Pioneering Africa Venture Safeguards Lives, Dramatically Reduces Emissions

Thousands of charcoal-burning cookstoves in Mozambique, Africa will be replaced with cleaner ethanol stoves, thanks to an innovative business model being launched by leading cleantech company Novozymes (CPH:NZYM B) and CleanStar Ventures, a green venture development group.

Announced at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, the companies are jointly establishing CleanStar Mozambique, which will safeguard lives endangered from charcoal smoke, increase farmer incomes by up to 500%, save thousands of acres of forest every year, and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

CleanStar Mozambique will work with small farmers to implement sustainable farming practices, create a food and ethanol cooking fuel production facility, and lay the groundwork for economically and ecologically sustainable communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. The business will address a range of problems, including land degradation, poor health, and energy poverty.

"Agriculture in the developing world holds an enormous potential that can be realized with the assistance of biotechnology," says Novozymes Executive Vice President Thomas Nagy. "Through this partnership, local communities in Africa will be able to produce more food and energy while at the same time improving their health, restoring forests, cleaning the air, and growing the economy."

Under CleanStar Mozambique’s business model, thousands of farmers in Mozambique will have the opportunity to transition from charcoal production and slash-and-burn agriculture to cultivating a diverse range of crops and trees, which will significantly improve their income and nutrition levels while rehabilitating degraded soils and enhancing biodiversity.

Whatever the families do not consume themselves, they will sell to CleanStar Mozambique. The company will produce a range of food products as well as an ethanol-based cooking fuel made from cassava, which will be sold into urban markets.

Problems of Charcoal Smoke

Throughout Africa, over 80% of urban families buy charcoal to cook their food. Cooking food indoors using solid fuels such as charcoal is linked to about 1.7 million premature deaths across the world from indoor air pollution.

Charcoal use is also a major driver of the mass deforestation across Africa, where every year hundreds of millions of trees are cleared to produce charcoal. 

Inefficient cooking stoves are responsible for 25% of black carbon soot, a potent climate pollutant that’s causing up to half the warming in the Arctic region, and also much of the warming in the Himalayan glaciers, which are warming two to three times faster than the global average.

Dark soot particles sitting on white ice absorbs sunlight and thus reduces the light that’s reflected back into space, accelerating warming on Earth. 

Reducing black carbon soot and other short-lived climate forcers is viewed as one of the most important ways of of holding off climate change tipping points. It would cut the rate of global warming by 50% – increasing the chances of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees C, or even 1.5C. We would slow the advance of climate change by decades.

The Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves is part of the Global Clinton Initiative and spearheaded by the UN Foundation.

Today, the European Parliament called for fast action to reduce this non-CO2 climate forcers.

Business Plan

By 2014, CleanStar Mozambique intends to supply 20% of local households in Mozambique’s capital Maputo with a clean and competitive alternative to charcoal, which will improve family health and protect 9,000 acres of indigenous forest a year.

"This business model can be replicated and scaled throughout the developing world," says Thomas Nagy. "With CleanStar Mozambique, we hope to show how biotechnology can catalyze the development of agriculture, food, and ethanol industries in developing countries, and create new bio-based markets that benefit local communities and the environment."

Producing food and energy side-by-side offers one of the best formulas for boosting countries’ food and energy security while simultaneously reducing poverty, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

CleanStar Ventures and Novozymes are working with a number of other companies in the business. ICM, Inc., a process design and construction company, is providing the food and ethanol cooking fuel production facility. They are in advanced discussions with Bank of America Merrill Lynch about serving as Carbon Finance Associate to help maximize the monetary value of the project’s carbon emission reductions.


Novozymes is one of numerous top renewable energy stocks covered in our Progressive Investor newsletter.

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