By JAMES KUNDA –
THE Government is studying the viability of creating a price mechanism that would support large-scale production of biofuel commodities in Zambia, Mines, Energy and Water Development Minister Christopher Yaluma has said.
Mr Yaluma said in Ndola that Government could not immediately introduce the pricing mechanism for biofuel commodities as production was only at a small-scale basis.
“We are studying the proposals from stakeholders concerning pricing mechanism for biofuels and a decision will be arrived at based on the availability of producers on large-scale basis.
“For instance, the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) is producing but in smaller quantities, and what we are looking for is large-scale production as this process is intended for commercial purposes,” he said.
The Biofuels Association of Zambia (BAZ) has constantly urged Government to accelerate the creation of a pricing mechanism for biofuels, so that people could explore alternative sources of energy and reduce the country’s dependence on petroleum.
BAZ chairperson Thomson Sinkala says it has been difficult for entrepreneurs to venture into biofuel production as the country lacks a mechanism to detect profits and losses in the business.
“The local biofuels industry is one worth venturing into, but this has been difficult for local entrepreneurs due to the absence of a pricing mechanism.
“Hence, Government should accelerate the start-up strategy for biofuels to facilitate wider participation among local entrepreneurs, some of whom have even completed their preparatory works in form of business plans,” he said.
Unlike Zambia, prominent cassava rich countries such as Thailand have already empowered local entrepreneurs with the capacity to produce ethanol from the crop on large scale basis.
From the more than 1 million tonnes of cassava that this country produces annually, Zambia could produce ample millilitres of ethanol for local consumption annually.