Togo has opened a Lomé University biogas research laboratory to deepen awareness about climate change and its effects on land use in West Africa.

Togolese scientists are studying at the Lomé University in Togo and the German Biomass Research Center (DBFZ) in Leipzig, Germany, to ensure that the infrastructure is used independently and sustainably.

A joint research centre – West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) – was established by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2012 as part of the German Federal Government’s Africa Strategy.

A total of eleven African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Togo) are integrated into this network.

While each country pursues regionally adapted research priority on the different aspects of climate change such as civil security or land use, bioenergy plays a particularly important role in Togo.

BMBF has funded the Renewable Energy Development Project on High Technology Laboratory Construction for Production of Biogas, and Up-to-date Efficient Cooking Tool Mechanism Implementation at the University of Lomé.

The pilot project will identify new research activities in the field of renewable energies in West Africa, with the goal of solving the kinds of energy deficiency problems facing countries in the sub-region.

Speaking at the launch of the laboratory the Vice-Chancellor of Lomé University, Professor Koffi Akpagana, affirmed the institution’s commitment to continuity and development: “To our German and WASCAL partners, I would like to reassure them that we firmly believe that the growth and development of our country cannot be envisaged without a massive investment in renewable energies,” said Akpagana.

The Director of the WASCAL Graduate Studies Programme at the University of Lomé, Professor Komi Agboka, express gratitude to the partners for the initiative.

“Togo has, through WASCAL, and in collaboration with the German Biomass Research Centre, substantially benefited from the technical and financial support from the BMBF in the implementation of the project called Development of research and technology demonstration capacities for the use of the potential of Biomass in Togo-TOGOLAB, which is the first axis of the programme for the development of renewable energies in Togo,” said Agboka.

Access to energy in Togo is less than 10% in rural energy. Much of this energy is generated in the form of traditional biomass such as charcoal, firewood, agricultural residues and manure.

Increasing the effective and efficient use of biomass for energy purposes could become a tool for development and poverty reduction for the entire region.

The laboratory will enable researchers at the University of Lomé to independently test the country’s agricultural residues with regards to their suitability for biogas production. Developing alternatives to the use of agricultural residues could contribute significantly to stopping the high deforestation rate in the country.

Much of the cooking that happens in rural areas use wood gas. Already Togolese people know that after the gasification process the coal formed can be reused as fuel or as vegetable coal in agriculture for soil improvement.

The biogas laboratory at the university though will also investigate whether the introduction of pyrolysis cookers could reduce health hazards during the cooking process to by reducing emissions compared to traditional combustion.