ZIMBABWEAN ETHANOL PRODUCER LOSING ITS ENGINEERS TO SIERRA LEONE

CHISUMBANJE, ZIMBABWE, June 18– A Zimbabwean ethanol producer, Green Fuel, has lost 20 of its engineers and artisans to Sierra Leone which has established a similar plant as the continent Africa makes strides in adopting the use of sustainable energy.

Green Fuel, a joint venture between the government’s Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) and businessman, Billy Rautenbach’s Macdom and Rating Investments, Green Fuel commenced operations five years ago in this town in Manicaland Province and employs more than 4,500 people.

Sierra Leone has also established a similar facility backed by funding from seven European countries and African development institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB) to the tune of 350 million US dollars.

“In the last three months, we have lost more than 20 engineers and artisans to Sierra Leone which has set up a similar plant,” said Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza. “We are like the training centre for Africa,” he moaned.

The West African country’s ethanol producer, which is linked to Swiss energy group Addax Bioenergy, reportedly offered the Zimbabwean engineers and artisans “irresistible packages” in remuneration.

Nyabadza, however, applauded huge investments the government made in its human resources development. Among Green Fuel’s lead engineers is University of Zimbabwe-trained Eric Berejena, who has been with the Chisumbanje ethanol producer since the time it started operations five years ago.

“Although the engineers were poached that has not stopped the project,” Nyabadza said, adding that the company would continue to recruit from the country’s pool of expertise.

Green Fuel is currently producing about 10 per cent of Zimbabwe’s fuel requirements and is pushing the government to increase mandatory blending of ethanol with petrol to 20 per cent.

Adoption of high blended fuels cuts the country’s fuel bill by up to 35 million US dollars annually.

SOURCE: NEW ZIANA

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