Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Good policy or jumping on the band-wagon?

Later this year, it will become compulsory in Mozambique for fossil fuels to be mixed with biofuels. The cabinet is currently reviewing and expected to approve the regulations that would bring this measure into law and set percentages and limits for the process of biofuel inclusion. The country follow close ally Brazil, where petrol is required to contain 25% biofuels and diesel, 5% biodiesel. The move is intended to stimulate biofuel production and investment in the industry. A large-scale study has also been initiated, funded by foreign aid.

I don't know enough to make a call on this, but my instinct is that Mozambique simply doesn't have the capacity to produce enough biofuel to make this a viable move. Also, is it a good idea for a food insecure country to be encouraging a large-scale biofuel industry? Perhaps I'm completely wrong. Perhaps this is exactly what Mozambique needs. With new discoveries of natural gas, a strong regional role in electricity production and oil exploration looking more and more encouraging, perhaps Mozambique is on the verge of becoming a Southern African energy giant. It would be great if this turned out to be a wonderfully positive move. It'll definitely be an experiment worth watching: a low-income, food-insecure country attempting to go green with biofuels.

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