FG Launches Cassava-Based Ethanol Plant In Ekiti State

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L-R: The representative of the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Innovation Science and Technology (FMIST), Mr. Tanko Ashang, SAN; FMIST Minister, Chief Uche Nnaji; and director-general, Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, Dr. Jummai Tutuwa after the ceremony at the ministry headquarters in Abuja.

In a groundbreaking move to boost Nigeria’s bio-energy value chain, the Federal Ministry of Innovation Science and Technology (FMIST) has partnered with Montserrado Investments Limited and the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) to establish a cassava-based ethanol plant in Ekiti State.

The collaboration was formalised through a memorandum of cooperation (MoC) signed in Abuja.

The FMIST Minister, Chief Uche Nnaji highlighted the significance of this collaboration, stating, “Today’s agreement is a testament to our collective efforts to support the Nigerian government’s commitment to transitioning to clean cooking fuel. By facilitating the production and use of ethanol derived from cassava, we are taking a vital step toward reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and embracing renewable energy sources.”

This initiative underscores the ministry’s commitment to advancing Nigeria’s bio-energy value chain and promoting sustainable development. Nnaji noted that Nigeria stands to save over $30 million annually by reducing the importation of ethanol and kerosene. He emphasized that the cassava-to-ethanol industry represents a powerful engine for economic growth by supporting local farmers, creating a sustainable supply chain, and stimulating employment across the agricultural sector.

“Moreover,” Nnaji continued, “promoting import substitution through the development of a domestic ethanol production industry is critical for our national economic strategy. By reducing reliance on imported cooking fuels, we are safeguarding our economy against global market fluctuations and fostering self-reliance. This directly supports the President’s ‘Renewed Hope’ agenda to unlock energy and natural resources for sustainable development.”

The minister urged stakeholders to continue working collaboratively to achieve shared goals of economic prosperity, environmental sustainability, and social well-being. He assured that the cassava ethanol plant would benefit the nation by harnessing the cassava value chain. 

Governor Biodun Oyebanji of Ekiti State, represented by the Commissioner of Innovation, Seun Fakuase expressed enthusiasm for the project. He highlighted that Ekiti State has over 30,000 hectares of land dedicated to cassava farming. Fakuase emphasized the plant’s role in pioneering Nigeria’s Bio-Energy Value Chain initiative.

The project aims to harness the economic potential of the cassava-to-ethanol industry, providing significant benefits such as job creation, economic growth, reduced reliance on imported cooking fuels, and expanded implementation across Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones.

“If we start with Ekiti State using about 500 tonnes of cassava every day to produce about 50,000 litres of ethanol, it will save us a lot of money,” said Nnaji.

The CEO of Montserrado Investments Limited, Ifeanyi Ajuluchukwu assured that the agency will build a 500-tonne cassava metric plant to convert cassava into 50,000 litres of ethanol. Ajuluchukwu revealed that the plant will create value for farmers and be expanded to all six geopolitical zones across the country within 12 months.

Montserrado Investments Limited, a project advisory and development firm focused on energy infrastructure in emerging markets, is currently developing a 50,000 litres per day ethanol distillery in Ekiti State.

CEO of FIIRO, Dr. Jummai Tutuwa underscored the collaboration’s significance, stating, “Today marks the beginning of a transformative journey, one that exemplifies the power of collaboration between research institutions and state governments. Through this MoC, we are not only investing in bioethanol production but also in the future of Ekiti State and Nigeria as a whole. Together, we are making a bold statement that sustainable development, driven by science and technology, is the pathway to prosperity.”

Ekiti State is strategically positioning itself to harness bioethanol production as a key driver for economic transformation. Tutuwa highlighted that the benefits from this collaboration extend across multiple dimensions, including economic growth, energy security, agricultural development, skill acquisition, and technology transfer.

FIIRO will provide research and technical support to ensure the adoption of advanced technologies in ethanol production and support various socio-economic development initiatives.

Special Adviser to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment, John Uwajumogu stressed the need to convert agricultural resources into energy resources. “By developing our local capacity to utilize our agricultural products, we create industry and address one of the key challenges that this country faces, which is energy.”

This initiative represents a strategic effort to leverage Nigeria’s agricultural potential for energy production, fostering sustainable development and economic resilience.

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