Making the Rice Industry in Senegal more Energy Efficient

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The West Africa Regional Innovation Hub (WA RIH) joined forces with the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) to facilitate access to green financing, support mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and strengthen competitiveness of the rice sector in Senegal. Rice represents one of Senegal’s staple crops. A more efficient and sustainable rice production could improve food security in Senegal as well as stimulating economic growth. The newly launched project builds on GGGI’s experience promoting productive uses of renewable energy in the rice value chain in Senegal. The partnership furthers the green transformation of the Senegalese rice industry by mobilizing financing for the introduction of renewable energy and energy efficient solutions.

The GGGI is an international, inter‑governmental organization operating in 30 countries, and across four high transformation potential priority areas, including energy and water. Since 2012, GGGI has worked to support and promote the mainstreaming of environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive green growth, using an approach focused on the creation of sustainable and long lasting domestic technical and institutional capacity and the development of bankable projects.

The agri-food sector in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)      plays a      crucial       role in achieving food security, not to mention its economic importance. The sector employs around 55% of the population and contributes about 30% of the GDP per year, but it has a high dependency on fossil fuel use. In Senegal, the agricultural sector accounts for almost half of the country’s GHG emissions, making it the largest contributor.

Rice is one of the staple crops in West Africa, while Senegal is one of the largest rice consumers in West Africa. The Senegal River Valley accounts for nearly half of Senegal’s total rice production. Yet, most of the country’s demand for rice is met by imports. Addressing such challenges as high processing and logistics costs, high energy prices,  interruptions in the grid’s energy supply      can boost local production of rice. In Senegal, where the cost of electricity is among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa due to the reliance on imported petroleum products for energy generation, energy efficiency measures and access to renewables hold promise of mitigating financial implications of expensive energy supply.

From 2019 to 2020, GGGI’s advice helped identify opportunities for the use of renewable energy for improved agricultural production and resilience to climate change in the rice value chain. Building on GGGI’s previous work in  sustainable energy for Senegal River Valley rice mills, the newly launched      “Increasing Energy Efficiency and Access to International Climate Finance for Rice Processors in the Senegal River Valley” project by WE4F West Africa RIH and GGI will support five Senegalese rice mills. The project will  introduce renewable energy solutions and energy efficiency management plans and contribute to mobilizing green investment in Senegal, helping the country achieve its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)  for the Paris Agreement. The initiative envisions the transformation of a more resilient and sustainable rice industry in the Senegal River Valley. The sustainable upscaling of innovations is seen as an instrumental component of addressing challenges in the water-energy-food nexus and supporting the holistic management of natural resources and ecosystems.

The approach ultimately aims to have a lasting impact on base of the pyramid women and men by increasing food production and processing along the value chain. A more sustainable and efficient usage of water and energy will also lead to increased income for stakeholders along the value chain. The project has already identified five rice mills operating in the Senegal River Valley to support them with energy audits and the mobilization of financing for the introduction of renewable energy solutions and energy efficiency management plans.