16 September 2014, Abuja – The National Sugar Development Council, NSDC, said the sugar sector could contribute 411 megawatts of electricity to the national grid, in line with the federal government’s quest to boost energy supply in the country.
The NSDC Executive Secretary, Dr. Lateef Busari, disclosed this in Abuja when he led a delegation of the council on a visit to the Director General, National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, Dr. Paul Orhii.
Busari said the move by the council would also create over 115,000 direct jobs and production of 161 million litres of ethanol.
He said, “Sugarcane is now seen as an energy crop through the production of sugar. The sugar industry will be able to generate electricity and also to produce ethanol which can be used in running vehicles.”
According to him, “The new and profitable sugar industry which is set to emerge by 2020 to 2022, will see the creation of over 115,000 direct jobs, the production of 161 million litres of ethanol and production of 411MW of electricity through cogeneration.
“For every tonne of cane which is processed, approximately 11 units of energy can be extracted from the sugarcane plant. About 70 litres per tonne cane can be fermented into ethanol from the sugar in the cane, representing about 14 per cent of the total energy content.
“Another 0.33 of methane can be generated per tonne cane via the anaerobic digestion of the liquid by-products of fermentation, boosting the sugar-juice’s energy contribution up to 17 per cent.
“Expanding sugarcane cultivation for electricity and ethanol production might also provide rural employment opportunities and could help mitigate the exodus of rural workers into the cities.
The direct capital investment required for creating new jobs in cane energy is 10 per cent to 25 per cent of that required in mining or petrochemical.”
He further said that the government has increased local production and utilisation of the commodity.
“Last year, we imported about 1.3million metric tonnes and it is because the prices were lower, so the refineries that are refining the raw sugar which we were importing were able to increase their capacity utilisation. Capacity utilisation jumped from 60 per cent to 75 per cent that means they processed more sugar. More people were buying sugar because the price was lower.
“Our priority is simple, to ensure self-sufficiency in sugar production. In other words, it is to ensure that Nigeria is able to produce all the sugar it consumes. We believe that it is an achievable target because we have all that is required to be able to produce sugar.
“We have the human capacity, we have the land, and we have over nine million hectares of land, of which 80 per cent is arable. We have the good weather, we have good soil, sugarcane needs a lot of water and we have a sizeable source of water,” Busari said.