02 July, 2007

With Sudan in Mind

A comment for my last post from Abdulmuhib, got me in to thinking. And wondering. The Arab world seems to be oblivious of Climate Change and the fight against it. In all the forums, protests and demonstrations taking place around the world on Climate Change - the Arab voice has been almost non existent and least heard of. No Arab country or entity seems to take Climate Change seriously. Not even the Arab League. Why is the Arab World so lethargic on such an important an issue? An issue that will effect each and every one of us on this Planet? An issue that's already causing havoc around the World?

Back to Abdulmuhib's comment: 'Yemen has another great resource, as dose Saudia and the other Gulf countries- sun. Oil is bad- it is running out, and it is destroying the planet. Solar energy is healthy, and we won't run out of it for another few billion years. And there's a lot of desert out there.' Precisely. The most abundant resource in the Arab World is the Sun. And as in the Arab World's inaction to the effects of Climate Change, the Arab World is ignoring the use of its greatest and most sustainable resource for energy: the Sun. It's comforting and relieving to know that the U.A.E is planning to build in Abu Dhabi, the biggest, 500 megawatt, solar power plant in the region. I do hope that, as in other ventures and projects that the U.A.E has undertaken and lead the way - the rest of the Arab World will follow; and try to use more and more: Solar power. And then, there is: Sudan.

For me, Sudan is an enigma. Of all the Arab countries, Sudan could easily have been one of the wealthiest, if not the wealthiest. It has all the necessary resources to achieve that: an educated and hard working people, abundant arable land, abundant water and many minerals. And plenty of sunshine. And now: oil. Not only that - Sudan is the only Arab country that, honestly and truly, tried to take a real democratic path. And failed. Why? What went wrong? Why didn't it continue with that democratic process?

Sudan, not only has plenty of oil now; but it too, has one of the world's largest sugarcane plantations: the Kenana Sugar Company. Sugar cane, which ethanol is derived from. Ethanol which seems, now, to be the fuel of the future. Even though Sudan has oil: why doesn't it start an ethanol programme similar to Brazil's? And become an ethanol power? And: like all Arab countries, Sudan has abundant sunshine, which too - Sudan can use to its advantage. Like the U.A.E's wise decision to tap Solar power, though it has huge oil reserves - Sudan too, can exploit its other most important energy resources: sugarcane and the Sun. Imagine what would be of Sudan if it can use all these resources wisely and constructively. But first, Sudan has to get its house in order and in peace.

Footnote: after writing the above, I came across this. Sudan is planning to become a major sugar, ethanol producer. Sudan, which produces 330,000 barrels per day of crude oil, is expected to legalise the blending of ethanol with petrol in July. Brazil, the biofuel leader is co-operating with several African countries on how best to achieve the transition towards bioenergy and biofuels. I understand: 'Sudan is actually teaming up with Brazil to develop ethanol. From next year, when the facility is ready, they’ll be producing 60 million litres a year at Kenana and in the next few years, White Nile Sugar Company will be producing ethanol in the hundreds of millions of litres annually. The country has plans to put in 5% mandatory blending and there’s even a 10-year biofuel plan.'