Down to biogas business: A case study on the biogas sector in Uganda and it's challenges faced by small- and microentrepreneurs
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More and more, the private sector is believed to be an agent of development. Through strategies like corporate social responsibility, shared value creation and bottom of the pyramid approaches, the private sector is often believed to be able to address development issues, like unemployment and poverty, in a better way than governments have during the last decades. This optimism has trickled down into development strategies all over the world. This has also been the case in Uganda, where different donor-funded organisations have initiated the development of a private biogas sector in the country. Through this new sector, not only jobs would be created and economic development would be stimulated, but also the spreading of biogas (a renewable source of energy) would increase energy access and alleviate poverty among poorer segments of society. However, new companies within this sector are struggling to become viable and independent, which makes it hard for the sector to deliver its promises of contributing to development. This study poses the question why and how this sector is struggling to become independent and commercially viable. By using the Ugandan biogas sector as an exemplified case-study, it explores the difficulties a private sector encounters before it can contribute to development. In Uganda, challenges key actors in the sector, biogas construction enterprises, face in selling and constructing biogas were studied in detail with mainly qualitative methods. Results of this study showed difficulties related to the sectors infrastructure and relationships between different stakeholders. Furthermore, challenges regarding financial and technical capacity play a major role in the functioning of the sector. The findings of this study show the complexity of the private sector as an agent of development, supporting the argument that private sector development is not a panacea to stimulate economic growth and alleviate poverty.