Sustainable Development and Bioeconomic Prosperity in Africa

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  • 1. African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 8 (11), pp. 2397-2408, 3 June, 2009Available online at 1684–5315 © 2009 Academic JournalsFull Length Research Paper Sustainable development and bioeconomic prosperity in Africa: Bio-fuels and the South African gateway Dorsamy (Gansen) Pillay1,2* and Edgar J. Da Silva3, 1 Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology, Faculty of Applied Sciences, Durban University of Technology, P.O. Box 1334, Durban 4000, South Africa. 2* Discipline of Microbiology, School of Biochemistry, Genetics and Microbiology, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of KwaZulu-Natal, P. Bag X54001, Durban 4000, South Africa. 3 Former Director, Division of Life Sciences, UNESCO, Paris 75015, France. Accepted 14 April, 2009 African countries along with the co-founders of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) must use biotechnology as a valuable tool for socio-economic and sustainable development. National, regional and international consultations and debates ensure timely attention of peer-reviewed guidelines concerning significant issues like bio-risks, bio-safety, and bio-security that impinge on daily human existence and welfare. High–cost fossil fuel prices and national security concerns have sparked interest in bio-fuels in continental Africa. In brief, Africa is taking the lead in creating its own biotechnology agenda and roadmap to socioeconomic and sustainable development. The emergence of “Rainbow Biotech” serves as a catalytic portal amongst others for collaborative effort and continental development. Key words: Bio-fuels, economic development, biotechnology, South Africa, Africa.INTRODUCTIONThe Republic of South Africa (RSA) has drawn attention, resources, minimize pollution of the environment, and im-through its visionary and pioneering involvement in co- prove the quality of human, animal and plant life. Ghana,founding with Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, and Senegal, a Kenya, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe - sugar-strategic New Partnership for Africa’s Development producing countries- are exploring the option of large-(NEPAD). This partnership responds to a mandate of the scale production of bio-ethanol (Table 1). The potential of thOrganization of African Unity’s 37 Summit in Lusaka, Jatropha curcas, an alternative bio-fuel source, hasZambia, July 2001 calling for a socio-economic sustain- enthused bioeconomists and policy-decision-makers inable pathway for the emergence of continental Africa into Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar,the mainstreams of regional cooperation and international Malawi and South Africa.governance concerning biotechnology [Box 1]. Energy security is a crucial element in sustaining Several African countries are pursuing independent development and technological progress in Africa. Thebiotechnological options to reduce their dependence on purpose of this review, therefore, is to provide an over-fossil fuel energy imports to conserve foreign-exchange view of biofuel activities in Africa, the potential for economic development and the concerns with the use of certain food crops as feedstock for bio-ethanol production.*Corresponding author. E-mail: Tel: 00 2731 3732576. GENETICALLY MODIFIED ORGANISMS (GMOS), GENETICALLY MODIFIED (GM) CROPS AND BIO- Dr. da Silva passed on after co-authoring this manuscript. This FUELSmanuscript is dedicated to him for his iconic contributions inbiotechnology to developing countries. GMOs and GM crops unite and divide African decision
  • 2. 2398 Afr. J. Biotechnol. BOX 1 NEPAD PRIMARY OBJECTIVES -To eradicate poverty; -To place African countries, individually and collectively on the path of sustainable growth and development; -To halt the marginalization of Africa in the globalization process and to enhance Africa’s full and beneficial integration into the global economy; and -To accelerate the empowerment of women and children. THE PRINCIPLES OF NEPAD ACTION -Good governance as the basic requirement for peace, security and sustainable political and socio-economic development; -African ownership and leadership with participation by all sectors of society; -Anchoring the development of Africa through its own resources and the resourcefulness of its people; -Partnership between and amongst all African people; -Acceleration of regional and continental integration; -Promotion of the competitiveness of the African continent and its countries; -Construction of a new international partnership that reflects the peer-equal relationship between Africa and the developed world; and -Ensurance that all partnerships with NEPAD are linked to the UN Millennium Development Goals and Targets. Source: and researchers in Africa. Whilst genetically tiatives, have now adopted a regional five-year plan ofmodified crops are commercially produced in South action for increasing food production through biotechno-Africa, an informal ban is in place in Zambia. Several logy. Much has been written about the pros and cons ofWest African countries, fiercely proud of their national ini- the introduction of GMOs and GM crops into the African
  • 3. Pillay and Da Silva 2399 Table 1. Bio-fuel production in Africa*. Bioethanol Production Biodiesel Production (ML) and Country (ML) and Feedstock Feedstock Kenya 3 ML; Sugarcane Ghana 6 ML. Sugarcane Malawi 6 ML; Sugarcane South Africa 416 ML Sugarcane B and B3 type; Jatropha species Zimbabwe 6 ML; Sugarcane *Extracted and adapted from Dufey (2006).continent. Debate at times is fierce and divisivenotwithstanding that mother nature has influenced the Central hypothesis: The Jatropha Systemtransformation of then wild wheat into the biotech wheat creates a positive reciprocity between energyof today since 10 000 BC. Nevertheless, issues such as production and environment/food production –the longstanding ethical arguments of prioritizing “Food Henning (1996).(Needs) over Fuel” in deference to current “Bio-fuel(Needs) over Food” cannot be glossed over. One such in- Jatropha seeds contain about 35% of non-edible oil.stance has been the use of sorghum normally used to Though it is widely used in traditional folk medicine inproduce beer the average human’s elixir of recreation be- many parts of West Africa as a laxative by rural low-ing channeled to produce a fossil-fuel substitute income communities, its use is discouraged and even(Hazelhurst, 2007; Mayet, 2007). considered as illegal. In Benin and Madagascar, oil from Jatropha has been used to manufacture medical soap. Savon de Marseille. Already, sub-Saharan Africa isBIO-FUELS AND ENERGY SECURITY IN AFRICA considered as a major geo-source for bio-energy trade and regional development and production of bio-fuelsEnergy security (bio or fossil origin) like food security in (Johnson and Matsika, 2006). African expectations areAfrica is a crucial element in sustaining development and that Africa will be the new Bio-fuel continent (Monkey,technological progress in Africa (Leuenberger and 2007).Wohlgemuth, 2006). Some 39 least developed countries Aspects of development benefit from investment in the[LDCs] in the African continent face the never-ending use of the Jatropha system. These are: [i] the use of re-problems of energy and food insecurities. In one case the newable energy, [ii] soil improvement and erosion controlbread-basket of southern Africa has been transformed [iii] promotion of women, and [iv] emergence of a sus-into the bread bowl of the region. Traditional biomass tainable way of life for village farmers through genera-tionfuels available on an insecure and non-sustainable basis of bio-economic resources coming from innovative ruralhelp meet the energy and food cooking requirements of bio-industries and markets. Moreover, farmers have pro-virtually all African LDCs in Africa (Box 2). tected their gardens and food crops through the aesthetic Trees and crops are greening the Sahara (Polgreen, hedge-use of J. curcas as a natural ornamental living2007). Farmers in the Koloma Baba village in the Tahoua fence that protects the environment and domestic farm-region of Niger use simple agricultural practices. Pits in land property. Jatropha, described as the ‘Cinderella ofplots of land are filled with manure just prior to a rainfall. the plant world’ by Palmer (2007) can be one of the solu-The resulting slurry aids regeneration of soil fertility and tions to problems of energy poverty in Africa. Withconversion of barren land into an area of dense increasing worldwide interest in this non-food human andvegetation that with newly planted trees and crops that animal crop, the possibilities are exciting. Jatropha oilfeed the economic, energy, and employment markets of can be used as a diesel substitute for rural electrificationthe village. Amongst the new crop plantations, Jatropha and transport. Its vigorous growth and root systemcurcas, a Latin American plant, widespread throughout protects against soil erosion. Net carbon dioxide (CO2)the arid and semiarid tropical regions of the world, fea- emissions from the Jatropha cycle are zero. It can be thetures prominently. A member of the Euphorbiaceae, this flagship of socio-economic development in the LDCs ofornamental plant naturalised in many tropical areas is a Africa. The expanding spurt of activity (Tables 2 and 3)drought resistant perennial living up to 50 years and in harnessing this green gold throughout Central andgrowing on marginal soils. An inedible plant for humans Southern Africa is transforming the continent’s “hard-and animals, the plant has spread from Mozambique scrabbled ground” face into a fertile vegetation layer thatthroughout the different regions of sub-Saharan Africa. greens desert land in Niger (Polgreen, 2007). J. curcas,
  • 4. 2400 Afr. J. Biotechnol. Box 2. Food Situation in African Regions A. Percentage of population undernourished in African regions Region Percentage undernourished 1969-71 1979-81 1990-92 1996-98 Sub-Saharan Africa 34 37 35 34 Near East and North Africa 25 9 8 10 B: African countries obtaining 70% or more of the diet from cereals, roots and tubers (1996 – 1998) Central Africa Eastern Africa Democratic Republic of Congo (75) Eritrea (78) Ethiopia (79) West Africa Southern Africa Benin (74) Lesotho (80) Burkina Faso (75) Madagascar (74) Ghana (75) Malawi (74) Mali (73) Namibia (79) Niger (74) Zambia (79) Togo (77) th Source: FAO corporate repository --- Assessment of The World Food Security Situation, 27 Session, Rome, 28 May - 1 June 2001: and frost hardy thrives in Zambia and pollution whilst offering impressive environment-friendlyZimbabwe and is ideal for production of bio-diesel qualities across the spectrum of domestic activities toproducts. those ranging from the industrial sector. The benefits of Use of natural, renewable and biodegradable bio-diesel investment in J. curcas are multiple. These range fromand bio-fuels reduce the risks of groundwater and soil eradication of the poverty of job opportunities, the em-
  • 5. Pillay and Da Silva 2401Table 2. Bio-fuel activities in Africa*. Country Activity/goal Socio-economic benefits and opportunitiesAngola Joint Brazilian (Petrobras) - Italian institutes new source of (Eni Spa) - Angola initiative income and job opportunities tapping vast potential of biofuel for Angolan farmers and production. researchers via South-North- 3-partner cooperative benefits are: South cooperation. Brazilian reinforcement of South-South partner provides technical shared technical knowledge; expertise; Italian partner North-South teamwork ensuring provides financial resources biofuel security via Euro-African- for construction of biodiesel South American partnership; and plant and Angolan partner elimination of Angolan rural provides investment openings poverty. for biofuel production and With Portugal a biodiesel plant near export to financial partner. Ambriz in the Bengo province Opening of new labor using oil from the African oil palm markets and rural industries. is scheduled to start in 2008.Burkina Faso Burkina Faso, landlocked nation in West Africa Development of exchange program to enters partnership with Taiwan, China for the train Burkinabese students in Taiwan production of sweet sorghum based-ethanol. to use sweet sorghum for ethanol production.Cameroon Biodiesel production from palm oil Development of oil palm to develop a new biofuel plantations for generation of foreign-exchange market. income and new labor markets.Democratic Biodiesel production from palm oil Production of biodiesel fromRepublic of is envisaged through a Spanish palm oil in line with feasibilityCongo enterprise ‘Aurantia’ to build 4 oil studies dealing with palm mills. logistics, labor opportunities, and environment- friendly infrastructural inputs.Ethiopia Ethiopia-UK collaboration from 2005 results in Reduction in rural poverty the first operational Jatropha nursery. through creation of employment opportunities.Equatorial Development of methanol plant on Bioko Production at a gas-firedGuinea island. power station to supply high- grade electricity.Ghana Oil palm production - Focus on development of establishment of the Bio-fuel regulatory protocols for biofuel Implementation Committee in 2005. production, use of biodiesel and bioalcohol as substitutes for fossil-fuel imports.Kenya In 2006, half a million Jatropha Focus on halting the onset seedlings planted in the Eastern, of desertification and aiding Rift Valley and Nyanza Provinces. reforestation activities. Fossil-fuel substitution in Kenya using biogas. Development of capacity building in fuel substitution through a micro-financing approach in Kenyan schools.
  • 6. 2402 Afr. J. Biotechnol. Table 2. Contd. Mali Mali-FolkCenter Fuels from Women produce locally Agriculture in Communal biodiesel to run posho (corn Technology (FACT Foundation) in meal) mills and produce soaps, Eindhoven, Netherlands; and cosmetics and biofertilizers to the Regional Economic strengthen rural bioeconomic Commission for West Asia (ECOWAS). prosperity. Malawi The Biodiesel Agricultural Benefits: savings in foreign Association encourages farmers exchange expenses; to strengthen the energy sector minimization of pollution of through the planting of Jatropha the environment; and curcas. instituting employment and income generation activities. Mozambique Joint Mozambique- Norway Focus on production of collaboration in 2006 on African bioethanol from sugarcane; of Green Conference “Mozambique biodiesel from copra seed oil, BioFuels” highlights Mozambique cotton seed oil, sunflower strategic location as gateway to seed oil, and Jatropha curcas the landlocked countries of to reduce foreign exchange Malawi, Swaziland, Zimbabwe expenses; minimize pollution and Zambia. of the environment; and expand labor and income generation activities. Namibia A Bio-Oil Energy committee Development of an oversees plantation of about environmental-friendly 63,000 hectares of the Jatropha biofuel. bush by 2013. Niger Reclamation of desert land through Simple innovative village innovative agricultural practices. agricultural practices fuel rural energy and feed markets. South Africa Development of a Jatropha curcas Reduce dependence on high- nursery to produce biodiesel in the cost fossil fuels in the North West Province. transportation sector. On-stream production by Ethanol Use of algae as a feedstock Africa of biofuel at South Africa’s for biofuels production. first bioethanol plant in Bothaville State-of-the art and in the Free State built by a German awareness conferences on the enterprise. beneficial uses of biofuels Development of new technology to [http://www.africanbiofuels. produce biodiesel.]. Organization of “African Biofuels” Reduction in dependence conferences aimed at helping the African on fossil-fuels in the continent on the merits and demerits of biofuel transportation sector. use as an alternative to reliance on fossil-fuel imports. Promotion of liquid biofuels in the City of Cape Town. Fiat will launch its Brazilian-built flex-fuel Uno in South Africa in late 2007 which runs on gasoline, ethanol or a combination of the two fuels as displayed at the Durban Auto Show [Automotive World - March 27, 2007].
  • 7. Pillay and Da Silva 2403Table 2. Contd.Sudan Jatropha -widely encountered in Mainly used as a medicinal the Bahr El Gazal, Bahr El Jebel, plant due to its molluscicidal Kassala, Khartoum, and Kordofan States. properties.Tanzania Transition to Jatropha biofuels is Reduction of dependence on in a nascent stage. fossil-fuel imports and developing ancillary rural industries.Uganda Jatropha grown in rural areas of Reinforces and improves the Karamoja region is an women’s’ welfare and their ideal bioresource for production of participation in rural governance. biodiesel ; Feasibility study shows technical collaboration with molasses are an uneconomical India and Mali is foreseen. feedstock which is used to produce Raw materials used for soap local gin --Uganda Waragi. and lubricant manufacture A flower farm in Mukono in offer new employment Central Uganda has begun opportunities in financing producing biodiesel using Jatropha Mukono’s district markets. curcas. Facilitating access through Provision of energy services in biofuel energy use derived rural areas. from Multi Functional Platforms (Doelle and DaSilva, 2007a).Zambia In the central province of Mkushi, Jatropha is sustainable agriculture of Jatropha planted to produce biodiesel. About 300,000 crops helps in poverty alleviation. small-scale farmers of the National Self- empowerment for farmers, Association for Peasant and Small-Scale provision of new employment Farmers of Zambia are expected to grow opportunities, and conservation of some 150,000 hectares of Jatropha. valuable foreign-exchange reserves. Promotion of bio-energy use in Zambia and establishment of a bio-oil processing plant in Kabwe aids national economic progress. Currently, a total of 400,000 Jatropha plants are being grown by 5,000 farmers in the Chibombo and Kapiri Mposhi districts.Zimbabwe Jatropha curcas (Mujirimono) is a alternative to fossil-fuel used cash crop for biodiesel production. in the transportation sector. A National Biodiesel Feedstock Improvement of Zimbabwes Production Programme focuses on energy security through annual achieving self-sufficiency in contribution of 360 000 tons use of biofuels through Jatropha of Jatropha curcas seeds for curcas plantations. processing into 110 million The National Oil Company of litres of biodiesel by 2010. Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is set to create national employment grow 25,000 Jatropha plant opportunities for research, seedlings to distribute to farmers production, and processing of for the 2006-2007 season. biodiesel. Regional initiativesCommon Fourth COMESA Business Forum Reduction in the dependenceMarket for recommends investment in on fossil-fuels through use ofEastern and biofuels [ Final Communiqué, liquid biofuels in theSouthern May 18 - 19, 2007; Document transportation sector.Africa CBF/IPPSD/1, May2007;(COMESA) Original English].
  • 8. 2404 Afr. J. Biotechnol. Table 2. Contd. Economic Focus on poverty reduction and the Focus on health, rural Community development of national and development, and small-scale of West African regional economic infrastructure. enterprises that contribute to States (ECOWAS) national and regional bioeconomic prosperity. Economic Focus on creation of an awareness Focus on rural development Community of the potential benefits of using and small-scale reduction in of Central clean and green biofuels. dependence on the use of African States (ECCAS) fossil-derived fuels. Desert A collaborative effort convened by International An answer to eradication of the twin scourges Margins Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics ---poverty and environmental degradation Programme (ICRISAT) that unites 9African countries with desert reinforcement of rural energy, food and margins that ring the heart of Africa: Botswana, market enterprises in disadvantaged and (DMP) Burkina Faso, Kenya, Mali, Namibia, Niger, poverty-prone non-urban and nomadic Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. communities. Southern Assessment of economic benefits accruing from Feasibility study for the production and use of African production of biofuels in the SADC region – biofuels – Straight or Recycled vegetable oils Development Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the [SVO or RVO] in the SADC region as an Congo (since 8 September 1997), Lesotho, answer to the Community Madagascar (since 18 August 2005), Malawi, reduction of dependence on (SADC) Mauritius (since 28 August 1995), Mozambique, high-cost imported fossil fuels Namibia (since 31 March 1990 ), Seychelles [joined [ SADC on 8 September 1997 and left on 1 July biiofuels_study_final_report 2004], Swaziland, South Africa .pdf]. (since 30 August 1994), Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. North-South and South-South Cooperation North-South Development of the biodiesel Development of small- and medium-scale Cooperation industry in Lesotho, Tanzania and industries; job opportunities; and acquisition of Zambia. financing through the African Sustainable Fuels Centre, Cape Town, RSA. India helps West Africa develop provision of US $ 250 million from India to biofuels. boost biofuel production in 15 West African countries. Potato Value Chain Development Supported by Common Fund for Commodities, the potato sector in West Africa in West Africa (Guinea-Senegal). is integrated into competitive markets. Green OPEC member countries Creation of mechanisms to; are: Bénin, Burkina Faso, the 1) Share financial burdens of high oil prices in Democratic Republic of the solidarity system that protects ongoing Congo, Gambia; Ghana; Guinée; national projects aimed at Guinea-Bissau;Madagascar;Mali; socio-poverty alleviation; and Morocco;Niger;Sénégal; Sierra 2) Institute financial governance of large- Leone; Togo; Zambia. scale use of biofuels in continental Africa that facilitates African The island states - Mauritius, oil producing countries to Madagascar and Reunion [French invest in biofuels in non-oil territory] in the Indian Ocean producing African team up in a collaborative effort countries. wherein Mauritius, Malaysia and Reduction of crippling China provide the required dependency on rising savoir-faire and technical fossil-fuels oil costs that erode expertise whilst Madagascar and the bioeconomic prosperity of Réunion provide land for plantations. These island states.
  • 9. Pillay and Da Silva 2405 Table 2. Contd. Globalized Cooperation International Established after meetings in Promote use of sugarcane Sugarcane Mount Edgecombe, RSA (July biomass residual products for Biomass 2006) and Alagoas, Brazil production of bioenergy and Utilization (November, 2006) under umbrella biofuels. Consortium of the International Society of (ISBUC) Sugarcane Technologists with representatives from institutions in 8 sugar-producing countries: Australia, Brazil, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Thailand, USA. Source: Compiled by E.J. da Silva. Table 3. Non-edible and edible oils possessing bio-diesel potential. Type Oleaginous Plant Sources Remark Copaiba An oleoresin tapped from the Once known in Africa, now used plant Copaifera. in Brazil as a source of biodiesel. Jatropha oil Jatropha curcas is the most Considered for use in several widely used species from African countries as a biofuel. amongst the over 80 species of the Jatropha plant. Milk bush Synadenium granti from the Under study in Brazil as a source Family Euphorbiaceae – a of biofuel. poisonous plant widely found in Africa. Edible oils Cottonseed oil Gossypium herbaceum Major food oil used in food processing. Palm oil Elaeis guineensis Tropical oil now tapped to make biofuel. Olive oil Olea europaea Used in cooking, cosmetics, . soaps, and as lighting fuel for traditional oil lamps.powerment of the feminine labour force in villages, to the ting in the changing face of agriculture. With the advent ofgeneration of independent income resources that sustain nutraceuticals agriculture was the new health sector.feminine human dignity and financial independence Today with increasing use of bio-refineries especially in[United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) United the USA, the European Union and in the BICS [Brazil;Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), India, China and South Africa] group, agriculture is now2001]. the new energy sector as well as the fulcrum of a Recent times are witness to fluctuating energy prices in “nouvelle économie” (Le Monde, 2007).upward spiraling costs. World-wide, climate change andpollution of the aerial environment continues with dis-astrous consequences coming from dependence on finite BIO-REFINERY CONCEPTfossil-fuels. Mindful of the coming positive and negativeimpacts of the era of “l’après pétrole” foreseen to begin The bio-refinery concept involves the integration oflater in this century several countries are already invest- bioconversion processes and equipment to produce bio-
  • 10. 2406 Afr. J. Biotechnol.fuels and chemicals from biomass within a singular large- est supplier of bio-diesel with Norwegian, Indian andscale facility (Doelle and DaSilva, 2007b). A variety of British companies moving quickly to secure massivebio-industrial process tributaries yielding multiple bio- tracts of land on the continent for Jatropha plantations.based products and bio-fuels are the bases of the bio-refinery thesis. The bio-refinery concept is similar tocurrent day petrorefineries that produce multiple fuels CONCERNS: JATROPHA, BIO-FUELSand products from petroleum oil. The bio-refinery con-cept is of relevance to rural and village communities Concerns have emerged on the use of Jatropha and corngiven that all waste is recycled. The cyclic nature of the as sources to feed the bio-fuel industry. The northernzero-emission biotechnology process ensures that all hemisphere turns to corn for the production of bio-ethanolcomponents can provide the 6Fs- fertilizer, fiber, food, whilst the southern hemisphere turns to the inediblefeed, fuel and filling materials needed for routine daily life. Jatropha. The transformation of land that yields food Domestic security is guaranteed by reducing depen- crops into acreage that yields fuel crops needs attentiondence on foreign oil. Bio-fuels from energy crops as the transportation sector gains in priority in relation toincluding sugarcane, corn, soybeans, and oil palms aid in bigger airports and highway construction. Jatropha – thehelping fight global warming. African countries contribute agro-fuel plant for the non-industrialized nations grows onless than 1% to global CO2 (Dufey, 2006). Bio-fuel wasteland but needs time to be available continuously inproduction will further help with fuel security and could be critical mass. The rising costs of imports of fossil-fuelsexported to developed countries. Such visionary action are impacting seriously on the national economies of es-would result in valuable foreign-exchange earnings. The pecially the developing world. In the developed world, theglobal bio-fuels market offers important opportunities in emphasis is on increasing use of clean and green bio-bringing together the economic, environmental and social fuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Southern Africaagenda both in developing countries and globally (Dufey, is expected to be the launching pad for new export2006). International trade barriers, especially tariffs and markets within the framework of bio-energy trade and re-subsidies, need to be relaxed to enable the developing gional development [(Economic Commission for Africaworld reap the benefits of the emerging bio-fuels trade. (ECA), 2006; Johnson and Matsika, 2006).Certification schemes need to be established foraccountability of the environmental and social conditionsin such countries. Poor working conditions associated RAINBOW BIOTECH – A Portal for African Sustaina-with the cultivation of some energy crops such as sugar- ble Development and Bio-economic Prosperitycane and palm oil and large-scale bio-fuel productioncould result in serious environmental consequences The southernmost country of Africa with veins of diamond(Dufey, 2006). and arteries of gold is a land of bio- and unique cultural Cellulosic ethanol derived from virtually any plant diversity in its fauna and flora (features characteristic of 4matter including farm waste looks particularly promising. other countries: Brazil, China, India and Indonesia), itsCellulosic conversion technology could reduce the cost of geography and topography, people, and political history.producing ethanol by as much as 60 cents per gallon by Amongst all the countries in continental Africa, the2015 as forecast by the US Department of Energy. Green Republic of South Africa (RSA) by virtue of its past andgroups see cellulosic ethanol as a carbon neutral energy present shared history has been at the forefront in thesource to fight the build up of atmospheric carbon dioxide promotion of biotechnology (Table 4) to achieve nationalresponsible for global warming. The more important need goals [Department of Science and Technology (DST),is to create an awareness of these parameters in the 2001, 2002). The skeins of academic commitment, res-African communities and with policy-makers in order to ponsibilities and accountability have strengthened the fa-leapfrog the growing gap that anchors the existing divide bric of RSA national development that enriches interna-between the industrialized and the least developed tional cooperation through for example, the IBSA [India,nations in continental Africa. Brazil and South Africa] initiative for international co- Rising oil prices and growing climate change concerns operation [Research Information Systems (RIS), 2006).are driving investment and innovation in the bio-fuels The possibility of a novel bio-fuel industry is now be-sector. Developed and developing countries increasingly coming a reality [Department of Minerals and Energylook towards renewable bio-energy to replace fossil fuels (DME), Republic of South Africa (RSA), 2006).(Table 2). Bio-fuels, when burned, have fewer emissionsthan traditional hydrocarbon-based fuels. Furthermore,bio-fuels, generally derived from plants, absorb carbon CONCLUSIONSfrom the atmosphere as they grow and offer the potentialto help mitigate climate change. According to Monkey Poverty and its offspring – hunger – feed rebellions and(2007), Africa could potentially become the world’s bigg- revolutions that impact on the stability of national and
  • 11. Pillay and Da Silva 2407 Table 4. National Republic of South Africa (RSA) biotech excellence and contribution to emergence of a better Africa. Activity Achievements Remarks Biotechnology 106 companies [inclusive of 47 core Traditional brewing and food excluded; enterprises and 59 non-core biotech majority of core companies are in health companies/NGOs] are in Gauteng (39%) and support services (13%) with (41%), the Western Cape (37%) and near even representation in the Kwazulu Natal (15%). environmental, food, plant, animal and industrial sectors. Research Groups 679 research groups in SA with Stakeholders in human health, plant, food breakdown as: 1)Biotech 296 and beverage sectors were from the 2)Potential Biotech 205 3)Biotech Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal services 178 and the Free State. Biotech relevant projects 911 projects were in sectors of: human Projects conducted primarily by Western heath, animal health, plant biotech, the Cape, Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and the food industry, the industrial, food and Free State. environmental sectors. Human Resources 1 020 skilled persons involved with 950 Nearly all R&D personnel possess coming from academic sector. required training. Biotech Patents 200 biotech patents filed with the South Deals with bio-intellectual property capital African Register of Copyright Designs of RSA. and Patents. Support structures Regional Innovation Centres (BRICS); National Bioinformatics Network, etc. [Source: http///è/37:3603699&.pdf].international governance. Several of the least-developed sustainable development. Biotechnology, an importantcountries of sub-Saharan Africa have low-income earning tool for economic and sustainable development throughgroups and are prone to fossil-fuel energy poverty and NEPAD envisages partnerships and participation offood deficiency. These energy- and food-deficient nations stakeholders for economic advancement at the village,with just the bare biotechnological minimum in savoir- urban and national levels (Pillay and DaSilva, 2001). Thefaire to feed themselves are perpetually vulnerable and emergence of “Rainbow Biotech” indisputably can servedisadvantaged in the global arena of governance, em- as a catalytic portal amongst others for overall continentalployment and trade. Poverty, an integral component of development (Louët, 2006; Pincock, 2006; RIS, 2006).their national fabric, is the last socio-economic diseasethat sows social unrest and erosion of human-powerresources in these countries. It devalues and endangers ACKNOWLEDGMENTSthe bio-safety and bio-security of biodiversity and thelegacy of the environment to be bequeathed to future The authors acknowledge Dr. C. Montague (LifeLab, Dur-generations. ban) and Prof. B.A. Prior (University of Stellenbosch) for Lack of respect for gender equivalence, child labour their advice and comments in the pre-reviewing of thisexploitation, bonded labour slavery, discrimination and contribution.racism in their varied nuances need to be eradicated. Thedelivery instruments are political will, provision of educa- REFERENCEStion, and investment in low-cost high-quality multipurposebiotechnologies such as the integrated biogas systems Department of Minerals and Energy (DME), RSA (2006). Draft biofuelsand the recycling of wastewaters. These simple to imple- industrial strategy of the Republic of South Africa, November, p.15. Department of Science and Technology (DST), RSA (2001). A nationalment small- or village-scale bioprocesses as proven in biotechnology strategy for South Africa, June, p. 82.Brazil, China and India uplift human dignity, empower []endeavour, enthusize the morale spirit and conserve Department of Science and Technology (DST), RSA (2002). Southvalues. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction of Africa’s national research and development strategy, August, p. 82. Doelle HW, Da Silva EJ (2007a). Biorefineries - concept fortime well-spent in acquiring food, feed, fibre and fertilizer sustainability and human development In: Biotechnology [Eds. Doellefor one’s family in an urban, rural or village settings HW, DaSilva EJ], in Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)indicate that Africa is setting its own biotech agenda for developed under the auspices of the UNESCO, EOLSS Publishers,
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