Currently, biofuel is not produced in South Africa, despite extensive lobbying. As is the case with most African countries, the decision on whether to produce biofuels or not has centred on the “food versus fuel debate.” Should valuable fertile land be used to produce crops for fuel, or should its use be for food production only?
Several African countries have gone ahead with the decision to produce biofuel crops to slash their countries fuel import bill and become more energy independent. One must ask why South Africa, Africa’s biggest economy and a country with vast tracts of arable land, has lagged behind its neighbours, and biofuel production has stalled in a legislative process that seems to have dragged on for years. Resistance from petrol companies and a lack of incentives are two reasons put forward by one expert.
For those unfamiliar with biofuels, bio-ethanol is blended with petrol and is primarily produced from starch-based crops, such as corn and sorghum, as well as from sugar cane or sugar beet, whereas biodiesel is blended with mineral diesel and is made from canola, jatropha, sunflower or soya.