Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mozambique Eyes Biofuels To Cut Energy Costs

Mozambique eyes biofuels to cut energy costs

July 13, 2007, 15:30

Mozambique is considering investing in a massive bio-fuels programme to cut oil imports and supply its growing manufacturing and tourism sectors with low-cost energy, one of its ministers said today. "This is an ambitious and viable programme," Venancio Massingue, the science and technology minister, told reporters in an interview. "It's our plan to start massive production and reduce fuel imports, boost agricultural production and tourism."

He did not disclose how much the impoverished southern African nation would have to spend on such a programme and noted that further studies into the science and technology behind the bio-fuels programme were needed. Mozambique has the potential to produce more than 21 million litres of ethanol and 40 million litres of bio-diesel, according to Massingue, who said more than five million hectares of land would be needed to produce crops to make biofuels.

Unprecedented economic boom

He cited a recent study indicating that coconut and sunflowers, which grow in Mozambique's tropical climate, could be used to develop the bio-fuels, sparing the country from using vital food sources, such as maize.

Mozambique has been enjoying an unprecedented economic boom, buoyed by growing inflows of foreign investment since the end of a 17-year civil war in 1992. The country, however, has limited energy supplies, making it reliant on foreign oil and gas.

Rising petrol prices have pinched Mozambican consumers and prompted fears that the nation's economic growth could slow. The government has responded by broadening its search for new energy sources to include bio-fuel development. "Imports of refined oil products cost Mozambique dearly," Massingue said. "Bio-fuels can turn this situation around."

The first phase of Mozambique's bio-fuels programme would be implemented in the provinces of Inhambane, Zambezia, Nampula and Cabo Delgado.


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