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06.04.2006 General News

Ministry urges financial support for bio-diesel industry

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Accra, April 6, GNA - The Minister of Energy, Professor Mike Oquaye on Wednesday urged financial support for the development of the bio-diesel industry, saying Cabinet was about to receive a policy report on an accelerated pace of developing the industry in Ghana.

Addressing a press briefing in Accra, Professor Oquaye said the Government was very concerned about the manner in which the industry was developed in Ghana especially with the provision of adequate and efficient equipment and machinery for the growth of the industry. He noted that the bio-diesel industry was a very important means of securing the future supply of petroleum fuels and their costs to the country, which constituted a major threat and source of insecurity to the sustainability of economic activity.

Prof Oquaye said given the high demand of oil and the slow growth rate of discovery and production and a price of over 60 dollars per barrel, prices were not likely to go down but rise.

Under this condition, oil may be available but poorer states like Ghana would not be able to buy them to sustain an accelerated growth pattern.

"It is in this regard that the Ministry's policy objective has been to diversify the nation's oil supply base and seek alternatives in all sectors ... including an active and efficient development of bio-diesel"," Prof Oquaye said.

He noted that with the high demand by the United States and China, oil imports was no longer a real option for poor nations like Ghana and called on the private and public banks to come to help to develop the industry.

Mr Kofi Marfo, Managing Director of Bio Diesel One, one of two companies involved in the development of the plant in Ghana said bio-diesel had a future and must be supported.

He said the company currently had 12,000 hectares in the Brong Ahafo Region in readiness for feed stock production, adding that 700 hectares was currently under jathropha cultivation.

He noted that the only handicap they have was accessing funds to meet the cost of land and cultivation.

Mr Marfo said his company had been approached by foreign companies to form joint ventures, "but their terms have not been very favourable, since they intend to take the product out of the country. Onua Amo, of Anuanom Industrial Enterprise, urged the Government to adopt the two companies and use them as examples to develop the industry.

Mr Amoa, a member of one of the team that visited India, said the visit proved that his claim and push for support was not in vain but a viable venture that must be supported by the Government and the private equity market.