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March 31, 2010

Angola approves biofuel law

Angola's parliament has approved a law meant to support biofuel production, as the government tries to diversify the economy which currently depends on oil, national radio said.

"Biofuels will create jobs and a renewable supply of energy for the future," oil minister Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos told parliament, in remarks broadcast on radio.

The law sets out rules for producing biofuels and regulates the role of foreigners in the industry.

Agriculture Minister Afonso Pedro Kanga noted concerns that developping biofuels could harm Angola's efforts to revive food crops, after most of the nation's farms were abandoned during the 27-year civil war that ended in 2002.

He told the lawmakers that only "marginal" lands would be allowed to produce biofuels, saying the most fertile lands would be reserved for food production.

The UN Food and Agriculture Office last year voiced concern about foreign investors leasing African lands to produce crops for export, at the expense of water and food supplies for locals.

Under the new law, foreign companies that invest in biofuels will have to ensure that the local populations have access to water, basic services and medical care.

Foreign firms will also be required to sell a portion of their biofuels to the state oil company Sonangol to supply the local market.

Although Angola vies with Nigeria as Africa's top oil producer, it does not refine enough fuel to meet the national demand.


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