Growth Energy Senior Vice President of Global Markets Craig Willis participated in a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria led by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky. The trade mission, based in Accra, Ghana, sought to build relationships and unlock potential new markets for U.S. commodity groups, and included buyer delegations from Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Senegal.

Pictured Above from left to right: Green Plains Inc. Head of International Ethanol Trading Brandon Thomas, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie Sullivan, Growth Energy Senior Vice President of Global Markets Craig Willis, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky, and Ag Counselor for the U.S. Embassy Charles Rush.

Joining Willis were representatives from Growth Energy member companies Archer Daniels Midland, Green Plains Inc., and Marquis Energy. These biofuel companies were able to offer feedback on their experience in the U.S. ethanol export make and discuss future opportunities with a wide array of groups, including with the Nigeria Cassava Growers Association (NCGA). In their meeting, the trade delegation and NCGA National President Segun Andewumi discussed the potential for ethanol fuel in the country and gained better insight into their market dynamics.

Pictured above: Nigeria Cassava Growers Association National President Segun Andewumi greets the U.S. delegation to Nigeria and shakes hands with Green Plains Inc. Head of International Ethanol Trading Brandon Thomas.

According to USDA, there are significant opportunities for ethanol in this group of West African nations, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria, and trade missions like these are critical to ensuring that these markets are open for U.S. biofuels. Both Ghana and Nigeria have seen growth in their ethanol imports over the past five years, despite not yet employing it for fuel use.

Nigeria is seeking to use ethanol to reduce their reliance on imports of foreign gasoline and provide a cleaner fuel option. A historically larger trading partner, the U.S. accounted for nearly 48 percent of Nigeria’s ethanol imports – 21 million gallons – in 2018, with that number also expected to grow as Nigeria’s auto fleet expands. Similarly, in Ghana, the import market for non-fuel U.S. ethanol has increased dramatically since 2014, from a mere $19,000 to over $5.5 million. As the country seeks to meet its Paris Agreement commitments, phase out toxic additives in its fuel, and reduce dependence on foreign oil, ethanol has the potential to help Ghana achieve its goals.

Following the conclusion of the trade mission, Censky said in a press call to reporters: “Here in West Africa they are using another product, MMT, as an octane enhancer other than ethanol. It is a product that has some corrosive effects, not only in the gas tanks and engines, but it also has some health and environmental issues, similar to what our own MTBE had in the United States. When we replaced MTBE in the United States, that created a great market for an octane enhancer like ethanol. And we’ve had a number of ethanol representatives on this trip exploring what those options might be.”

As we work to expand the global ethanol outlook, engaging stakeholders in countries large and small is critical to ensure a fair and open market for U.S. biofuels. These initial steps lay the groundwork for expanding biofuels use in countries interested in its economic and environmental benefits.

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