Bioenergy trade and regional development: the case of bioethanol in Southern Africa

Mar 2006

This paper analyses the prospects for international bioenergy trade within the context of regional integration and sustainable development in the region of southern Africa, focusing on the particular case of bioethanol made from sugar cane and sweet sorghum. A number of options are considered for expanded production of and trade in bioethanol as a transport fuel for blending with petrol.
The implications for alternative development paths and regional cooperation strategies are discussed and compared. Transportation costs appear to be small compared to production costs, although the higher cost of shipment by land implies a need for regional coordination strategies. The availability of suitable feedstocks in the region would have to increase significantly in order to achieve economies of scale. There appear to be valuable opportunities for creating new export markets, although international cooperation will be needed for reducing import tariffs and addressing non-tariff trade barriers as well as promoting technology transfer and capacity-building.

By: F. X. Johnson (SEI), E. Matsika (CEEEZ)

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