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Angola's parliament on Wednesday approved a new law to regulate the production of biofuels, opening the way for multi-billion dollar investments in the sector.
The African nation, which rivals Nigeria as the continent's top oil producer, hopes the move will help lessen its dependence on oil and develop a farming sector wrecked by an almost three-decade long civil war that ended in 2002.
Oil Minister Botelho de Vasconcelos said several foreign firms were interested in investing in sugar and ethanol production in Angola and dismissed fears that the land used to grow biofuel crops would displace small-scale farmers.
"This new law will help us attract foreign investment. This is a historical step for Angola," said Botelho de Vasconcelos shortly after the law was approved by parliament. "We need to diversify our sources of energy."
Last year, Angola's state oil company Sonangol, Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht and private Angolan group Damer began planting sugar cane in a 30 000 hectare (74 000-acre) site in Malange in the country's first ever biofuel project.
With the new legislation, the ethanol produced by the project can be used in cars. Other sub-Saharan African nations like South Africa and Mozambique are also ramping up their ethanol production.
Under the new law, foreign companies which invest in biofuels must sell to state-owned oil firm Sonangol part of their biofuels production to satisfy Angola's internal consumption needs.
Additional information: Full story at EngineeringNews
News date: 24/03/2010