Wubshet Tsehayu, carbon finance expert at Project Gaia (PGI) and Desalegn Getaneh, the director of Gaia Association, PGI’s Ethiopian sister organization, attended the Ethiopian Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas’ Biofuels Development Stakeholders Forum on June 16 and 17, 2017 in Hawasa.
The Biofuels Forum is an annual conference that brings together the key players and stakeholders of the sector; Government Ministries, Research Institutes and Universities, Sugar Industry, NGOs, Regional Bureaus, private companies and many others. The 2017 Forum was held with a goal to evaluate what has been done so far and consult stakeholders on how to use biofuels optimally. Both Gaia organizations attended to promote biofuel use at the household level; Ato Desalegn gave a presentation to that effect.
The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the second most populous country in Africa with about 100 million people, is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. To sustain the growth achieved during the last decade, the Government of Ethiopia is focusing on increasing the energy supply of the country significantly and has developed a strategy to build a climate‐resilient green economy by 2025.
Biofuels development and utilization is one of the vital sectors critical to achieving these goals. Consequently, the Government and other stakeholders have been working to develop and utilize the biofuel potential of the country with ethanol identified as the major biofuel.
The Biofuels Directorate develops and improves its national biofuels plan in consultation with stakeholders of the sectors. Gaia works closely with the Directorate for wide utilization of ethanol for household cooking for more than a decade. Gaia actively participated in the 2017 Forum along with other key players of the sector.
The Forum was hosted by H.E. Dr. Koang Tutlam, Deputy Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas. Dr. Koang opened the meeting emphasizing that the fast growing economy of Ethiopia is facing the under threat from climate change and noted that a 10% annual increase in energy demand.
The Biofuels Directorate of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been spearheading the development of the sector. The Directorate launched its first biofuels development plan in 2007 and significant progress has been achieved since then. So far, the national ethanol production from sugar production byproduct molasses has increased to about 30 million liters annually. It is expected to increase by more than ten fold within the next five years. To achieve this, more than seven new sugar plants are being established in different parts of the country.
Dr. Koang stated; “Biofuels development can be a success only by active participation of multi-stakeholders and we work hard to ensure the engagement of all concerned.” He further explained the stakeholders’ participation is weakening time after time and the Forum is part of the effort to bring back the stakeholders for an active role in the national biofuels development.
The Biofuels Directorate Director, Ato Michael stated; “Though the country has been able to save $50 million in ForEx by blending ethanol with petrol, there is a lack of focus on utilizing ethanol for cooking though this is stipulated in the biofuels strategy of the country.”
Gaia strongly shares the view of the Director and emphasized the need to focus on the household sector during its presentation and at consultative discussions.
While presenting the results of the study conducted on the biofuel sector development of the country, Echnoserve Consulting, Dr. Getachew stated; “The Government should focus on development of the household market since it is the largest market and is readily accessible. Otherwise it will be a challenge for the Government to create a market that reaches the targeted ethanol production capacity of the country.”
Dr. Daniel from Echnoserve explained efforts by Gaia in the refugee camps of Ethiopia has enabled the saving of several million USD by replacing imported kerosene with ethanol for cooking.
Furthermore, Ato Desalegn, Director of Gaia Association, emphasized the key role of the household market to consume the growing ethanol production of the country. He explained ethanol use for household cooking has significant positive health and environment benefits for communities as well as economic benefits.
Fruitful discussions conducted over the course of the two days consultation that will help the Ministry to shape its biofuels strategy.
The Minister assured attendees that their views were well noted and concluded the meeting emphasizing the Government’s commitment to boost ethanol production for local use. He added the Government is working to materialize its plan of sugar and ethanol production increase by more than ten fold.