Faces of the Kenya...

Faces of the Kenya CIC: Takamoto Biogas

As we approach the first anniversary of our Kenya Climate Innovation Center (CIC) later this month, we are reflecting on this year’s successes with profiles of entrepreneurs it has supported. This week in the spotlight, Takamoto Biogas, which is making biogas affordable for Kenyan farmers with an innovative business model.

With technical support and business advice from the CIC, Takamoto is set to launch a pilot of its Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) biogas system among 50 farmers. The company will install biogas digesters for small-scale dairy farms at an upfront cost 90 percent lower than its competitors.

Takamoto will recover the difference by charging farmers for the biogas they use, much in the same manner as utility companies. “We are not charging them for the system. We are charging them for the gas,” explained Takamoto’s Managing Director Niraj Varia.

This metering system is designed to increase biogas adoption among low-income farmers within and beyond Kiambu County.  “Prior to Takamoto, the main challenge in acquiring a biogas digester was the capital,” said Apollo Kimani, one of the farmers who have already signed up for the pilot.

CIC support

Research and development remains essential to Takamoto’s growth. The company is currently developing its own billing system and tweaking biogas digester designs. Additionally, it plans to carry out studies on the impact of biogas slurry on crop yields.

Since the company lacks the necessary human resources and capital for its ambitious research projects, the CIC will provide the technical support needed by Takamoto to carry them out.

“I am very happy with the support we are getting from the CIC,” said Varia. “Starting a business in renewable energy in Kenya is extremely tough. When everyone else was saying no, the CIC took a risk and supported us.”

Beyond helping Takamoto secure funding and government permits, CIC will also lobby to make biogas eligible for tax and duty waivers already available to the solar and wind power sectors.

Carbon emission reduction

Takamoto plans to extend affordable biogas to at least 10,000 farmers over the next five years and to expand across east Africa.

Takamoto’s target markets often rely on inefficient fuels, such as firewood, charcoal and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). The company estimates that each biogas unit it sells could abate four tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Switching from biomass to biogas also helps reduce indoor pollution, which has been linked to various respiratory diseases.

“My daughters already appreciate the biogas. They don’t cough as often as they used to,” said Kimani.

Once the pilot kicks off, Takamoto will directly employ 20 people. However, Mr Varia projects that farmers realizing greater efficiency and cost savings on their farms are likely to create even more jobs.

Biogas digester in a Kenyan farm.

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