Standard Bank Biomass Fair 2023- Igniting the growth of the Biomass Sector

Namibia Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG), the Charcoal Association of Namibia (CAoN), and the Namibian University of Science and Technology (NUST) successfully hosted the three -day Standard Bank Biomass Fair 2023, which included the Research Symposium, Biomass Industry Conference, Expo, Exclusive networking event and Biomass Music Concert, on the 7 – 9 of September 2023 at the Gross Barman Resort in Okahandja. The event, held under the theme “Igniting the Growth of the Biomass Sector in Namibia”.

The Standard Bank Biomass Fair 2023 brought together industry experts, researchers, and both public and private stakeholders for knowledge exchange, networking, and the showcasing of cutting-edge harvesting and processing technologies for bush-biomass.

The event kicked off with a Research Symposium. In the opening session, Professor Mapani Benjamin from NUST welcomed guests and speakers and extends a special thank you to the international speakers from Europe, US, Japan and South Africa.

“The biomass sector in Namibia has the potential to create thousands of new jobs and generate millions of dollars in revenue. It is more than just an industry; it’s a way to combat climate change, promote sustainable development, and create a brighter future for all Namibians,” emphasised Dr Colin Stanley, the NUST Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Partnerships, during his keynote remarks. He further stated that the SteamBioAfrica Initiative which explores Torre faction of biomass to create a sustainable fuel. “SteamBio’s torrefied new fuel is likely to ignite the domestic fuel energy market.”

The Biomass Industry Conference Kicked off with the key themes of the conference being “connection” and “diversity.” Colin Lindeque, Board Chair of the Namibia Biomass Industry Group (N-BiG), highlighted the increasing complexity and diversity of the Namibian biomass industry in his opening speech.

The Industry Conference began with a session on “Environmental Sustainability and Best Practices.” Colin Knott, a rangeland management expert, shared insights from a comprehensive best practice study conducted across 30 sites in five biomes. The study revealed success stories in land regeneration and emphasized the importance of addressing heavily encroached bush to avoid financial strain. Despite the challenges posed by diverse biomes, management approaches, bush control methods, and grazing management, a best practice guide is set to be published by the end of 2023.

Mr Timo Mufeti, the Environmental Commissioner, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Environment, Forestry & Tourism, emphasized the government’s willingness to collaborate with the industry to responsibly exploit bush biomass resources for rangeland restoration while ensuring environmental well-being. Delegates recognized the potential for the energy market to significantly expand biomass utilization. Several wood pellet projects for export markets are in development, indicating growing global interest in Namibia’s untapped bioenergy potential. Additionally, there are industrial operations in Namibia using bush biomass to replace fossil fuels for process heat. Small-scale energy generation systems powered by biomass could address rural electrification challenges, and the NamPower Otjikoto Biomass Project is progressing toward financial closure.

Standard Bank’s acting CEO, Nelson Lucas, expressed the bank’s commitment to sustainable energy solutions and the vital role of the biomass industry in promoting a greener future, explaining why the bank was the Diamond Sponsor of the event.

Speakers also acknowledged the GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilization (BCBU) project’s significance in shaping the sector and promoting cooperation between Namibia and Germany in advancing social and economic development. The project has attracted substantial investment into the biomass sector.

The participants enjoyed an exclusive networking event after the conference which offered a relaxed and inviting atmosphere, specifically for biomass buyers and sellers to engage with one another. This year was sparked with a 2-day Expo which had 60 exhibitors which included technology demonstrators and around 300 visitors for both days. The visitors danced under the stars during our first ever Biomass Music concert which had various artist such as Gazza, Suzy Eises, Vaughn Arhrens, Hannes Kaufmann, Dj Cello and hosted by the amazing Uejaa Kazondunge allowing guests to unwind and celebrate.

The organizers extend their gratitude towards their associate partners and event sponsors. Our Associate Partners: the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation (BCBU) Project, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH; SteamBioAfrica, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme; Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR); Namibia Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC); and the German Bioenergy Association (BBE). Our Event Sponsors: Diamond sponsor Standard Bank Namibia; Gold sponsor DHG Vertriebs- & Consultinggesellschaft mbH; Silver sponsor O&L Organic Energy Solutions and Bronze sponsors Agribank, CMO, FSC, SUREBRAAI, SafariBraai and E360 for their valuable contributions towards making this event a success

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