Re-opening of ethanol plant boon for business

FOLLOWING the re-opening of the Chisumbanje Ethanol Plant run by Green Fuel in the poverty-stricken Lowveld, major investments are taking place at Checheche Growth Point with several top banks, retail outlets and other big companies opening branches.

Herbert Moyo

A tour of the project this week showed Chisumbanje has sprung to life with financial institutions like ZB, CBZ, Agribank and BancABC opening branches.

Apart from banks, other firms such as National Foods, Fawcett Security and Moonlight Funeral Services have invested as companies compete to tap into the US$2 million injected into the ethanol project.

A boom in business in the area is set to transform thousands of lives negatively affected by the closure of the ethanol manufacturing company last year.

Chisumbanje has over the years lagged behind in development with most families living in abject poverty due to persistent poor harvests as a result of recurring droughts.

Green Fuel general manager Graeme Smith said the company was in talks with Boc Gases to set up a plant to tap into carbon dioxide, a by-product of ethanol production, for the local and regional market.

“The main use of the gas will be in foundry work,” he said.
“Currently, all our carbon dioxide is being imported, so this will constitute import substitution.”

Smith said his company’s investment was a national project which needs legislative protection against foreign concerns because “in addition to saving the country over US$5 million monthly through a reduced fuel import bill, Zimbabwe is also benefiting from direct investment and employment creation”.

“Zimbabwe saves US$5 million in reduced fuel imports and the figure will be substantially higher with an increase in the percentage of ethanol being blended,” said Smith.

“If, for example, E85 is adopted, this will translate to a saving of 40 US cents per litre on fuel costs by individual motorists.”

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