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Brazil, west Africa agree to lobby for bio-fuels

by Staff Writers
Ouagadougou (AFP) Oct 17, 2007
Brazil and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) have agreed to push for the development and use of biofuels, the regional bloc said on Wednesday after a visit to Burkina Faso by President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva.

Brazil, the world's leading ethanol supplier and the eight-nation bloc agreed to work towards the generation of biofuels in the region, said a statement from UEMOA.

Under the deal, UEMOA and Brazil will seek partners in the Third World countries and international institutions that support and help promote the use of biofuels within UEMOA.

During a visit to Burkina Faso on Monday, Brazil's Lula called on Africa to join a biofuels "revolution" to democratise access to energy across the continent and help fight global warming.

But UN agriculture experts and others have also voiced concern that cultivating biofuel crops may cause a steep hike in prices for basic foods in the coming years, since farmers may switch from cultivating vital food crops to biofuel ones.

In a recent report, the UEMOA, which comprises mainly non-oil producing countries in the region, warned that biofuel production could not be the only solution to Africa's energy problems as it would remain marginal and could not replace traditional crude oil, but simply complement petroleum.

While several African countries, including South Africa, Senegal and the Democratic Republic of Congo, have launched biofuel projects in recent years, the industry remains relatively rare on Africa.

UEMOA groups Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Togo, Mali and Senegal.

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