Bio-fuels policy to cut petroleum import bill

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ZIMBABWE is set to significantly cut its petroleum import bill through development of a vibrant local bio-fuels industry.

This follows Cabinet’s approval of a bio-fuels policy, which is expected to give the country a number of energy source options as well as widen opportunities for job creation.

Government has said it is finalising an implementation matrix for the policy with the public launch slated for October 10, 2019.

“My ministry is already working on an implementation matrix for the policy, which will be available to the public once the necessary internal approvals are concluded,” Energy and Power Development Deputy Minister, Magna Mudyiwa, told Business Chronicle.

She said a number of activities were being implemented prior to the scheduled launch to ensure some of the conditions precedent will be in place.

Such conditions include establishment of an inter-ministerial co-ordinating committee with relevant ministries like Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Ministry of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry as well as the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

“We are also working on the feasibility of the proposed blending percentages that are proposed in the policy, given the current market trends and challenges,” said Deputy Minister Mudyiwa.

While acknowledging the persistent challenge with availability of fuel due to lack of adequate foreign currency in the country, she said the introduction of mandatory blending “will ensure less money was needed towards purchase of petroleum products,” adding that the production of bio-fuels would give Government some control in the security of fuel supply.

The bio-fuels policy promotes investment in the energy sector and allows for a level playing field for all players who would want to participate in the bio-fuels value chain.

It also seeks to address issues of market inefficiencies by opening up competition and decentralising the model of implementation.

Further, the policy has a number of incentives that include; revising ethanol licencing conditions that stifle competition, introduction of mandatory blending and targets for the blending of fuels, duty free importation of flex-fuel cars, low taxation of bio-fuels and prohibition of bio-fuels importation among others.

Through the policy Government has encouraged contract farming of crops that are commercially important as feed stock for bio-fuels and establishment of a Bio-fuels Marketing Board.

The policy is one of the anchor interventions by Government towards achieving an upper middle income economy by 2030. — –chronicle.c.zw

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