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Rwanda Biomass Valorisation Center

13 Jun 2018

TNO is exploring the feasibility of a biomass valorization center in Rwanda. The study aims to get an overview of existing bio-waste volumes, market demand for bio-based products and linking possible in- and outputs in value chains. First results look very promising. Together with market parties we are looking into technology development and production of bio-degradable packaging and sustainable energy.

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Rwanda focuses on sustainable development

TNO team with rice producer to discuss the usage of waste

The government of Rwanda is strongly committed to sustainable development. In 'Vision 2020', a government development program in Rwanda for development, the key priorities are presented for the country in its aim to accelerate sustainable development towards a high-quality industrial and knowledge economy. The most characteristic policy in this area is the ban on (non-biodegradable) plastic bags and packaging materials. For many local food manufacturers, this ban poses a major challenge in finding suitable packaging materials for their products and to compete with imported products.
In addition, there is a growing capacity need of the electricity grid. It is important that energy is sustainable and Rwanda is largely self-sufficient and does not depend on foreign currency. Using bio-waste to generate energy on a large scale and produce biodegradable plastics locally could pose viable solutions.
During the study TNO spoke with small entrepreneurs, large companies and government institutions both in Rwanda and in the Netherlands, to identify challenges and ambitions in relation to biomass valorization. Furthermore an overview has been created of the available bio-waste streams, (technological) capacity for biomass valorization and interest in bio-based products in Rwanda.

Big opportunities for a Biomass Valorization Center

A number of interesting value chains have been identified. In particular, waste from rice, maize, sugar cane, coffee, tea and residual streams from breweries can be valorized to bio-based products for which there is a market, e.g. plastic packaging materials, seedling tubes and kitchen utensils, chemicals and energy. Maximum commercial value can be achieved when different residual flows can be combined into a multitude of products, which emphasizes the importance of a Biomass Valorization Center in Rwanda. Here, partners can exchange relevant knowledge, test technological concepts in a local context and analyze both technical as well as commercial feasibility.
Together with Rwandan / Dutch companies and institutions we investigate specific value chains as a next step. The goal is to start a joint PPP project to demonstrate the feasibility of the first chains locally and set up the center. Especially for Dutch entrepreneurs and knowledge institutions, there are many opportunities to participate and to test the feasibility of biomass conversion technology in Rwanda.

Diagram with available biomass in Rwanda

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