Stakeholders in biofuels development in Tanzania have urged the government to speed up formulation of a sound policy and legal mechanism to foster investment in biofuels.
This was said recently in Dar es Salaam by a stakeholder identified as Jansen Shuma when explaining challenges and development of the sector.
He said in different areas where such investments have taken place, the people have already started experiencing environmental, economic and social effects due to inappropriate coordination of biofuels activities between relevant government departments, the investing firms and the absence of a policy to govern biofuel activities.
“Lack of national policy on biofuels development remains a major obstacle towards the realization of the huge potential of biofuel in the country, “he said.
Shuma who is renewable energy expert from Tanzania Tradition energy organization (TaTedo) noted that late last year the Ministry of Energy and Minerals and the Infosys of the Netherlands organised a key stakeholders meeting to develop biofuels policy.
The meeting brought together representatives from the government sectorial ministries, Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) and Academic Institutions.
Specifically, members involved in the workshop came from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Vice President Office (Department of Environment), Haki Ardhi, TaTEDO, Land Use Planning Dept., Sokoine University of Agriculture, University of Dar es Salaam.
The objective was to put in place a policy to support and regulate the development of a sustainable biofuel industry in Tanzania.
According to him specific objectives were to discuss pillars of the proposed biofuel policy, improve the policy formulations provided in the previous stakeholder meetings, recommend for possible policy objectives and processes which will develop the biofuel industry in Tanzania.
It was reported from the workshop that stakeholders found it difficult to operate in an environment where they were uncertain of the legal framework.
Although seven companies have invested in cultivation of biofuel plants such as jatropha, sugarcane, croton and palm oil, this happened when there guidelines on the investment.
The companies include Agro-Eco-Energy Tanzania ltd, Prokon, Africa Bioenergy, Felisa, Sun Biofuels, Diligent and Kakute.
He said many lessons were learnt through the workshop on biofuel policy in Tanzania, and are concerned with the future of the industry in Tanzania.
He pointed out many policy makers see the development of the bioofuel sector as involving mainly foreign investors.
He said serious efforts were needed to promote local initiatives and investors in the industry, saying this included developing internal market for the biofuel products rather than depending on biofuel investors and markets abroad.