Concerns over global warming and soaring fossil fuel costs are leading investors in Tanzania to turn to cleaner energy sources like biofuels.
British company Sun Biofuels is investing an initial $5.5m to grow about 5 500 hectares of the biofuels plant jatropha in the next 10 years. The firm's subsidiary, Sun biofuels Tanzania is in the final stages of acquiring 8 000 hectares of land west of Dar es Salaam of which 70% will be under the oil plant, and the rest will be allocated to forests or game parks.
The investment is expected to employ about 1,000 Tanzanians, though this figure could increase as the project expands. Production of biofuels wiill stop soil erosion, create additional income for rural populations and provide a source of energy locally and for export, saving and even earning foreign exchange for Tanzania.
Jatropha curcas, indigenous to Tanzania requires modest water and nutrients while its oil yield is relatively high. Pundits put annual yield per hectare at up to 8 tonnes of seed which can contain over 30 per cent oil.
Jatropha seeds are used as fuel for any diesel engine and also in manufacturing of varnishes, illuminants, soap and pest control. Dye and wax can also be produced from the bark of the jatropha