Kenya: Charcoal is consumed by all, yet sourcing & manufacture is illicit

There is a dynamic market for charcoal throughout the country; and
although large quantities of the product is consumed annually, the
production and transportation of charcoal has remained invisible,
unregulated, disorganised and characterised by corrupt practices,
giving the industry a semi-illegal status and a negative image, forest
stakeholders have said. Kenya loses over Kshs 5.1 billion (USD 0.4
billion) annually as a result of not having any regulatory and VAT tax
collection mechanisms for the charcoal industry.

According to D.K.
Mbugua, Director Kenya Forest Service, since the high value of
charcoal is not captured in the national economic statistics, it
remains a low profile industry, a status that makes it difficult to
access funds for its development. He adds that the charcoal industry
in Kenya employs over 700,000 people who support over 2 million
dependants. According to PS Ministry for Forestry and Wildlife Mr.
Mohammed A M Wa-Mwachai, the production and transportation of charcoal
has remained unregulated yet large quantities are consumed annually.

“The challenge is to fully commercialize the production and marketing
of woodfuel, including charcoal”, said the Permanent Secretary in the
Ministry. He said the forest sector is currently developing strategies
to realize sustainable production and efficient utilization of
woodfuel, promotion of efficient wood energy technologies and the use
of alternative forms of energy and the regulation of the production
and marketing of charcoal. Arid and Semi arid areas provide the
biggest source of charcoal for energy in urban areas but the methods
of production and tree resource utilization have not always been
consistent with the norms of sustainable forest resource management.
According to the PS, annual turnover in the Kenya’s charcoal industry
is valued at upwards of Kshs 32 billion fueled by the fact that 82% of
urban dwellers in Kenya depend on charcoal as a fuel source.
http://africasciencenews.org/asns/index.php/20090123966/News/Latest/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=964&Itemid=2

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