African nations form biofuel group

Thirteen of Africa's poorest nations have joined forces to become global suppliers of biofuels - fuel produced from organic material or plant oils.

    Biofuels could offer an alternative to crude oil

    In a meeting in Senegal on Thursday, they formed the African Non-Petroleum Producers Association (PANPP), aimed at developing alternative energy sources.

    "Our continent should have as its vocation to become the primary world supplier of biofuels," the Senegalese president, Abdoulaye Wade, told delegates meeting in the capital, Dakar.

    The project is inspired by Brazil, where three-quarters of new cars run on a mix of biofuel and petrol.

    "This step to develop clean energy is all the more pertinent because it calls for immense areas of cultivable land, where Africa benefits from a clear advantage," Wade said.

    Oil prices

    Investment in biofuels, including ethanol derived from sugar cane and biodiesel from oils, is booming on the back of high oil prices, energy security fears, limited spare refinery capacity and concerns about greenhouse gas emissions.

    Africa produces a range of crops that could be used to make biofuel, including sugar cane, sugar beet, maize, sorghum and cassava - all of which can be used to make ethanol - and peanuts, the oil of which can run diesel engines.

    Alassane Niane, a technical adviser at Senegal's energy ministry, said that while biofuels were a relatively new concept in much of Africa, progress was being made.
       
    Jatropha, a wild shrub from neighbouring Mali, 

    is being used to make biodiesel to run generators and water pumps.

    Senegal's state sugar company is working on a project to produce ethanol.
     
    "It is the first time here that people are consciously saying there is a need for biofuel," Niane said.

    "The raw materials exist here, the technical know-how exists here, we just need the politicians to get behind it."

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.