Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Malawi embraces ethanol as alternative fuel

Malawi embraces ethanol as alternative fuel


Masinkho Madanitsa checks the hood of his car to make sure everything is okay before he leaves for work in the morning. He uses ethanol to power his car.

Flexible fuel vehicles like his can run on either ethanol or petrol or a blend of both, Reuters reports.

“In effect, with that box there, with that conversion kit installed, I have made this car into what we call a flexi-fuel vehicle and can run on both ethanol and petrol or any mixture of the two,” he said.

One reason why one should go for ethanol is that it is an environmental friendly fuel. One it's renewable; it's a renewable fuel and also it burns better.

Malawian motorists are now enjoying cheaper, greener alternative ethanol-fueled cars amid economic hardships in the country.

Malawi launched a renewable fuels programme in 2015 as part of the government’s efforts to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil and move to cleaner energy sources.

Madanitsa was one of the first drivers to participate in the new programme.

“One reason why one should go for ethanol is that it is an environmental friendly fuel. One it’s renewable; it’s a renewable fuel and also it burns better,” he added.

Presscane Limited is a processing plant in Blantyre, Malawi. The company produces ethanol from sugarcane biomass, a by-product of the sugar manufacturing process.

Ethanol is an alcohol fuel made from plants such as corn, grasses or sugarcane.

“Malawi going the renewable energy route, will be in tandem with what is happening at a global level. And I think we can only say our contribution will be a major contribution to mitigating climate change issues with respect to Malawi; Malawi’s obligation at the international level,” explained Dr. Christopher Guta, General Manager of Presscane Limited.

Like most of the countries of the world, Malawi depends on petrol. Fuel shortages in the past have had a drastic impact on the economy of the small southern African nation. Hikes in petrol and diesel prices also affect the costs of goods and food.

“As a motorist I welcome this development and I know that I will save on fuel and take care of my family better,” said Henry Malange, a Blantyre resident.

An environmental expert, Chikumbusko Kaonga said ethanol reduces greenhouse-gas emissions and reduces dependence on foreign oil.

“Petrol has more dangers as compared to ethanol. So, even in ten years the dangers that we can get from using petrol far outweighs the ones that we can get from ethanol. So, ethanol, still comes first to me.”

However, critics of the programme said ethanol provides less energy than petrol and requires more frequent refueling, which reduces a car’s efficiency.

View more