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29.03.2007 Business & Finance

Ghana takes small steps to get biofuels off the ground

By Biopact team
Ghana takes small steps to get biofuels off the ground

Late last year, Ghana hosted an UNCTAD-led international workshop on the development of a biofuels industry in West-Africa, which resulted in the establishment of a common fund, to which the Indian government contributed US$250 million (previous post). The initiative also saw the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development release US$35 million for biodiesel development in Ghana.

Aside from these committments by the UN and international organisations Ghana is stimulating the development of a local biofuels industry in its own right and through a series of small-scale initiatives. An example comes from the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, which recently organised a 'jatropha implementation workshop' in Mankessim. Metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives, officials of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture and bankers from 24 districts in the country attended it; news from this workshop offers us a glimpse into Ghana's own efforts to launch biofuels.

The Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, Mr Abraham Dwuma Odoom, announced that the country's government has created a 15 billion cedis (€1.2/US$1.6 million) fund for the development of Jatropha curcas plantations accross the country.

Mr. Odoom, who is also the Chairman of the Jatropha Implementation Committee, specified that out of that amount some three billion cedis had been released for the production of seeds and seedlings (image), while the remaining 12 billion was ready at the banks to be accessed by persons interested in the cultivation of the jatropha in the districts.

The Deputy Minister added that at the moment quality seeds were available for cultivation of about 2,500 hectares of land and gave the assurance that by next year there would be seeds to cultivate nearly 5,000 hectares of land. Mr. Odoom cautioned the banks not to sit on the money but to release the funds in time for successful implementation of jatropha projects.

National Co-ordinator of Community Based Rural Development Projects (CBRDP), Mr. Brown Matthew Oppong, highlighted the fact that a US$ 5 million fund managed by the Natural Resource Management Component of the CBRDP meant for the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems could also be accessed by jatropha projects. This is so because the crop can help prevent soil erosion, and re-green degraded lands: biomass :: bioenergy :: biofuels :: energy :: sustainability :: soil erosion :: jatropha :: biodiesel :: Ghana ::

At the same workshop, a concrete example of a biodiesel project was presented by Mr. Onua Amoah, a Ghanaian industrialist whose company Anuanom Industries, has installed a 500-ton capacity machine for processing jatropha seeds into biodiesel at Gomoa Pomadze in Ghana's Central region.

The company has also installed a 2000-ton capacity equipment for producing organic fertilizer from the by-product of the biodiesel.

Mr. Amoah said since the biodiesel project was to reduce cost of importing diesel into the country, every effort would be made to ensure that production was done at minimal cost. He assured farmers that there is a ready market for the crop, allaying fears that jatropha would suffer the ordeal farmers went through in marketing crops like coffee, sunflower and cashew.