RWANDA – Eni, the Italian energy company, has signed an agreement with the Government of Rwanda through the National Industrial Research and Development Agency, to undertake a pilot project for the production of a variety of for oil seeds crops and the use of drones for soil analysis and crop monitoring.
The seeds to be produced will be used in the agri-feedstock initiatives launched by Eni in other African countries to cultivate sustainable raw materials on degraded and abandoned land, not in competition with the food chain.
The project, which represents the first ‘open-air laboratory’ on the African continent, will use the most advanced precision farming techniques to produce quality seeds.
The parties will collaborate to disseminate these technologies and create synergies with the country’s start-ups.
Commenting on the signing, Luigi Ciarrocchi, CCUS Eni, Forestry and Agro-Feedstock Director, said, “Just 7 months after the memorandum of understanding with the Rwandan institutions, we are launching the activities in the sectors of common interest.
“We will work jointly to develop concrete projects for the country’s decarbonisation, leveraging a business environment that is ideal to text innovative solutions and agribusiness activities generating high-added value.”
The signing of the agreements kicks off Eni’s activities in Rwanda, in continuity with the memorandum of understanding signed with the government on 8 April 2022, capitalising on the country’s know-how in the technology and agriculture sector, which employs more than 60% of the workforce and contributes 25% of GDP.
The initiative is related to the recently launched production of vegetable oil at its Makueni agri-hub in Kenya, with an installed capacity of 15,000 tons, utilizing locally sourced castor, croton and cottonseeds as raw materials.
The Kenyan unit exported its first batch of vegetable oil for biorefining to its Gela bio-refinery in Sicily in October.
Production of biofuel is part of the global shift to clean fuels and cut reliance on expensive fossil fuels, thus reduce carbon emissions that have significantly polluted the environment.
The company plans to gradually involve the other African countries and geographic areas where they are carrying out these projects including Rwanda, Mozambique, Angola, Ivory Coast, Benin, and Kazakhstan.
For these countries, as well as for Italy, feasibility studies have been launched in the most mature realities aiming at carrying out a first phase of agricultural activities before the year ends and then proceeding with the construction of seeds pressing plants for bio-refining.
In addition to vegetable oil, Eni also plans to export the Used Cooking Oil (UCO) collected from hotel chains, restaurants, and bars.
This will be done through a project already underway that promotes the culture of recycling, raising awareness of the environmental and health benefits that derive from the proper disposal of waste oil, and generating income from waste.
By 2025, the company aims to cover 35% of its biorefineries’ supply thanks to the vertical integration of the agri-feedstock and waste&residue chain, which will enable it to secure volumes of vegetable oil in a challenging environment in terms of prices, growing energy demand and availability of sustainable.