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Law on biofuels in the offing

MP Peter Lokeris
MP Peter Lokeris made revelation

The government has drafted a bill to promote the use of biofuels as one of the efforts to move the country from over reliance on Biomass and fossil fuels to renewable energy sources in order to mitigate the effects of global climate change, The Sunrise has learnt.

The revelation was recently made by the State Minster for Energy and Minerals Peter Lokeris  while officiating at the National Biomass Energy Dialogue 2016 at Hotel Africana under the theme “Increasing access to modern Biomass Energy for sustainable National development.”

“In a bid to increase the contribution of renewables in the energy mix and further diversify energy sources, Government is developing legislation to promote the sustainable production and use of biofuels especially in the household and transport sector,” Lokeris stated.

“Once enacted into law, oil companies will be obliged to blend fossil fuels with biofuels gradually up to a 20% mix,” Lokeris added.

Coming at a time when several parts of the country including the central region are facing a severe food shortage already claiming lives, observers argue that the bill is ill-timed as it may divert would-be vital food sources such as Cassava and Matooke for production of biofuels.

The Executive Director for Uganda Coalition on sustainable Development Richard Kimbowa however welcomed the development with a sense of hesitation arguing that while it sounds good in theory, it may be derailed by the government’s poor implementation.

“We need more proactive action beyond just legislation for which Uganda is known for but always remaining on paper. If government is serious about moving towards renewable like biofuels, let them create incentives in agriculture and the Housing sector for example. It is one of the ways to make it sustainable, ” Kimbowa said.

The revelation comes in the wake of a few preliminary efforts to perhaps ensure the country’s successful entry into the biofuel sub-sector.

According to sources in the Ministry of Energy, a feasibility study was recently commissioned by the Ministry of energy with a view to balance biofuel production and food security by recommending specific crops such as cassava and various banana types in a bid to avoid endangering the country’s food security,

In addition, a new state of the art Laboratory (yet to be officially inaugurated) has been established at the National Crop Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI) at Namulonge to facilitate research on biofuels.

Lokeris pointed out that the biofuel option is one of the adaptation and mitigation actions intended to aid Uganda move away from a huge dependence on biomass especially firewood and charcoal  in Uganda’s energy mix which he said is already unsustainable  worrying that its demand has already outstripped its supply.

Figures from the Ministry of Energy indicate that up 100,000 hectares of forest land is cleared every year for cooking wood, timber and land for agricultural production.