WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – Individual markets in Africa vary greatly, but the continent as a whole offers significant potential demand for U.S. ethanol exports. 

Brian Healy, U.S. Grains Council (USGC) manager of ethanol export market development, recently traveled to Kenya to evaluate and develop opportunities for U.S. ethanol in the continent and speak at a regional ethanol and sugar conference. There, he was able to engage with senior agricultural, energy and environmental ministry officials to learn more about ethanol production, use and trade across the region.

Healy explained that Kenya is a significant importer of finished gasoline, driven by an expanding middle class, high levels of development and access to capital. In addition, the country already has pro-ethanol policies in place, providing the foundation for ethanol use. 

“Kenya, which has had an ethanol mandate since 2010, is currently not blending ethanol into their fuel due to infrastructure constraints related to refining and blending as well as limited expansion in feedstock production,” Healy said. “However, opportunities for U.S. ethanol do exist in this and other African markets.”

The USGC is working to identify new market opportunities for U.S. ethanol in Africa, including promoting the development of pro-ethanol policies throughout the region and providing production and market information on the value of U.S. ethanol. 

While many African countries have opportunities to expand their own domestic feedstock production, U.S. ethanol is already making its way to these markets via the Persian Gulf, where greater refining capacity exists. According to a USGC-commissioned study, U.S. ethanol exports to the United Arab Emirates are being blended into gasoline and shipped to East African markets. 

The use of ethanol supports these countries in achieving goals related to reducing environmental pollution and improving air quality for human health in addition to providing economic value as an octane enhancer. These important components form the foundation of the Council’s global ethanol market development engagements and programs. 

To communicate these benefits, the USGC focuses on building relationships in the fuel and ethanol sectors by working with local industry to share with regulators lessons learned from the U.S. adoption of ethanol, particularly related to reducing air pollution and diversifying fuel supplies. 

“We are broadening our outreach by identifying and analyzing potential new markets and developing strategies tailored to the culture and conditions of each market,” Healy said. “At the same time, we are committed to our established markets in this truly global engagement.”