Author: Antonio Guerrero

NIGERIA BUILDS BIOFUEL CAPACITY AS ZIMBABWE BRACES FOR ENERGY SHORTAGE

By Antonio Guerrero

The Nigerian government has signed a memorandum of understanding with Global Biofuels, a Nigerian biofuels producer, for the construction of 15 integrated biofuels refineries at an investment of $2.55 billion.

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Green energy expansion in Nigeria

According to the company, 70% of financing, equal to $1.78 billion, will be provided by the Chinese government. The remainder will be provided by other institutions, including the Nigerian Export-Import Bank, the multilateral Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development, sub-Saharan-focused Africa Development Corporation, Fond Gari of Togo and First Bank of Nigeria.

The first refinery is slated for completion during the fourth quarter of this year and the plants are expected to generate a combined 120,000 direct and 750,000 indirect jobs throughout 15 of the 36 Nigerian states.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of China's Big Four state-controlled commercial banks, has opened its first representative office in Africa. Located in Cape Town, South Africa, the office is part of a plan to increase the bank's regional business.

Jiang Jianqing, ICBC's chairman and executive director, says the move highlights the bank's commitment to supporting increased trade and economic ties between China and Africa.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China acquired a 20% stake in South Africa's Standard Bank for $5.5 billion in 2008 and it has signed $7 billion in financing agreements in the region, in conjunction with Standard Bank.

Although its African contracts represent less than 5% of ICBC's international trade finance deals, the bank expects the figure to reach 20% over the next decade.

Zimbabwe, which has been hard hit by power outages recently, could be gearing up for an increased energy shortfall this year.

The record 29% year-on-year spike predicted to hit in 2012 by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, the state power utility, will be fueled by a 22% rise in mining sector demand, against a backdrop of the expected 9.4% expansion in gross domestic product this year.

Although the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority currently produces beetween 900 and 1,200 megawatts, actual demand is between 1,900 and 2,200 megawatts. Another 35% of demand is supplied via costly energy imports from Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of Congo.