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Botswana: oil price fuels biomass energy

As anxiety mounts about the security of oil and gas supplies, countries around the world are falling back on a familiar energy source - Biomass. Although crude oil prices have eased slightly from the recent high, countries have fallen for alternative sources of energy for use in motor vehicles and other domestic uses.
"We are following the proven example of Brazil, which is using 100 percent ethanol on modified VW cars... but Botswana is just starting," says Letlhogonolo More, Managing Director of Green Ease Energy, an alternative source of energy for cooking, lighting and heating.

His company, Atsile Investment started operating in 2004 following a detailed comparative analysis on alternative energy sources in Botswana. Having been inspired by the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), More's passion in sustainable use of resources grew from strength to strength. "I started doing my independent researches in bio-fuels when I was a student in South Africa... I then came in contact with Green Heat Energy of South Africa, of whom I became an agent," recalls More who, grudgingly admits he went to South Africa to pursue studies in Information Technology (IT), while his passion is in environmental issues. Today More's company is the leading supplier and distributor of gel stoves, gel lamps and bio fuel - targeting the rural poor, people who frequently go on trips and greens (those passionate about sustainable use of resources). Bio-fuel is derived from a wide range of raw materials or plants called energy crops, like sugar cane, potatoes, and all agricultural products rich in starch or has sugar.

"The advantage of bio fuel is that it is very convenient, clean and renewable," he said adding that Botswana has vast amounts of renewable sources "but we continue to suffer when oil-rich economies encounter domestic problems." More says most neighbouring countries have fallen to using renewable energy and SADC is planning to intensify its campaign on renewable energy by 2012. More says neighbouring countries such as Malawi, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe have converted to cleaner and safer - blended petrol (E10). More is considering manufacturing bio-diesel, which is derived from various oil-bearing seeds and utilised to supplement diesel thus reducing emissions of hazardous gases into the atmosphere.

And increasingly, high prices of crude oil currently at around US$65 per barrel (P388.70) are encouraging the appearance of a new group of renewable sources companies, including several Brazilian groups, which are exporting more bio-fuel to Africa than any other products. In the recent past, fuel prices have soared following political turmoil in the middle East, which has dealt a severe blow to the supply of crude oil. Currently, the price of petrol in Gaborone and surrounding areas is at a record high of P5.06 per litre.

Additional information:
News date: 28/08/2006

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