His Excellency, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu launched the Kawambwa Ethanol and Power Project in December 2015 in an effort to diversify the economy into value-added agriculture and this project directly contributes to the government’s objectives with:
1. A Cassava out-grower program for up to 20,000 rural farmers.
2. Import substitution of 120 million litres of petroleum per year, delivering a foreign exchange saving of approximately US$100,000,000.00.
3. 600 skilled jobs at the factory and in administration.
4. 32 Megawatts of power that can be utilised by local businesses or exported to the national grid.
The project has been designed and developed as a benchmark for sustainable investment in Africa and in accordance with EU, World Bank and African Development Bank standards.
Sunbird Bioenergy has acquired 20,000 Ha of land on the Luena Farm Block to develop a cassava nursery and rural out-grower program. The company has designed an agricultural program that is forecast to produce 600,000 tonnes of cassava feedstock for the bioethanol plant. The Cassava nursery is expected to employ 80 specialist workers, whilst the majority of the cassava will be produced by up to 20,000 small scale farmers and rural out-growers.
Ethanol and Power Plant:
The design of the biorefinery and power plant is based upon a project recently completed by China New Energy in Thailand. The plant is capable of processing multiple feedstocks including cassava, molasses and sugarcane into anhydrous bioethanol for the transportation fuel market and potable alcohol for consumption. The plant is designed to produce 120 million litres of bioethanol per annum and will have an electricity production capacity of 32MW.
Cassava has been selected as a sustainable feedstock for the project, because it is easy to grow and is regarded as participative feedstock because the economics are the same for small scale farmers and industrial farmers alike making it suitable for out-grower programs in Africa.
Sunbird Bioenergy is developing an innovative out-grower program that will enable small-scale rural farmers to start their own sustainable business producing and selling cassava feedstock to the company for the life of the plant. And for the project to reach its full capacity, it is necessary to increase Cassava production in Luapula Province.