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Energy programs have been implemented across Africa by various organizations for over twenty-five years. Programs have evolved and improved by taking advantage of both formal and informal communication of program features and lessons learned.
The Best Practice projects presented herein seeks to build experience and knowledge by establishing a structure for sharing best practices to help meet today’s complex energy challenges.
Senegal Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) Programme
High levels of wood fuel consumption were extremely detrimental to the Senagal’s natural forest cover and one of the key causes of environmental degradation. Wood fuel accounts for over 60% of the country's total energy consumption and about 90% of households' energy needs, deforestation was seen as accentuating the problem of desertification and drought that ravaged Senegal and other Sahelian countries in the early 1970s.
In response to these problems, the Government devised strategies aimed at reducing the impact of biomass-energy use through inter-fuel substitution improved efficiency of wood stoves and charcoal kilns and improved woodland management. The LPG20 programme in Senegal, launched in 1974, aimed to eventually replace 50% of charcoal consumption with LPG in major urban areas through subsidies and promotional campaigns.
In order to achieve a high target rate for expanding LPG use, three different price structures were set up, with price revisions every three months: one for 2.75-kg bottles, one for 6-kg bottles and one for large 12.5-kg cylinders. Only the first two sizes were subsidised.
The policy of encouraging LPG consumption was supplemented with measures to rationalise wood resource management. These included regulations concerning the exploitation and use of forest products such as; an increase in wood-cutting license fees, tighter production quotas, the creation of a land allocation system for charcoal production and a progressive increase in the official sales price of charcoal.
Effective management of the pricing structure, which provided incentives for distributors to expand sales, made it possible to quickly develop the market in Senegal. The three main oil companies that handle most LPG storage, bottling, distribution and retailing have invested heavily both in distribution infrastructure and end-use equipment. The construction of new refilling centres in some regions well away from Dakar has helped encourage the development of LPG sales in more remote areas.
Impacts and Lessons Learned
LPG has become the principal cooking fuel for most urban households, especially in the Dakar region. However, poor households still struggle to afford the upfront cost of purchasing an LPG cylinder and cooker and the cylinder-refilling cost.
The remarkably rapid development of the LPG market resulted both from structural changes in demand for energy and from government policy. Energy use would have shifted to modern fuels in response to urbanisation, rising incomes and increasing scarcity of traditional fuels. In addition to subsidising LPG prices, the Government also implicitly manipulated charcoal prices relative to LPG prices, often by allowing charcoal retail prices to rise well above regulated levels.
Despite the successful introduction of LPG in urban areas in Senegal, particularly in Dakar, wood fuel consumption is still very high. This is largely because LPG consumption remains concentrated in urban areas. By reducing urban charcoal demand, LPG has had the beneficial effect of enabling better access to wood-fuel in the rural areas. Improving rural access to LPG would bring further environmental and social benefits.
The Senegalese experience with subsidising LPG demonstrates that rapid switching away from traditional fuels to modern forms of energy does not occur automatically. It requires effective government policies applied over a reasonably long period. Subsidies must also be supported by a number of other measures, including:
- The establishment of a reliable and effective supply system.
- The adoption of technology that is appropriate to local needs.
- The introduction and enforcement of regulations to discourage deforestation.
- Appropriate pricing and taxation policies.
- Attractive incentives for distributors and consumers.
- An effective information and awareness-raising campaign.
According to estimates provided by the Ministry of Energy the growth in LPG use has resulted in annual savings of about 70,000 tonnes of wood-fuel and 90,000 tonnes of charcoal. This is equivalent to 700,000 m3 of wood a year, or 15% of the amount now being collected.
GTZ (2007): Eastern Africa Resource Base: GTZ Online Regional Energy Resource Base: Regional and Country Specific Energy Resource Database: VII - Best Practice Case Studies.