SEAF (Sustainable Energy Advisory Facility) project (UNEP Risoe Centre & UNEP Paris)

This was MFC's first Jatropha project, implemented in cooperation with the DNE (National Directorate of Energy), the CNESOLER (National Centre for Solar and Renewable Energy) & AMC (Ateliers Militaires Centraux de Markala - Central Military Workshops of Markala, one of Mali's leading metal workshops). The main activities of the project were:

  • Analysis of barriers to widespread adoption of jatropha multi-functional platform technology
  • Technology transfer for development of a Jatropha press in Mali
  • Development of a sustainable management system for multi-functional platforms

The SEAF intervention was considering Jatropha oil multi-function platforms which had been installed in the southern and western regions of Mali, as projects by GTZ (German Technical Co-operation), FENR (Women and New and Renewable Energies) and CNESOLER. These installations were experiencing mainly organisational difficulties which were severely limiting their development potential. The technology could not be disseminated through Mali because no mechanical presses were available in the country. Existing presses had been imported from Nepal, but clearly this was not a sustainable option. Therefore it was considered important to find a local (or more local) supplier.

The installations identified were experiencing management problems, including financial management which means there were not sufficient funds to repair/ replace equipment. There was also a lack of technical capacity in the villages, which means that when technical problems occur CNESOLER is called in from Bamako to solve them.

The following barriers to sustainability were identified:

  • Poorly functioning management of the installations.
  • At some installations, there was no organisational structure in place to ensure a consistent supply of poughere seed for pressing, which means that at some times of the year diesel is used instead.
  • Due to poor financial management, there was a lack of capital to replace old, worn-out engines.
  • There was no local supplier of the mechanical oil press or spare parts. This threatens the sustainability of the existing installations, and means no further installations can be made. It is not a realistic option for small community groups to order presses or spares from Nepal. If the poughere multi-function platform is to move beyond the project phase into commercial viability, this problem had to be addressed.

The SEAF intervention was designed to resolve these organisational problems, which included also technical problems. The hardware necessary for functioning was essentially in place, and there was a varying level and efficiency of management in different villages. Therefore the SEAF intervention was to remove these barriers to sustainable operation, and bring the full potential development benefit of these installations.

Identification of a source of mechanical presses closer to Mali was necessary to ensure sustainability and dissemination. When the organisational problems are solved and a press supplier is identified, this could interest rural entrepreneurs who can invest in such installations. In fact, suitable presses could not be identified in West Africa, so it was decided to work with AMC to produce the press locally in Mali. The rights for production and drawings etc had been given to the Ministry of Energy by the former GTZ project, but had never been used.

Women with the soap they produced from Jatropha

The original Nepalese Malian presses side by side (left); pressing seed to produce oil & presscake to test the press efficiency (centre); measuring oil & presscake produced to compare performance with original press (right).

The Mali-Folkecenter SEAF team worked closely with a dedicated team from ACM. An original press was supplied, along with the drawings. Explanations were given for mounting and dismounting, and the work commenced. Three months and several site visits later, the prototype was ready for testing.

Jatropha seed was brought from Falan, CNESOLER provided an electric motor to provide mechanical power, and after some adjustments the press was operating properly, producing press cake and oil. Subsequently, efficiency tests were carried out giving a value of 25% compared to 26% for the original, a highly satisfactory result (the seed contains 30-34% oil).

Practical training of technicans from the project villages on maintenance & repairs that can be neccessary for all platform elements (left & centre); theoretical in-class training to support the practiacal training (right).

On the organisational side, training was provided in technical aspects of operation and maintenance of equipment, as well as management capacity building and creation of a new streamlined management structure.