GREEN Fuel has received an ethanol production licence for its US$600 million Chisumbanje plant as operations get back on course after the company was threatened with closure due, in part, to turf wars in the outgoing coalition government.
Board chairman, Basil Nyabadza, confirmed the development saying the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) had awarded them a licence last week.
“We are excited that the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority has given us the licence we have been yearning for about 18 months now,” Nyabadza said.
“This now completes the regulatory requirements to enable smooth production of ethanol and its uptake onto the local market.
“It is regrettable that in the history of this country it had never been a strict requirement to have the licence in order to produce ethanol, especially when it is for the benefit of the nation.
“Nonetheless, some people in their wisdom or lack of it, decided to frustrate efforts to acquire the licence.
Green Fuel was initially developed as a joint venture between two private firms and agro-parastatal ARDA which is chaired by Nyabadza amid hopes the company would help reduce the country’s fuel import bill.
But the project immediately faced huge problems after Energy Minister Elton Mangoma refused to endorse mandatory blending of ethanol and petrol resulting in production stopping at Chisumbanje leaving about 4,000 workers at risk of losing their jobs.
Industry watchers claimed Mangoma’s MDC-T party was deliberately frustrating the company because some of the investors in the project had close ties to President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party.
The company also faced demands to comply with empowerment laws which force foreign companies to localise ownership of at least 51 percent of their operations although the investors insisted they were Zimbabwean.
However, a new ownership structure was recently agreed with the government, paving way for operations to resume at Chisumbanje.
Nyabadza said the company was now targeting more growth after resolution of the various sticking issues.
“It was a new development under the Global Political Agreement. After all is said and done, we are happy that the licence is out and we now have an off take position,” he said.Advertisement
“We hope this is just the start of bigger things to come for ethanol production in Chisumbanje. We are now calling on all those with requisite skills to come back home from the Diaspora and get employed in local industry notably the Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant.”