Mozambican Energy Minister Salvador Namburete Thursd ay declared there was enormous potential for the expansion of biofuel production .
Speaking at the opening of a two-day international conference on “Powering Afric a: the Biofuels Options”, organised by his ministry and the British company, Ene r gyNet Ltd, Namburete pointed out that Africa remained the continent that enjoys t he best climatic conditions to grow the crops that could be turned into biofuels .
He said of the 116.8 billion gigajoules of energy generated and consumed in the world in 2005, only 1.1 billion gigajoules came from biofuels, mostly in Brazil.
“This is a clear demonstration that there is huge potential for the exploitation of these clean sources of energy,” he said.
For African countries such as Mozambique, he stressed, biofuels could be the key to reducing the import bill for fossil fuels and in the fight against poverty.
Namburete advocated the development of biofuel production through public/private partnerships, where private companies would raise the funding and manage the pr o jects, while the government played a “facilitating role” in establishing “an ena b ling environment and regulatory framework.”
He stressed the importance of handling land allocation for biofuel production se nsitively, avoiding any conflict between biofuels and food production, and preve n ting dependence on monocultures.
He suggested that the most appropriate crops to use were sugarcane for bioethano l, and jatropha and copra for biodiesel.
The advantage of the jatropha shrub, he argued, is that it can be grown on margi nal land and so does not compete with food crops.
Namburete cited examples of recent short and long haul flights by airlines using a mixture of jet fuel and biofuels.
These had been successful and no modification to the aircraft engines was requir ed.