Mutomba Ngoma: The Zambian Man Who Turned Cooking Oil To Fuel


Mutomba Ngoma is proof that there is a problem in society that everyone is capable of solving.

Mutomba Ngoma had a passion for aeronautical engineering, which he studied in the UK until he returned to Zambia. Upon his return, Ngoma would later decide to delve into the production of bio fuel.

Ngoma’s career path changed when he decided he wanted to earn a sustainable income and do a job that was fulfilling. Finding a job in the UK was difficult and it was at this stage he discovered the importance of bio fuel.

By watching a documentary on Brazil’s renewable energy advances on bio fuel, he thought he had found the answer to his aspiration and also a solution to Zambia’s fuel shortages.

“I realised that if I did something the world needs, I’d put myself in a stable financial position,” he explained to How we made it in Africa.

When he returned to Zambia he began learning how to make bio fuel with the help of the internet.

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The vegetable oil waste needed to make the bio fuel was gotten from hotels and restaurants in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. Mutomba Ngoma said a friend of his was the first to try out his first batch of bio diesel.

“He had just come back from studying in Australia, and we tested it in his car. It worked, and we were so excited.”

While that was a good start, Ngoma needed capital if he wanted his bio fuel business to kick off. He got a job at Zambia Airways as an aircraft technician. He made some contacts during his tenure there, enough to help with the start-up of his business.

His big break happened when one of his colleagues offered to test his bio fuel.

“I was asked to deliver some to one of his drivers, who tried it and liked it. And that’s how I entered into the public service vehicle market – supplying bus drivers. It was my break into the mass market.”

By 2011 however, things had quite changed with the new Zambian government. It caused demand for the used cooking oil to soar ultimately leading to a shortage in supply. Although Mutomba Ngoma and his company,Tapera still produce a limited amount of bio fuel for certain people, Tapera is more focused on soaps.

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Ngoma claims this has been more lucrative than the bio fuel business.

On his biggest lesson in business, Ngoma points at networking.

“For me the biggest business lesson I have learnt so far is the strength of networking and collaboration. Without working with other people in the industry, things would have taken much longer to get off the ground.”

Tapera industries also produces jatropha seeds, an alternative to the used cooking oil he formerly used to produce bio fuel.