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Page last updated at 00:46 GMT, Tuesday, 16 October 2007 01:46 UK

Lula promotes biofuels in Africa

By Tim Hirsch
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Brazil's President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva and Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore
President Lula was welcomed by Burkina Faso President Compaore

Brazilian President Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva has urged African countries to take up the use of biofuels as a way of improving their economic independence.

He is starting a four-nation tour of Africa, offering help from Brazil in developing biofuel technology.

By moving away from fossil fuels African countries can help tackle climate change without sacrificing economic growth, President Lula said.

The tour aims to widen the range of countries that produce biofuels.

This is the latest stage in an intensive global effort by President Lula to promote the use of biofuels which have powered Brazilian vehicles for 30 years.

Speaking in Burkina Faso, he said that a time when Africa was once again taking the path of economic growth ethanol and biodiesel could provide a way to guarantee the continent's energy autonomy and economic sovereignty.

Earlier this year Brazil signed a partnership with the United States to encourage ethanol production in central America and the Caribbean.

The big Brazilian sugar cane growers are keen to see ethanol develop as a global commodity while President Lula sees it as a way of increasing Brazil's influence in the developing world.

Some environmental groups in Brazil fear the rapid expansion of sugar cane plantations to grow ethanol could threaten sensitive ecosystems such as the Brazilian Savannah and indirectly the Amazon as cattle are displaced from other regions.



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