Munyaradzi Musiiwa, Business Reporter
THE National Oil Infrastructure Company (NOIC) will soon establish a 10 000-hectare sugarcane plantation in Chiredzi for the production of ethanol.

The move is meant to break the monopoly in the production of ethanol for the fuel blending. Although Tongaat Hulett in the Lowveld is also producing ethanol, only Green Fuel in Chisumbanje produces ethanol for blending.

In an interview, NOIC board chairman Engineer Daniel McKenzie Ncube said the parastatal was in negotiation with the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) who are the owners of the land earmarked for the plantation which would be irrigated using water drawn from Tugwi-Mukosi Dam in Chivi.

“NOIC has approached DTZ so that we can utilise 10 000 of their land in Chiredzi where we want to set up a sugarcane plantation. We want to play a critical role in the production of ethanol in the country.

“We know there has been a monopoly on the production of ethanol in the country. The producers have not been very flexible in terms of their prices. What we are going to do is to start producing ethanol so that we also intervene in terms of fuel pricing.

“We got the letter of support from Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira. We are confident that we will start the production now,” he said.

Eng McKenzie Ncube said NOIC would also be utilising Tugwi-Mukosi Dam water to irrigate the 10 000 ha. DTZ is a trust company which controls the Nuanetsi Ranch, which straddles over 100 000 hectares.

Eng McKenzie Ncube said Zimbabwe has approached countries in the region proposing to become a fuel hub which will see the country storing fuel for countries mostly in South African Development Committee (Sadc) block.

He said NOIC invited ambassadors of countries in the region to see the country’s fuel storage infrastructure before presenting the proposal of becoming a regional fuel hub.

Eng McKenzie Ncube said Zimbabwe has the capacity to become a regional fuel hub due to each geographical centrality as well as existing fuel storage infrastructure.

“As NOIC we have advanced plans to turn Zimbabwe into the regional fuel hub. We believe that we are strategic because of our geographical location.

“We also have infrastructure in the country. We can supply the whole region with competitive fuel prices right up to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In pursuant of being an energy hub on Wednesday last week we hosted ambassadors and showed them our infrastructure.

“We also shared our vision with them. We seem to be in sync regarding our vision. They being receptive,” he said.

He said the ambassadors were accompanied by the Ministries of Energy and Foreign Affairs and International Trade. He said the introduction of the foreign currency auction system has paralysed the fuel black market which in turn has stabilised fuel prices in the country.

“We must thank the auction system. It has worked beyond our expectations. The auction system resulted in the stabilisation of local currency against the US dollar. It has become easy for us to procure fuel. Also the auction system has also paralysed the fuel black market. We have adequate fuel,” he said.