<body> -------------------
Contact Us       Consulting       Projects       Our Goals       About Us
home / Archive
Nature Blog Network

    Spanish company Ferry Group is to invest €42/US$55.2 million in a project for the production of biomass fuel pellets in Bulgaria. The 3-year project consists of establishing plantations of paulownia trees near the city of Tran. Paulownia is a fast-growing tree used for the commercial production of fuel pellets. Dnevnik - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Hungary's BHD Hõerõmû Zrt. is to build a 35 billion Forint (€138/US$182 million) commercial biomass-fired power plant with a maximum output of 49.9 MW in Szerencs (northeast Hungary). Portfolio.hu - Feb. 20, 2007.

    Tonight at 9pm, BBC Two will be showing a program on geo-engineering techniques to 'save' the planet from global warming. Five of the world's top scientists propose five radical scientific inventions which could stop climate change dead in its tracks. The ideas include: a giant sunshade in space to filter out the sun's rays and help cool us down; forests of artificial trees that would breath in carbon dioxide and stop the green house effect and a fleet futuristic yachts that will shoot salt water into the clouds thickening them and cooling the planet. BBC News - Feb. 19, 2007.

    Archer Daniels Midland, the largest U.S. ethanol producer, is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Indonesia with Wilmar International Ltd. this year and a wholly owned biodiesel plant in Brazil before July, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The Brazil plant is expected to be the nation's largest, the paper said. Worldwide, the company projects a fourfold rise in biodiesel production over the next five years. ADM was not immediately available to comment. Reuters - Feb. 16, 2007.

    Finnish engineering firm Pöyry Oyj has been awarded contracts by San Carlos Bioenergy Inc. to provide services for the first bioethanol plant in the Philippines. The aggregate contract value is EUR 10 million. The plant is to be build in the Province of San Carlos on the north-eastern tip of Negros Island. The plant is expected to deliver 120,000 liters/day of bioethanol and 4 MW of excess power to the grid. Kauppalehti Online - Feb. 15, 2007.

    In order to reduce fuel costs, a Mukono-based flower farm which exports to Europe, is building its own biodiesel plant, based on using Jatropha curcas seeds. It estimates the fuel will cut production costs by up to 20%. New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) - Feb. 12, 2007.

    The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has decided to use 10% biodiesel in its fleet of public buses. The world's largest city is served by the Toei Bus System, which is used by some 570,000 people daily. Digital World Tokyo - Feb. 12, 2007.

    Fearing lack of electricity supply in South Africa and a price tag on CO2, WSP Group SA is investing in a biomass power plant that will replace coal in the Letaba Citrus juicing plant which is located in Tzaneen. Mining Weekly - Feb. 8, 2007.

    In what it calls an important addition to its global R&D capabilities, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is to build a new bioenergy research center in Hamburg, Germany. World Grain - Feb. 5, 2007.

    EthaBlog's Henrique Oliveira interviews leading Brazilian biofuels consultant Marcelo Coelho who offers insights into the (foreign) investment dynamics in the sector, the history of Brazilian ethanol and the relationship between oil price trends and biofuels. EthaBlog - Feb. 2, 2007.

    The government of Taiwan has announced its renewable energy target: 12% of all energy should come from renewables by 2020. The plan is expected to revitalise Taiwan's agricultural sector and to boost its nascent biomass industry. China Post - Feb. 2, 2007.

    Production at Cantarell, the world's second biggest oil field, declined by 500,000 barrels or 25% last year. This virtual collapse is unfolding much faster than projections from Mexico's state-run oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos. Wall Street Journal - Jan. 30, 2007.

    Dubai-based and AIM listed Teejori Ltd. has entered into an agreement to invest €6 million to acquire a 16.7% interest in Bekon, which developed two proprietary technologies enabling dry-fermentation of biomass. Both technologies allow it to design, establish and operate biogas plants in a highly efficient way. Dry-Fermentation offers significant advantages to the existing widely used wet fermentation process of converting biomass to biogas. Ame Info - Jan. 22, 2007.

    Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited is to build a biofuel production plant in the tribal belt of Banswara, Rajasthan, India. The petroleum company has acquired 20,000 hectares of low value land in the district, which it plans to commit to growing jatropha and other biofuel crops. The company's chairman said HPCL was also looking for similar wasteland in the state of Chhattisgarh. Zee News - Jan. 15, 2007.

    The Zimbabwean national police begins planting jatropha for a pilot project that must result in a daily production of 1000 liters of biodiesel. The Herald (Harare), Via AllAfrica - Jan. 12, 2007.

    In order to meet its Kyoto obligations and to cut dependence on oil, Japan has started importing biofuels from Brazil and elsewhere. And even though the country has limited local bioenergy potential, its Agriculture Ministry will begin a search for natural resources, including farm products and their residues, that can be used to make biofuels in Japan. To this end, studies will be conducted at 900 locations nationwide over a three-year period. The Japan Times - Jan. 12, 2007.

    Chrysler's chief economist Van Jolissaint has launched an arrogant attack on "quasi-hysterical Europeans" and their attitudes to global warming, calling the Stern Review 'dubious'. The remarks illustrate the yawning gap between opinions on climate change among Europeans and Americans, but they also strengthen the view that announcements by US car makers and legislators about the development of green vehicles are nothing more than window dressing. Today, the EU announced its comprehensive energy policy for the 21st century, with climate change at the center of it. BBC News - Jan. 10, 2007.

    The new Canadian government is investing $840,000 into BioMatera Inc. a biotech company that develops industrial biopolymers (such as PHA) that have wide-scale applications in the plastics, farmaceutical and cosmetics industries. Plant-based biopolymers such as PHA are biodegradable and renewable. Government of Canada - Jan. 9, 2007.

Creative Commons License

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Africa enjoys record economic growth

This year, Africa enjoyed record economic growth. This is a good sign as it will ease Africa's transition towards becoming a global biofuel and bioenergy powerhouse.

Despite all the commonplaces out there, Africa is definitely capable of 'growing', in the narrow economic sense of the word. We must begin to wonder what the role of the Worldbank and the IMF is in all this. Because isn't it significant to note that during the 1980s and 1990s, when African states were forced to swallow the Worldbank's and the IMF's neoliberal 'structural adjustment' policies, they all went in decline and stopped growing, whereas today, when these states no longer obey Worldbank/IMF discipline, they all suddenly start showing the magic?

Obviously, the case is more complex. High oil prices have a clear impact, but this doesn't explain the economic boom witnessed in non-oil exporting African countries. So what is going on? And, after the Asian Tigers, are we now witnessing the rise of the African Leopards?

Sub-Saharan Africa's economic growth is projected at 5.3 percent in 2006, the same rate as in 2005, according to the IMF's African Regional Economic Outlook. As last year, Angola is Africa's fastest growing economy, leading the trend of oil exporters growing faster than oil importers. Only in Equatorial Guinea, Seychelles and Zimbabwe, the IMF expects negative growth rates in 2006.

Africa is in a state of record economic growth "thanks in part to prudent policies," according to the latest data released by the International Monetary Found (IMF) in its World Economic Outlook. Last year's strong growth is to be repeated this year, the forecast shows. The very high oil prices however are resulting in higher growth rates for oil producing nations and a somewhat lower growth for oil importing nations.

The IMF report attributes the projected maintenance of relatively strong growth despite higher oil import prices, to "many countries' continued pursuit of prudent macroeconomic policies" and to strong global demand growth. "Higher growth in oil-exporting countries should offset slower growth in oil-importing countries," the Fund noted.

In 2005, economic growth in sub-Saharan African oil exporting countries was measured at 6.8 percent of GDP, while it is expected to be at 8.0 percent this year. Simultaneously, African oil importers saw their economy growing by 4.8 percent last year, going back to a still comfortable 4.5 percent this year. Even when corrected by population growth, per capita growth in oil importing nations stands at 2.9 percent this year in Africa.

As last year, the most impressing growth is to be measured in Angola this year. With a real GDP growth of 15.7 percent in 2005, Angola is set to speed up growth to an impressive 26.0 percent this year, according to the IMF. Also other oil exporters, including Nigeria, Congo Brazzaville, Cameroon, Chad and Gabon, are experiencing considerable growth this year. Equatorial Guinea is the only oil exporting country seeing detraction and can expect a negative growth of 1.1 percent.

Among non-oil exporters, the picture is more differentiated. Strongest growth is expected in Malawi (8.3 percent), mostly connected to the poor country's bumper harvest this year, Mozambique (7.9 percent), Sierra Leone (7.4 percent), Congo Kinshasa and Cape Verde (both 7.0 percent). All these five countries will experience a much higher GDP growth that population growth, producing per capita growth between 3.9 (Congo) and 6.2 percent (Malawi).

While the majority of African countries are performing well, a few are not able to connect to the current positive trend. Negative GDP growth is even foreseen in Zimbabwe (-4.7 percent, improved from -6.5 percent last year) and Seychelles (-1.4 percent, improved from -2.3 percent last year). Zimbabwe continues to struggle with its failed economic and agricultural reforms and an international boycott, while Seychelles struggles with too late reforms and a setback in the tourism sector.

Several other countries however experience a negative trend when population growth is added to the IMF calculations, as there are more people to share economic goods among each year. As such, Guinea-Bissau experiences a positive development in GDP growth (2.6 percent), but per capita, the economy is still shrinking (-0.4 percent). Also the poor countries of Comoros, Lesotho and Niger see almost their entire economic growth eaten up by population growth.

Despite the large overall growth, the IMF was not satisfied with the registered numbers. For poverty in the region to be halved by 2015 - the UN's millennium aim - a real GDP growth rate of 7 percent is required for Africa at large. Only five countries were close to that aim in 2006, the Fund noted.

Especially the slow growth (4.5 percent) in oil importing countries disappointed the Fund. In presenting the report to the press last week, the IMF's Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane, said "it is really not acceptable to see oil revenues increasing while poverty is increasing. That is the equation we have to solve, and I think [African] authorities, ourselves, the World Bank, and other donors ... need to find the right balance."

Inflation in sub-Saharan Africa registered 10.7 percent in 2005, in part because of higher oil prices, and is expected to be largely stable in 2006 at 11 percent. It should decline in many countries but rise in others, including Zimbabwe, the only country with annual inflation in triple digits, according to the IMF. Stabilisation efforts in oil exporters Angola, Chad, and Nigeria should reduce inflation to less than 8 percent" in these countries.

Fiscal deficits, including grants, are projected to worsen in more than half the oil-importing countries, notably Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, and Kenya. According to the report, the reserve cover for oil importers should, on average, remain unchanged, but it is expected to fall in Burkina Faso, Comoros, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Rwanda, and Tanzania. Continuing high oil prices are expected to raise the fiscal and current account surpluses of oil-exporting countries.

"However, this outlook is subject to risks," the IMF notes. "In oil-importing countries, fiscal and current account balances may come under pressure from higher-than-expected oil prices or lower-than expected prices for Africa's other commodities."

"In several parts of the region, political uncertainties and fragile security threaten growth prospects, as does the possible spread of the avian flu. Moreover, millions of people in eastern and southern Africa are experiencing food shortages and urgently need humanitarian assistance," the Fund adds.

Afrol News.

Article continues