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10.04.2006 General News

Banks Turn Their Backs on Bio-Diesel Industry

By GNA

Accra, April 10, GNA - Mr Kofi Marfo, Managing Director of Bio-Diesel One, one of the two bio-diesel manufacturers, has bemoaned the industry's inability to raise capital to fund their operations saying that could stall efforts to beat down the nation's energy bill. In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra after a meeting with the Ministry of Energy, Mr Marfo said, "work on the 12,000-hectare jathropha plant farm has come to a standstill due to a lull in financial inflows where all the banks have refused to give us any funding. "Our staffs of 450 persons have been asked to go home as a result of this predicament and we do not have collateral, a major requirement they all require."

He commended the efforts of the Ministry to bring the situation in the industry to the attention of Cabinet and Government as a whole. Mr Marfo said the Company had a 303.6 hectares yet to be cultivated, adding that with funding and technical expertise from the Ghana Energy Commission and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transport (BOST), "we would be in the position to create employment for more than 50,000 people".

He stressed that the bio-diesel industry had a future and that numerous feasibility studies, including a recent fact-finding trip to India had proved to be most profitable and capable of reducing Ghana's energy bill by nearly 25 per cent.

Onua Amoa, Managing Director of Onua Amoah Enterprise Industries, urged the Government to accelerate the pace in dealing with the bio-diesel issue.

"I think Government needs to adopt these two companies and use them as demonstration to make the industry thrive," he said.

Officials of the Energy Commission said they had examined the bio-diesel plant, jathropha and found it to be a potent plant with the capacity of meeting a large portion of Ghana's energy needs. The Commission said it had examined a number of options including soya, palm oil and rubber, saying 0.4 hectare could yield one tonne of jathropha seeds.

The Commission said it planed to make vehicles and industry use five per cent of bio-diesel produced by the Company and Onua Amoah Industries by 2010 and 10 per cent by 2020.

Professor Mike Oquaye, Minister of Energy, said the Government recognised the role of the industry and would soon come out with a position on it.

He gave the assurance that discussions had started with the African Development Bank, Agricultural Development Bank and the National Investment Bank to look for support for the industry.

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