Global energy crisis and demands for alternative sources have induced production of liquid biofuels (bioethanol and biodiesel) as priority areas of development and investment policies. African countries perceive biofuels as having the potential to strengthen their national economies, energy balances and rural employment, while addressing climate change by reducing green house gas emissions. As well transnational companies, sovereign wealth funds and other investors are diverting their attention to biofuel production in Africa. There are, however, mounting uncertainties related to the governance of such production and the impacts on rural livelihoods, food security and the environment.
This panel will examine the impacts of biofuel production on African economies. It will address critical aspects of social and economic formations and transitions that are unfolding in rural Africa. Impacts of globalization, commoditization and rhetoric of climate change are setting high stakes and strong alliances in the ‘state - private sector’ sphere vis a vis the rural people. This has opened more space for the private sector to multiply and network ‘independent’ of the state. The panel will not only address the challenges of managing these muti-layered governance challenges related to the emergent economic and social relations, but also take a critical look at institutional and organizational areas of transformative interventions that may help promote benefits for rural producers in the long run. The overriding issue of the panel is on whose terms will large scale biofuel expansion in Africa take place?