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Potential of Liquid Biofuels in Kenya


Stephen Karekezi


The economy of Kenya, a net importer of oil, is experiencing the adverse impact of high and unstable oil prices. In 2011, 25.1% of the country’s import bill went to petroleum. To increase its energy independence, Kenya has begun the development of first-generation liquid biofuel production. The annual potential for ethanol production in Kenya based on the amount of molasses produced in 2008, is approximately 40 million litres. This is equivalent to slightly over 8% of Kenya’s petroleum consumption in 2008. If fully harnessed, this potential ethanol production could reduce the cost of Kenya’s petroleum imports by approximately US$ 21 million per annum.

The biodiesel industry is still in an embryonic stage of development. Kenya, however, had a burgeoning ethanol transport fuel industry a couple of decades ago that was largely abandoned after the collapse of world oil prices.

Current efforts are largely aimed at developing Jatropha as a biofuel source and restarting the ethanol transport fuel subsector through regulatory and policy initiatives. This study discusses the drivers of these biofuel policy initiatives and proposes options for building on this impetus to facilitate expeditious realisation of the benefits of a viable and sustainable biofuel sector in Kenya.

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