Malawi ethanol-fuelled cars implementation plans drawn

In a bid to solve fuel problems permanently in Malawi, Government is  leaving no stone unturned, while fossil fuel exploration activities are underway on Lake Malawi and elsewhere, it has been established that plans to turn Malawi into ethanol running country are at advanced stage in the Ministry of Energy.

Kalowekamo:  Malawi would save millions of dollars once all vehicles start using locally made ethanol, instead of petroleum.

Kalowekamo: Malawi would save millions of dollars once all vehicles start using locally made ethanol, instead of petroleum.

Energy Affairs Department in the Ministry of Energy confirmed that indeed Government is ahead with plans to make Malawi run on ethanol as opposed to petroleum fuels because of several advantages in using ethanol.

Spokesman in the Department, Joseph Kalowekamo said many developments have already taken place such as a research on ethanol as fuel for vehicles in Malawi, cabinet in 2012 approved the findings which recommended that Malawi would be better off using ethanol as fuel for vehicles and implementation plans were drawn by July 2013, but nothing much has happened since the unveiling of the implementation plans.

The implementation document sourced from the Department says:  “The use of locally produced ethanol could replace a significant proportion of petrol resulting in savings in foreign exchange, assist in the development of the Greenbelt Initiative by increasing the hectarage under sugarcane and other crop production as raw materials, agro-processing, and manufacturing, reduce reliance on imported petroleum fuel and shift focus to locally produced fuels resulting in energy security in the long term. “

The document continues saying, “On top of all this, Ethanol produced from sugarcane molasses and other biomass raw materials is classified as a renewable form of energy and therefore reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also improves urban air quality because it produces lower tailpipe emissions of toxic gases.

“The research results on use of ethanol as vehicle fuel said ethanol increases engine torque (power) as compared to petrol hence allows vehicles to be driven in high gear when ascending steep slopes and results therefore in reduced vehicle fuel running costs.”

The only problem is that price for ethanol fuel is pegged together with petrol which is imported with a negligible difference of K5. Ethanol which is locally produced with very little expenditure in production costs, is surprisingly equated to imported fuel in pricing.

Kalowekamo said that this is one of the issues his Ministry is looking at together with Ministry of finance and he accepted that it is an anomaly.

Currently, the fuel the country uses is a blend of 20% ethanol and 80% imported petroleum fuel but Government approved that the ethanol must dominate in the blend as the country goes towards use of almost 100% ethanol.

Ethanol is currently produced from sugarcane molasses by ETHCO Ltd in Nkhotakota and PRESSCANE Ltd in Chikwawa. Combined annual production from both plants is about 18 million litres against total potential plants capacity of 32 million litres.

Estimated annual fuel requirements for petrol driven vehicles for the country is 198.6 million litres by this year 2015. Maintaining the blending ratio of 20:80 (ethanol/ petrol), then an estimated 37 million litres of ethanol is required to meet the demand for blending this year.

In the implementation document, it was targeted that by this year, 2015 7.5% of vehicles running would be vehicles designed to run on ethanol (through importation and conversion of existing vehicles) then the total ethanol requirement this year would have been 49 million litres.

To meet this target, it was therefore required to increase ethanol production from the current 18 million (though maximum plant production is 32 million litres) to 49 million litres this year.

Unlike Government, which seems to be inactive ever since they unveiled the implementation plan, the private sector is quite ahead as Ethanol Company has disclosed that it is venturing into additional feed stock project to supplement molasses to enable them produce at maximum capacity.

This was disclosed by the production Manager of Ethanol Company, Derek Zamaere. He was speaking recently at a District Executive Committee (DEC) meeting held at Linga EPA in the district.

He said Mini mills will be constructed in the area of Chief Mphonde to process sugarcane into syrup for ethanol production.

During the presentation, Zamaere said the project will assist in job creation to over 500 people, will also increase fuel security in the country, and save on Forex and many other advantages.

“From the earlier study we had, we saw that about 500-600 jobs will be created in agriculture alone, and apart from that, business such as transportation, housing and grocery stores will be attracted, and with such developments the community will definitely benefit a lot,” said Zamaere.

Malawi like Brazil was one of the few countries that started producing ethanol on a commercial scale in the early 1980s. Brazil is now the world’s second largest producer of ethanol fuel, after the United States of America, because of deliberate government policy to promote increased ethanol use as a fuel. In contrast ethanol production in Malawi has not grown much since commercial production started in 1982.  – LINA

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35 thoughts on “Malawi ethanol-fuelled cars implementation plans drawn”

  1. David Maseko says:

    A Strategic plan for Ethanol production looks fine however if not implemented becomes a lip service. A project of such nature requires also community involvement through a small holding scheme offered to the citizens. Sugarcane farming is the simplest crop husbandry which doesn’t take high costs. Malawi has vast Dambos/valleys of which are underutilized.

    Get the local people involved on small holding scale so that they can benefit and alleviate the current poverty.
    Good Luck.
    In diaspora.

  2. mthakati says:

    If 100% ethanol is made available at the gas pump is it possible some Nyasas will start drinking tis stuff?

  3. Mendulo says:

    I hope this is not just lip service and that these good plans will actually be implemented. I recall a few years ago as we were coming to the end of the year, the nation was informed that come January the following year ethanol would be made readily available at filling stations, that some new model cars were made ready to use 100 percent ethanol or any combination with petrol and that owners of older model vehicles would need to buy a gadget at MK5,000 that would be fitted into their cars to enable them become ethanol fuel ready. January of the following year came and went and nothing happened and there was not even an explanation as to why this plan failed or when it was going to be implemented. We always face these disappointments and lack of feed back from the would be implementers. Just recently we were being informed that come 1 January 2015, the country would go digital TV broadcasting as per United Nations (and SADC) requirements. We are approaching mid January 2015 but our TV broadcasters are still using analogue. The country has missed the bus for migrating from analogue to digital broadcasting (of course some channels have partnered with DSTV and GOTV to broadcast digitally, but these services [DTSV, GOTV] are not accessible to all Malawians). And as typical of Malawian institutions as the example of ethanol above, no explanation whatsoever from MACRA or Government on the failure or the reasons and what the future holds (on digital broadcasting).

  4. wokwiya says:

    But this kalowekamo drinks alot of ethanol in Gulliver. Will there be no competition with his own ethanol driven car?

  5. Amidu says:

    @least beta

  6. James says:

    Umbuli ndi matenda dziko la malawi likudandaula pafupi mwezi ulionse kamba kosowa mafuta mziko,ma transport kuvuta,anthu kuchita kugona pamdzele wa mafuta ili ndi vuto lalikulu.tsonu ngati m’nyanja muli mafuta akumbe…!tipezdze ndalama, mwai wa ntchito komanso mayendedwe otsika mtengo.think about it,,,nsomba dzizakhalabe mpaka muyaya…..common! Malawi…….

  7. Mapholisa says:


  8. Clement mphasa says:

    This issue surely will ensure proper flow of finance

  9. Du says:

    Started in 2012 to 2013 and now continuing. Makani yawemi chomene!

  10. OBAMA says:



  11. But do we have enough sugarcane to sustain this ? Its a good move. But I know ena aikapo chiphazi pamenepa kuopa kuti pena pake ziwajamila.

    Tisamve kuti programuyi yaimila panjira?

  12. Sake Chilling says:

    This is the way to go for Malawi, instead of the misguided notion of oil exploration in the lake – which is a marine environmental disaster in the making!

  13. Iyi ndiyo khani yabwino Osati nzeru zopusa zam’phonongolo zofuna kukumba kumba maenje Mnyanja ya lake Malawi ati Mdzina la Oil exploration Mulekeletu apusi abvumbwe amichila ngati Gulushwa ndisamve kuti wina wayambapo kuwononga Nyanja yathu yokongolayo apo biii Ndikulodzani Nonse Zachiphwisi ine ndimakana Muyerekeze mutawona.

  14. Pichi says:

    I would not mind paying the same price per litre of fuel as far as the money remains in Malawi, other than go and finance these ISIS guys. Who owns ETHCO and PRESSCANE by the way?

    1. Wailing Soul says:

      ETHCO and PressCane are both owned by Press Corporation, Malawi’s largest conglomerate and one of the largest in the SADC region

  15. Kika Kanawe says:

    I doubt if it will come to fruition.This is just a concept that will never see the light of the day.After why do these people rush to publish ideas they hardly know how to implement.Shame!Shame!From head to toe.

  16. simighe says:

    I can see two political giants fighting over natural resources in the eastern part of the northern part of the 2018 there will be disasters at the southern region of the country.

  17. Muthu moneke says:

    As usual, good at laying out good and sound plans but miserable when it comes to taking steps to implement them. We don’t need planners now, what we are lacking are implementers.

  18. Kangankude says:

    Thats Malawian political leaders,,lacking vision to unlock potential forex earning industries like this one.Gud policies on paper jst rotting in offices,why cant Govnt divert the 60 billion kwacha spent evry yr on fisp to the implementatn of da greenbelt initiativ and small scale productn of sugarcane.Mw hs a potential to produce enough ethanl 4 local use & exptatn.unless w chang our mindset Mw wil never dvp…

  19. jaan says:

    Though Good for old cars but very bad and destructive for new cars and ethanol burns much faster then refined petrol so less miles per liter

  20. Kwangwagwa says:

    Yambaniponi ethanol, koma mutengo mutsitse. Anthu tione kusiyana komanso kusinthika pa moyo wathu pa za chuma.

  21. Malawiana says:

    Good ideas but as usual implementation will not materialise as is always the case with Malawian concepts. If Greenbelt Initiative can simply die at concept paper level what more with these smaller, ill funded and not so coherent initiatives?

  22. kwabaniso says:

    Nothing will come out of this exploration simply because these Malawian thieves will not benefit as cashgate. They want to lie to the nation, that have contracted surestream company to procure fuel at this much, yet they go abroad and cash into their pockets. 1982 its long way back, before Kamuzu died. Malawi could have beaten Nigeria by now and supply ethanol to Zambia, Zimbabwe, DRC etc and earn more revenue and stop this nonsense of being donor-aid dependent nation. Many ideas but foolish people in the fore-front to implement. See!!! the Cabinet approved it in 2012, surely I do believe it was when CHITSULO cha NJANJI was alive, coz he was a true-son of Malawi like MUGABE to say stupid in the face of a white person, had wanted to turn things around for Malawi. Since he died the approval was shelved for cashgate instead by Joyce Mtila Banda. Now that the younger brother is on the driving seat, we hear it is fetched from the dust-shelf. You Kalowekamo, love your country and make this happen. In fact I know your father, the once geography secondary school teacher now working with wild-life.

  23. Angozo says:

    Go ahead we are looking for that development, I tell you God loves this country, believe me or not it will not take 10 years this country will be rich regardless of who rules it.

  24. Alungwana says:

    I was there 9 years ago at Lilongwe Technical College when the first ethanol propelled pajero was tested. I wonder why up to now we are failing to implement the ethanol fuel yet we have alot of Nissan Tildas which are being propelled by this Ethanol. Ask Chilalika of Lilongwe Technical and he will tell you what is really happening. Kapena you want to continue eating the allowances? Wake up Malawi. Dont wait for the whiteman to come and implement it for us.

  25. Pacharo says:

    Good news!

  26. T Makono says:

    This is welcome news but I don’t think ethanol companies in Malawi are ready.

    It is surprising that ethanol companies have been operating at less than 50% due to inadequate molasses and between January and May there is no blending. But this year Ethanol has enough of it to enable the plant run when Illovo are on shut down. Management of The company have decided to shut down production until May 2015. This does not make business sense and one wonders what kind of management would do that. Prof should wake up and sort out this mess otherwise no one will take the producers seriously.

    It therefore means that molasses was just a scapegoat and that the company has other constraints which management is failing to address. Rumour has it that the current management was hand picked and so inexperienced.

    Please government should investigate this before making such pronunciations to the nation, there is more work to be done on the supply side.

  27. bons says:

    we are the most stupid country in the world. this is one project which can benefit malawians and yet the government is playing hide and seek with ethco. how can the price of imported fuel equal to ethanol? let the government start converting all its vehicles to be driven by ethanol and force filling stations to start selling ethanol or risk being closed within a specified period

  28. HardHardy says:

    Gud move

  29. Patriot says:


    1. Sake Chilling says:

      I support Patriot 100%!

  30. Pangani mwachangu anthu inu osangokamba malawi must develop ok

  31. Munthuwazeru says:

    Kuchenjera zitalumakale kumeneku

  32. Dan says:

    Our country is a blessed land.

    Let small holder farmers maximise sugarcane production so that we have higher volumes of ethanol for vehicle fuel.

    Malawi has a potential to rise up economically.

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