The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is making a substantial and strategic investment in Eni Kenya’s innovative biofuel project by injecting Sh31.96 billion ($210 million), manifesting as a senior loan. With this infusion of capital, Eni Kenya aims to strengthen its efforts towards the construction and operation of state-of-the-art agri-processing plants within the country—an exciting step forward for sustainable agribusiness.
The project, with a total projected cost of Sh32.41 billion ($213 million), has secured further support from the private sector lending arm of the World Bank. This commitment includes mobilizing an additional Sh11.41 billion ($75 million) from other lenders. As part of Eni Kenya’s pioneering biofuel initiative, they have entered collaborative agreements with third-party farmers and aggregators responsible for supplying oil seeds (also known as feedstock) to strategically positioned Eni-owned agri-processing plants in Makueni and Kwale counties.
Eni Kenya strategically plans to construct a third agri-processing plant in Nakuru County and contemplates the establishment of a fourth facility at an undisclosed location. The strategy hinges on biofuel production, involving the transformation of specific seeds into vegetable oils destined for exportation to Eni’s Italian bio-refineries. Following these steps diligently is crucial as they subsequently refine these oils further, culminating in the creation of diverse bio-energy products, marking a significant leap forward in sustainable energy practices.
Eni Kenya emphasizes its commitment to inclusive and community-oriented growth by extending its reach to over 200,000 smallholder farmers through contracted aggregators. The project’s heart lies in developing and overseeing supply chains for these agri-hubs, covering an expansive 200,000 hectares of oilseeds production.
The venture intriguingly adheres to International Sustainability and Carbon Certification, classifying the produced biofuels as advanced. This ensures their sourcing from “low indirect land-use change” feedstocks. Importantly, they cultivate these low-competition feedstocks like castor and croton on degraded lands ill-suited for food production or in rotation/intercropping with food crops, mitigating concerns about competition with food production.
In October 2022, Eni Kenya initiated a pivotal phase by shipping its first batch of vegetable oil for biorefining. This action served as an essential stride in the project’s pilot stage, demonstrating the potential of its production hub located in Makueni. With ambition driving them forward, they set rigorous targets: aiming to produce 2,500 tonnes of biofuel before December 31st, 2022, and an impressive figure—20,000 metric tons—by concluding not just one but two subsequent years, thereby cementing their commitment towards sustainable energy solutions on a large scale.
Aligning with the global paradigm shift towards clean fuels and reduced carbon emissions, this significant stride addresses the detrimental environmental impact of traditional fossil fuels. By blending biodegradable materials such as vegetable oils into conventional diesel fuel, biofuels provide a viable solution to diminish pollution levels.
Eni Kenya, committed to environmental conservation beyond biofuel production, intends to export used cooking oil from prominent establishments in Nairobi, including hotel chains, restaurants, and bars. This initiative underscores a holistic approach to sustainability, emphasizing recycling’s importance as an environmental footprint mitigator.