Malawi is likely to save millions of kwacha following a decision by government to start buying ethanol as an alternative to petrol come January 2013.
Principal secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Lonely Magreta confirmed the development on Wednesday in Lilongwe when she presented awards to the countryâ€™s best young scientists.
â€œShortly, government will mobilise the private sector to go into ethanol production. Let me commend the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) for their research.
â€œThere is a bit more that needs to be done, but as soon as that is due, we will be able to have filling stations with diesel, petrol and ethanol,â€ she said.
According to figures contained in a report on Ethanol Driven Vehicle Project released before the kwacha was devalued, Malawi would save approximately K13.5 billion ($87 million) by 2015, assuming 33 percent of total petrol vehicle fuel requirement is met by ethanol fuel.
NCST director general Dr Henderson Chimoyo said ethanol fuel is likely to be ready on the market by January 2013.
He added that NCST will call a stakeholderâ€™s meeting in December to discuss the issue.
â€œIt is [at the stakeholderâ€™s meeting] where we will map the way forward on production, distribution, regulation and that is where Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority comes in because of the aspect of pricing. Once we have sorted out the pricing, distribution and others, we will identify few filling stations where the ethanol will be sold,â€ he said.
Chimoyo said most vehicles will have to be fitted with a conversion unit to run on the ethanol.
â€œThere will be an institution to supply such unit. The unit is not expensive, currently, it costs around $25 (K8 000),â€ he said, adding that once the unit is fitted, a motorist will be able to fill in the tank with either ethanol 100 percent or whatever mixture.
â€œSo, if your car runs out of ethanol, you will be able to fill in petrol,â€ he added.
Ethanol is an alternative fuel to petrol and not diesel vehicles, said Chimoyo, observing that the country has the capacity to produce ethanol.
According to research, ethanol fuel is a form of clean energy, locally produced and cheaper than imported fuel that Malawi currently depends on.
Government last month approved the use of ethanol as alternative fuel for vehicles, a situation experts believe will lessen pressure on petrol.