HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsLet’s take ethanol blending seriously

Let’s take ethanol blending seriously

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As Zimbabwe continues to dilly–dally over the Chisumbanje ethanol project, other countries are seeing an opportunity to ease their fuel challenges.

News Day Editorial

Our northern neighbour, Zambia, has already indicated that it would start importing ethanol from the Zimbabwean project with a view of lowering the high fuel prices in Zambia, implying that very soon they will be reaping benefits from this project while we continue to import the bulk of our fuel using precious, and scarce financial resources.

As we reported yesterday, the Zambian government will soon sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Green Fuel in its continued efforts to find cheaper sources of fuel for its citizens.

Zambia is currently facing a fuel crisis and believes the importation of ethanol from Zimbabwe will provide a solution to its plight.

Considering that in the past Zimbabwe had to contend with a serious fuel crisis, we should know better and should have been the first to enjoy this new innovation.

Experts contend that the introduction of E10 in Zimbabwe would result in savings of up to $2 million per month yet it seems government is not doing enough to ensure the survival of the Chisumbanje ethanol plant. The Zanu PF component of the inclusive government has been pushing for the takeover of the $600 million plant.

We find the position taken by the MDC-T also worrying in that they argue that they will make ethanol blending operative should they form the next government. This could be cheap politicking given that the party, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, currently holds the energy portfolio, but has not done anything to promote the use of the bio-fuel. Why should they wait to form the next government before they can deliver on that front?

Energy minister Elton Mangoma is on record as having told Green Fuel to go ahead and export the ethanol if they so wished, leaving the country reeling with a high import fuel bill and motorists bleeding as a result of the high fuel prices.

The long and short of it is that the government has not done enough to promote the use of ethanol blending despite the obvious benefits accruing from this multi-million dollar investment. Against this backdrop, we begin to wonder if this government is really concerned about making life bearable for the country’s population.

Zimbabwe imports the bulk of its 30 million to 40 million litres of petrol used every month from Mozambique, and augments that with supplies from South Africa.

Besides the renewable energy being environmentally clean, the use of ethanol as a blend results in the drop in fuel prices.

Indications from Green Fuel general manager Graeme Smith are that the project, which currently employs 4 500 workers, has the potential of employing an additional 22 000 — through direct and indirect jobs — should jolt the inclusive government into action given the huge potential the project has for the national economy. It is time senior government officials put their individual interests aside and put the national interest first.

There is no doubt that the cost of fuel impacts on all facets of our lives, hence the sooner government realises that the better for everybody. This is time to wake up and smell the coffee!

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