Sweden helps Mozambique searching for alternative fuels

Jul 21, 2006 02:00 AM

Swedish technicians are working with the Mozambican authorities on supplying the local market with alternative fuels, according to Energy Minister Salvador Namburete. They are looking at the possibility of producing ethanol.
Namburete did not say what raw material would be used, but said there was enough potential to supply the entire Mozambican market and export a surplus to Sweden.

Ethanol can be added to petrol, thus reducing the fuel import bill. Currently, Mozambique's fuel imports cost in excess of $ 168 mm a year. That invoice could rise still further: speculators were able to push the price of oil up to $ 78 a barrel, largely because of nervousness over the spreading conflict in the Middle East.
In addition to the Swedish interest in ethanol, the search for alternative fuels also involve several proposals for bio-diesel. Thus in Zambezia province, the company Madal has proposed to turn copra into bio-diesel, taking advantage of the fact that Zambezia is home to the largest coconut plantation in the world.

The Monapo Industrial Company in Nampula province intends to refine bio-diesel from sunflower oil. But the most frequently mentioned source of bio-diesel is the jatropha shrub, which President Armandoi Guebuza himself is urging peasant farmers to grow.
Some people have expressed fears that farmers might prefer to grow jatropha instead of food crops, thus weakening the country's food security. Namburete did not share this pessimism, pointing out jatropha will grow in marginal soils where it would be quite impossible to obtain a decent maize harvest.

Namburete warned that, although the problems caused by rising fuel prices are immediate, the production of alternative fuels would take a long time.
"We want sustainable solutions", he said, "but these take time to materialise. What is important is to have a perspective, and what we are doing now will allow us to enjoy some autonomy in the future".

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique
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