This paper reviews biomass energy production and utilization trends, opportunities, challenges and strategies for sustainability in biomass energy sector in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). This is because despite various benefits provided by the resource, it receives little attention in terms of policy formulation and planning to enhance adequate investments and allocation of funds. Therefore, with increasing demand rate of 3.3% over 27% of woodfuel in SSA will continue being produced unsustainably using inefficient technologies; leading to a deforestation and degradation rate of over 3.5 million ha per year. The situation is worse in some countries like Kenya where over 40% of biomass energy especially is obtained from arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) characterized by less than 4% productivity rate due to poor regeneration and vegetation growth rates. Thus there is need to implement various strategies including adoption of improved and efficient production and utilization technologies, increase on-farm tree planting and enhanced tree out-grower systems, enactment and proper implementation of biomass energy policies, establishment of reliable biomass energy database, and recognition of biomass energy benefits to the society. These will foster integration of biomass energy into planning programmes to enhance investments in the sector and reduce biomass energy resource overexploitation.
Key words: Biomass energy, sustainability, policy, technologies, deforestation, degradation.
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