This chapter considers the case of the sugarcane agro-industry and explores the opportunities and challenges associated with an expansion of bioenergy production as well as the potential international trade implications.
Energy Security is a key issue in the fourteen countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, given the limited capacity and supply of modern energy services. It is a vast region, more than twice the size of the EU with less than half its population, and its underdeveloped energy and transport infrastructures pose tremendous challenges to economic development. Except for a few member states, it is a predominantly agricultural economy that is also heavily dependent on traditional biomass extracted from an increasingly degraded forest resource base. Thus the development of agro-industries can offer positive synergies in terms of improving energy security while also providing livelihoods and creating new economic linkages.
Land is not a limiting constraint to bioenergy production from sugarcane resources due to its high productivity but rather financing, infrastructure and effective institutions are often missing. This chapter discusses possible implementation mechanisms to maximise the benefits of sugar resources through multi-product strategies. One of the key policy issues to emerge from the analysis is the need to emphasise regional and not only national strategies, so as to take better advantage of the complementarities in local, regional, and global agricultural and energy markets.