Did you know that deforestation in Africa is twice the world rate, and could lead to loss of animals, plants, their habitats and disrupt weather patterns? Biomass Energy Initiative for Africa (BEIA) launched a new project called Promotion of Charcoal Briquette in Tanzania to help communities turn agricultural waste into clean burning, hot and cheaper charcoal briquettes in order to reduce reliance on forests for traditional wood charcoal. BEIA is administered by the World Bank Africa Energy Unit (AFTEG), under Energy Sector Management Assistance Program's (ESMAP), Africa Renewable Energy Access (AFREA) Trust Fund, supported by the Government of the Netherlands.
Charcoal briquettes offer an economical solution to the rising costs of cooking fuel in cities, and are produced from crop waste and other dry biomass. Most African countries still depend heavily on wood to meet basic energy needs, and wood accounts for about 90 percent of their primary energy consumption. A lack of modern and affordable energy source, such as gas, electricity and solar power, makes wood charcoal and firewood the preferred sources of domestic cooking fuel, but this is impacting the environment in selected situations through deforestation and soil degradation.
This new charcoal briquette making project will provide an alternative to cutting precious forests for fuel. It will use robust technology to make charcoal powder or briquettes from crop waste and other dry biomass which are cleaner and affordable for most Tanzanians, in collaboration with existing charcoal producers.
About 1800 people will be trained and equipped to produce charcoal briquettes through this project, in the next two years. One innovative feature of the program is that it offers trained charcoal briquette-makers a guaranteed market and fair price for charcoal powder or briquettes they produce. The program will teach participants to fabricate charcoal stoves, and process pyrolysing agricultural waste into char powder, which is in turn used for producing charcoal briquettes. Training will be carried out in co-operation with local governments, and international and local NGOs.
- Web article: Biomass: Meeting Sub Saharan Africa’s Energy Needs
- The World Bank Africa Energy Unit: Energy in Africa
- Appropriate Rural Technology Institute, Tanzania (ARTI)