Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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Case Study 7

Butane Gas Stove in Senegal
Sukumar Devotta and Saroja Asthana
National Chemical Laboratory
Pune 411 008, India

Keywords: Senegal, technology diffusion, energy efficiency, cookstoves, fuelwood, N S

This is an energy sector case study and it involves Total, Totalgaz, the Senegal government, the European Development Fund, about 50 distribution companies, and local communities. The consumption of fuel wood was leading to deforestation and desertification in Senegal. But the introduction of butane as a household fuel with a suitable energy efficient stove helped to turn the tide. Since 1974, the sales of these stoves had enabled much of the population to benefit from this modern fuel. The programme has helped the government in reducing fuelwood energy consumption. The stoves are made by semi-industrial companies that also contribute to the economic development of the country.

Senegal is a small country in the African Sahel. For many years, Senegal had been trying to curb the logging that was seriously depleting the country's forests and its limited supply of wood fuel. The government had also tried several means of protecting the forest from the charcoal burners that supplied most of the fuel consumed by Senegal's urban population. Government tried reforestation, establishment of plantations, the introduction of better carbonisation techniques, improved household cooking stoves to make more efficient use of wood fuel supplies, and the substitution of wood fuels by peat, paraffin, and butane. However, these efforts met with limited success due to financial constraints and lack of follow-up actions. The only effort that produced a significant result was the promotion of butane as a household fuel with a suitable stove in 1974.

Totalgaz was a leader in the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) market. The Senegalese Government subsidised the use of butane gas and waived a levy on bottles or accessories. The subsidy fell from the equivalent of US$ 17 million a year in 1989 to less than US$ 5 million a year in 1992. The European Development Fund financed the three year Regional Gas Programme, from 1989 to 1992, with more than US$ 14 million. EDF also financed the training of workers in the region. As a result of this financing, the retail distribution has become a flourishing business. Butane was selected as the effective fuel because it was cheap and easy to transport. The first stove design made use of a 2.7 kg gas bottle. However, it was soon withdrawn because the stove could be knocked down easily and gas did not last for long. Total designed a new stove, which was simple to use, stable, cheap and met all the cooking requirements. The stove had a long lasting 6 kg valve type camper bottle, topped with a special burner. The unit cost in 1993 was the equivalent of US$ 16. This new gas stove, 'Nopale', was a success and is now an everyday part of the Senegalese way of life.

Technology cooperation had allowed Senegal to diversify energy sources as well as protect the environment. LPG is now widely used as the domestic fuel in place of wood and charcoal, reducing deforestation. Charcoal consumption of 400,000 tonnes a year was reduced to about 100,000 tonnes a year due to the butane programme, saving 20,000 hectares of Senegalese forests. Supply of LPG in the 6 kg bottle became a main activity of Totalgaz in Senegal. Sales of Nopale cooking gas rose from 402 tonnes in 1983 to more than 22,360 tonnes in 1994. The bottles and the burners for the Nopale were imported, but stands were made locally to reduce costs. The butane programme produced productive partnerships with local people and led to more job opportunities.

Lessons Learned
Technology transfer from a developed country partner to developing countries will be successful if the technology is wanted by the recipient countries. The oil company Total, the main stakeholder, had invested in developing a simple and new energy efficient cooking stove for the local market, which had become a part of every household. The close working relationship between the various stakeholders is an important issue, even if the technology being transferred is a simple one.

Mobil in Indonesia. 1995: In The Oil Industry Experience - Technology Cooperation and Capacity Building: Contribution to Agenda 21. UNEP and IPIEECA, London.

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