able to sell the benefits associated with having Flexi biogas digesters that are of prime interest to them such as saving money on fertilizers, increasing farm productivity, clean cooking, reduced health effects to rural women, waste treatment alternative and reduced greenhouse emissions.

From the start of Flexi Biogas Solutions in 2011, what are some of the success stories especially in reducing poverty among rural communities that you can report?
At Flexi biogas, we believe that The Lack of Energy is the Driver of Poverty. Flexi Biogas Technology is designed to do far more than just cooking, with unmatched efficiency; the surplus gas can be used to do anything conventional fuels do. So the more energy you have, the more work you can do, and the more income you will generate. We have a lot of success stories in all the different areas of activities. Among the main benefits mentioned by the users being clean cooking environment and in turn better health, savings through the use of ‘‘Free gas’’ and the bio-slurry in place of chemical fertilizer.  In summary, the technology has contributed immensely to the general welfare of the rural communities.

What challenges have you encountered?
The main challenge has been getting to the people who need the technology most. The majority of these people are in very rural (remote) and marginalized parts of the country and in most cases they do not have access to such information about clean energy through platforms such as social media and television. Secondly, even though our systems are affordable compared to other biogas systems in the market, some small scale farmers cannot afford to pay for the systems as they live below the poverty line, thus requiring subsidies, discounts and loan facilities to get the biodigesters installed.

How can we nurture innovation for clean energy by young Africans?
First, we should create interest in renewable energy among youth by showing the massive possibilities and opportunities in the sector. Also, it is important to encourage extensive research on different forms and designs old and new, look at the advantages as well as the shortcomings in order to come up with better, simple and sustainable solutions.

How can a small scale farmer interested in your products get access to your services?
Usually we have agents in various parts of the country where the small scale farmer can get advised on our services. Alternatively the farmer can communicate directly with us through phone calls, text message or via mail. We also have an eco-resource center open to the public. From here, we are able to train farmers on different sustainable solutions applicable at farm levels.

How affordable are your services to rural communities given that most are small scale farmers?
In comparison to other technologies, our systems are very affordable. We pride ourselves to being only a third the cost of other biogas systems. The amount of money saved on firewood, charcoal and LPG gas as well as the savings on the fertilizer outweighs the initial cost of the biodigesters. This means that the investments normally recuperated within period less than a year and the return on investment more than 100%.

From experience, what is the future of clean energy in Africa?
Clean energy is tomorrow’s energy. There are a lot of unexploited clean energy resources globally and the drive to switch to these forms is picking up pace as people are more conscious about environmental impacts and the need to develop more sustainable energy solutions.

Below, see some of the featured works by Flexi Biogas:

Visit Flexi Biogas Solutions and let Flexi Biogas transform your world with clean energy.