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UNU-WIDER Are Biofuels Good for African Development?

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WP/110 Are Biofuels Good for African Development? An Analytical Framework with Evidence from Mozambique and Tanzania

Many low income countries in Africa are optimistic that producing biofuels domestically will not only reduce their dependence on imported fossil fuels, but also stimulate economic development, particularly in poorer rural areas. Skeptics, on the other hand, view biofuels as a threat to food security in the region and as a land-grabbing opportunity for foreign investors. As a result of this ongoing debate, national biofuels task forces have been asked to evaluate both the viability of domestic biofuels production and its broader implications for economic development. To guide these complex evaluations, this paper presents an analytical framework that prioritizes different aspects of a comprehensive national assessment and identifies suitable evaluation methods. The findings from recent assessments for Mozambique and Tanzania are used to illustrate the framework. While these two country studies found that biofuels investments could enhance development, their experiences highlight potential tradeoffs, especially at the macroeconomic and environmental levels, where further research is needed.
WIDER Working Paper
WP/110 Are Biofuels Good for African Development? An Analytical Framework with Evidence from Mozambique and Tanzania
Channing Arndt, Siwa Msangi, James Thurlow
Publication date:
October 2010
ISBN 13 Web:
Copyright holder:
Copyright year:
biofuels, economic development, food security, poverty, Africa
Q56, Q42, O44, O55
Development strategy and climate change / Climate change and mitigation policy
UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges the financial contributions to the research programme by the governments of Denmark (Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Finland (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), Sweden (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency—Sida) and the United Kingdom (Department for International Development—DFID).
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