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We propose cassava-nol to tackle the massive deforestation, and build community resilience to increasing droughts, floods and degradation.



Sierra Leone has lost 95% of the forest cover, since 1970. Deforestation is contributing to carbon emissions, degradation and loss of the rich bio-diversity, natural habitats and ecosystems. Deforestation is contributing to increasing seasonal droughts, hot weather, loss of fresh water, shifting rainfall patterns, flooding, erosion, loss of soil fertility and humanitarian disasters. Most of the forests in Bo District are degrading to grasslands. 

Energy poverty is the main driver of deforestation because 94% of the households use firewood charcoal for cooking. Rural youth and women farmers are the main agents of deforestation because they produce and sell the charcoal and firewood. They are also the most vulnerable to climate shocks because they entirely depend on rain-fed agriculture and other natural resources for their livelihoods. The forests are giving way mainly due to the increasing demand for firewood and charcoal. 

Green Africa responds to deforestation and climate shocks as a business opportunity. The venture will provide secure access to ethanol cook stoves for 25,000 households, save 9.125 million trees per year, build community resilience and sustainable rural economic development by empowering 250 single mother farmers and rural youth through cassava-nol, a forest-friendly, renewable energy for cooking. 

What actions do you propose?

We propose cassava-nol for households as a more sustainable alternative source of energy for cooking to replace firewood and charcoal; and cassava farm business for female and youth farmers as a resilient cash crops. 

Green Africa will produce and market cassava-nol as a climate resileince product. Cassava-nol is bio-ethanol for cooking, produced from cassava cultivated on degraded lands by women and youth farmers in climate vulnerable communities in Sierra Leone. Cassava makes good feedstock for bio-ethanol production. It is better than sugar cane, corn and sorghum, due to its high convertible starch content, low input requirement, adaptability to droughts, floods and degraded lands. Furthermore, cassava is a traditional crop cultivated all over Africa, mainly by female farmers in mixed farming systems. Bio-ethanol of about 50% alcohol is suitable and safe fuel for cook stoves.

Female farmers and rural youth should take up cassava farm business as a sustainable livelihood activity and business opportunity. The venture will ensure that it selects high starch content varieties and supports female farmers and rural youth to produce more cassava for food and for feedstock.

Households should adopt clean cook stove and cassava-nol as fuel for cooking, heating and lighting.

Who will take these actions?

Green Africa (Sierra Leone) Limited will lead this action. Green Africa is a new company that specializes in the use of cassava in community resilience and renewable energy. Green Africa regards itself as a climate solver. 

Ethanol plant builders and stoves manufacturers will be key partners. Ethanol plant builders will build plants designed for cassava feedstock. Stoves manufacturers will design and supply stoves that will be customized for cassava-based bio-ethanol.

250 Women and youth farmers climate vulnerable communities in Bo District will be key partners as feedstock suppliers. They will cultivate 1,000 hectares of cassava plantations under contract and also participate in the rigorous data collection to test whether cassava is a resilience crop.

25,000 households in Sierra Leone will be regarded as key actors. They will be subscribed as consumers of ethanol cook stoves and participants in the rigorous data collection on the testing of ethanol clean stoves.  

Where will these actions be taken?

The venture will prototype or pilot and tested in Bo District, one of the most climate vulnerable districts in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone is the second most climate vulnerable country in the world, due to the lack of adaptive capacity.

The action will specifically target Bo District, because of the following reasons:

1. Bo Districts is increasing hit by droughts, floods and forest degradation

2. Bo District is the most well-known for for cassava production and processing, and

3 Bo city is urbanizing at an alarming rate, putting more pressure on the forests for firewood and charcoal production.

After the start-up, the action will then be scaled up across Sierra Leone, and further into Liberia and Guinea, two of the neighboring countries that have similar climate and energy poverty profiles as Sierra Leone.

During scale-up, Green Africa will target the production of 20 million liters for 100,000 households yearly after year 3.

What are other key benefits?

The project will have huge environmental, economic, social and health benefits.

The project will: -:

1. Sequester 200,750 metric tons of carbon per year

2. Support 1,000 acres of cassava plantations owned by female farmers and rural youth and build their capacity to to adapt to droughts, floods and degradation 

3. Bring health benefits by removing health-threatening pollution from kitchens

4. Create access to clean technology and energy security for 25,000 households, by promoting technology transfer to developing country communities. 

Most attractively, the low production cost of cassava will help the venture to sell at cheap price and make profit. Cassava-nol will be sold for US $0.25 per liter (per day), cheaper than firewood ($0.30) and charcoal ($0.35) per day.

What are the proposal’s costs?

Green Africa is seeking a mix of private equity, leasehold and grant financing. The total cost of project is US$ 375,000 million.

This comprises:-

1. An equity ask of US $150,000 (40%) from private equity investors to cover staffing and management costs;

2. Debt of US $200,000 (53.3%) from leasing companies and climate technology investors to acquire an ethanol plant, tractors and vehicles; and

3. A a grant request of US$25,000 (6.66%) to support female-owned and youth-owned cassava plantations and poor households to access clean stoves from philanthropic investors.

The project estimates to make US$1.250 million within the start-up period by producing 5 million liters within 3 years, and selling at 0.25 per liter. 

Time line

The period for start-up is 3 years.

Within this period the venture will prototype and test, and determine the scaling path, through both the private and public sectors. 

Cassava production is already underway by 250 female and youth farmers. Over 200,000 hectares of cassava farms are produced annually in Sierra Leone. There will be enough cassava for production from year 1. The construction of the plant will take up to 6 months, within which period the venture will also be establishing partnerships with clean cook stove companies and projects. Farmers will receive support to produce special varieties and quantities of cassava for both food in communities and feedstock for cassava-nol production.

Production of bio-ethanol will start by the end of year 1.  The venture will be able to produce the target volume within 3 years. 

Related proposals


Assessment of Solid Woodfuel Situation in Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso (Arevalo et al 2016), BioCarbon and Rural Development in West Africa (BIODEV), University of Helsinki, Finland et al 

Cassava in Africa (Hillocks undated Chapter 3),Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, UK

Cassava as Feedstock for Ethanol Production in South Africa (Marx and Nquma 2013), Energy Systems Focus Area, School of Chemical and Minerals Engineering, North-West University, South Africa. 

Energy-Efficient Production of Cassava-Based Bio-Ethanol (Qian et al 2014), Process and Environmental Technology Laboratory, Department of Chemical Engineering, College of Life Science and Technology, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, Beijing, China 

Clean Burning Ethanol Stoves (Project Gaia undated), U.S. ‐ Project Gaia, Inc.

Sierra Leone Climate Action Report (Resilience Policy Team, Irish Aid, November, 2015)  

National Population and Housing Census (Statistics Sierra Leone 2004)

The Energy Policy for Sierra Leone (Cemmats 2004), Government of Sierra Leone, Ministry of Energy and Power, Study Supported by UNECA