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A peek at regional production of ehanol

By | May 26th 2009
By | May 26th 2009

By Luke Anami

A look at the countries surrounding Kenya indicates that there have been massive ethanol plans underway for over a decade.

In East and Southern Africa, Malawi has been producing ethanol since 1982. It built the Dwangwa Sugar Mill, in 1982 while a second ethanol plant built was built in 2004 at Nchalo Sugar Mill. The two plants have a combined capacity of 30 million litres per year.

Over 224 million litres have been blended with petrol since early 1980s when it attained 20 per cent fuel blending.

But, Uganda, which produces large quantities of sugar, grain, and oil crops that can be used for ethanol and bio diesel production, is yet to develop a comprehensive programme for harnessing this potential.

Ethiopia produces 8 million litres per year of ethanol from molasses. The country’s Minister of Mines and Energy announced a policy to begin blending five per cent ethanol into the country’s transport petrol pipeline, started in the month September 2008.

About 90 per cent of arable land in Mauritius is under sugar cane, with an annual production of 600,000 tonnes of sugar. It uses 1.8 million tonnes of bagasse annually, for electricity generation in the sugar factories, and lately, for producing power for export to the national grid.

Sweet sorghum

South Africa accounts for about 70 per cent of total ethanol production in Africa. Although most of that has been of the synthetic kind derived from coal and gas, two large ethanol plants have a current production capacity of 97 million litres per year.

Sudan’s Kenana Sugar Company has a ten-year expansion plan to produce 200,000 litres of ethanol per day from molasses.

As most of the third world countries look the ethanol way, there is no need for Kenya to fight too hard.

The Government should lay emphasis on production of sweet sorghum, a crop recognised as a possible alternative or complementary crop to provide raw material to sugar cane in the production of ethanol.

To meet rising demand sweet sorghum, which can be harvested twice per annum, could be used. It has, however, been observed that there is need to carry out more research into other crops.

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