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For centuries charcoal has been used as a source of energy for domestic uses and industrial uses and with the growing increase in population the demand has doubled over the years with the increase in demand, the damage to the environment has also increased with time and thus a need for necessary measure to control further impact.
The demand for charcoal is expected to continue to grow in coming decades, especially in Africa driven by the triple effect of population growth, urbanization and the relative prices of alternative energy sources for cooking and heating.
With lack of affordable or accessibility to alternative fuels, especially in low-income countries continuous dependent on charcoal is inevitable.
The global production of wood charcoal was estimated at 52 million tons in 2015 According to the Charcoal Transition (2017) with Africa producing almost 62 percent of global charcoal followed by the Americas at 19.6 per cent.
In Africa out of the 32.4 million tons of charcoal produced, 42 per cent of was from eastern Africa, 32 percent from western Africa, 12.2 percent from central Africa, 9.8 percent from northern Africa and 3.4 percent from southern Africa.
East Africa as the leading producer of charcoal is headed by Tanzania which is one among the world’s top 10 charcoal producing countries in the world at number seven in 2015.
Other countries on the list includes Brazil, Nigeria, Ethiopia, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, China, Madagascar and Thailand.
Tanzanian forests are excessively threatened by increased charcoal production fueled by increased demand. The country losses 150,433 hectares of forest per year.
Due to increase in population by year 2030 almost 2.8 million hectares of forests will have been lost. This is equivalent to 8.5 per cent of the total forest cover the country had in 2009.
In Tanzania Mainland, 71.2 per cent of households use firewood as one among the sources of energy for cooking, followed by charcoal 37.0 per cent and kerosene 5.0 percent.
The total annual revenue generated by the charcoal sector for Dar es Salaam alone is estimated at $350 million, and the sector also generates employment and cash income for several hundred thousand people. Coffee and tea are estimated to contribute only $60 million and $45 million to the national economy, respectively.
Unregulated and unregistered activities in charcoal production and utilization lead to an estimated revenue loss of about US$100 million per year. The Forestry and Beekeeping Division (FBD) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT) has a financing gap between expenditures and revenues of about US$2 million.
In Kenya the charcoal sector employs nearly 900,000 people in production and trade, and has been estimated to contribute $1.6 billion per year to the economy.
Demand for wood is estimated at 41.7 million m3 per year, including 18.7 million m3 for fuel wood and 16.3 million m3 for charcoal, but the amount that can be harvested sustainably is estimated at just 31.4 million m3. That means that every year, Kenya is losing 10.3 million m3 of wood from its forests, a serious environmental concern.
About 1.6 million tons of charcoal are produced annually which translates to $400 million annually at current market prices. By 2013, the number of charcoal producers had gone up 25 per cent and stood at 253,808 producin g 2.5 million tons indicating a significant increase in the 5 year period.
The study commissioned by Kenya Forest Service estimates the value of charcoal trade stood at $1.6 billion in 2013, an almost 400 per cent increase in value. In 2013, an average producer dealing with 30 bags of charcoal earned $95 per month as compared to $2,150 for transportation.
16 million tons of wood are annually transformed into 1.8 million tons of charcoal in Uganda. But production is destructive, as charcoal producers often harvest whole trees from indigenous forests, believing that the bigger the logs, the better the charcoal.
Over 80 percent of the population in Uganda depends on biomass as their main source of energy. Charcoal is often preferred since it is affordable, burns with limited smoke and is easier to transport.
The 2015 National Charcoal Survey for Uganda concluded that vegetation cover significantly reduced from 45 per cent in 1990 to about 11.7 per cent in 2013 due to the ever increasing pressure and demand exerted by the rapid population growth and economic activities.
It is estimated that more than half of its forest cover has been lost in the past 30 years to charcoal production and its demand continues to increase.
Uganda yields more than 20,000 jobs from charcoal while firewood and charcoal contribution to Uganda’s GDP is estimated at $48 million and $26.8 million respectively (The 2015 National Charcoal Survey for Uganda).
Rwanda is the only country managing its forest resources quite well, with forest resource recovery of 117,000 hectares between 1990 and 2010.
The World Bank highlights that forests area occupied 12.9% of Rwanda’s land in 1990 and it had grown to 19.5% in 2015.
Although studies indicate that about 80 per cent of firewood used in the country is foraged (no cost for end users) and very little goes through the market economy with the continued lack of alternative energy sources such as LPG or electricity are leading to increased pressure on the available forest resources for firewood and charcoal.
In 2003, the charcoal market had a turnover of $30 million (World Bank 2006). The current trend towards increased urbanization and the declining state of forest resources points to the need to design effective policies to address some of the pressing challenges in the energy sector.
Rwanda is expected to continue using firewood which will be capped at 25 per cent for Kigali, 40 per cent for other urban areas and 90 per cent for rural areas and be suppressed progressively with the introduction of LPG and other alternatives including solar and thermal applications
Wood and charcoal cover 90 per cent of the country’s energy supply and the country suffers from an on-going deforestation of about 9 percent per annum – one of the world’s highest deforestation rates.
Between 1990 and 2010, Burundi lost an average of 5,850 ha or 2.02 per cent of forest per year. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Burundi lost 40.5 per cent of its forest cover, or around 117,000 ha with the crisis starting in 1993 functioning as a major contributor.
In 2010 only 6.7 per cent or 172,000 ha of Burundi was forested making it one of the most highly deficit country for firewood resources. Given the large dependency of Burundi’s households and communities on firewood for cooking, the energy technologies used are putting additional pressure on the scarce availability of firewood.
Given the large dependency of Burundi’s households and communities on wood fuel and charcoal, with firewood consumption accounting for 96 per cent of total consumption (rural—76 per cent; urban—24 per cent).
South Sudan’s charcoal production by weight was 272,000 tons contributing 0.5% of world wood fuel production, against the country population of over 12 million individuals (FAOSTAT,2015: South Sudan).
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reported a sharp rise in illegal activities in various areas of the young nation. The factors cited as immediate threat to South Sudan’s forests were illegal logging, gold mining and charcoal production, among others.
Sadly, however, these illegal activities were/are reportedly being perpetrated by local and international individuals and actors, including members of various armed groups active in the country.
A 2015 survey carried out jointly by UN Environment and the Government of South Sudan estimated that, in the capital Juba, 88 per cent of households, 74 per cent of businesses, and 40 per cent of institutions depend on charcoal energy.
Furthermore, 15 per cent of households, 8 per cent of businesses, and 40 per cent of institutions use fuelwood to supplement charcoal for cooking. This demand translates into an estimated five million trees being logged annually to supply Juba with charcoal it currently consumes.
According to the country’s inaugural State of the Environment Outlook Report, launched in June 2018, fuelwood and charcoal account for over 80 per cent of all wood used in South Sudan, with an annual deforestation rate estimated at between 1.5 and 2 per cent.
Generally the state of forest resources and biomass energy production capacity in the Eastern Africa sub region is sliding towards greater insecurity, with potential consequences of rising wood and charcoal prices, and greater concern about the long-term ability to sustain biomass supply.
With charcoal production still a big threat because it targets specific preferred species found in natural forests and woodlands, most of which are poorly managed.
Dar es Salaam. The available data show that at least 61 per cent of Tanzania’s land mass is on the brink of becoming a desert due to human activities associated with destruction of trees for charcoal,Photo Gallery | Session Video | Publication
Dar es Salaam. The available data show that at least 61 per cent of Tanzania’s land mass is on the brink of becoming a desert due to human activities associated with destruction of trees for charcoal, fire-wood and also irresponsible farming and livestock keeping.
Further, according to industry data, 88.2 per cent of households use charcoal as their main source of domestic energy and the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that charcoal is a Sh1.6 trillion industry in Tanzania.
All these evidences call for immediate response from across-range of stakeholders to help curb further threat to the environment.
By recognizing the situation, AngloGold-Ashanti Company which owns Geita Gold Mine (GGM), is in the process to provide different groups from 16 villages in Geita with machines designed to produce alternative cooking energy by using sawdust and other crop residues including rice pods.
AngloGold-Ashanti believes that by providing machines to villagers who are the main producers of charcoal and forest-based wood, will enable them switch to alternative and sustainable energy use.
AngloGold-Ashanti is one of the companies that sponsored Thursday 7 February’s third Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF) that brought together a cross section of interest groups in Dar es Salaam, to explore the dangers of charcoal use, the environment and suggest solutions to the problems.
The forum which is organized by Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) is an initiative of the media company to stimulate debate on critical issues of national development and also designed to bring together stakeholders to discuss joint solutions to challenges in the respective topics.
The Thursday’s forum was the third in planned MTLF series, following those of the burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and Tanzania Industrial realization vision.
In a special interview with The Citizen AngloGold-Ashanti Vice-President, Mr Simon Shayo said that amid the dangers brought in by the use of charcoal, they had the initiative that coordinates groups in the villages in Geita as a channel to join with other stakeholders in supporting the efforts by the government to protect the environment through the reduction of charcoal and wood use.
Shayo said that his company had already done an experimental research and proved that the initiative to provide residents with machines designed to produce alternative cooking energy, would help save more trees especially at the Geita Gold Mine premises.
"We already have 16 groups consisting of rice farmers and who reside in a few meters from GGM area. The experiment gave us a motive to continue mobilizing more people on the best way to get-rid of charcoal use and we are so far progressing well,” he said.
According to him, when the beneficiaries of the machines in Geita will be ready to produce alternative energies, the latter would not be sold at an expensive rate because the aim was to show charcoal users that sustainable energy alternatives were available within their day to day activities like farming.
“I can assure you,this alternative energy will be sold at a price that everyone can afford. This will be the people of Geita villages’ income generating activity that in the other hand will help our aim of mitigating the rampant wood and charcoal businesses and thus protect our forests,” he said.
Mr Shayo also says that lack of enough alternative sources of energy and the continuous use of charcoal in people including policy maker’s households was one of the factors contributing to environmental degradation.
“For instance, we realized that farmers in the village have got a lot of raw materials for alternative energy production, but they were not a ware. We are also training them on how to maintain the natural forests for sustainability and we now call upon policy makers to adhere to this initiative in order to accelerate positive outcome countrywide,” said Shayo.
On Charcoal policy and awareness
Mr Shayo also called upon the government to come up with policies which will regulate the use of charcoal as a move to also discourage charcoal producers and rather, get them to adapt to the use of alternative and sustainable energies.
He also said that there was still little awareness of the dangers associated with charcoal usage among most producers in the villages.
“The government has an obligation to formulate policies to regulate the use of this dangerous energy. We as stakeholders are also obliged to keep making people aware of the dangers of using tree-based energies especially in residencies around forests in rural areas for the sake of our future generation,” he said.
On Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF)
Regarding the MTLF debate, Mr Shayo praised MCL's initiative and said it had come at the right time as just a start of the company’s role in the protection of the environment and he believed that the discussion would come up with significant achievements.
"It's a good start because it brings various stakeholders from all the ranks that contributes to shaping the environment’s policies. This debate should make stakeholders go down to the community levels where there are sources of charcoal-businesses,” he insisted.
In addition, Shayo says conservation and respect for the environment should be among the priority areas to all companies and individuals.
He says in GGM’s mining operations, they have set up environmental management systems that ensures environmental issues are considered in their daily activities.
Among the initiatives they are doing is re-planting natural trees in collaboration with Tanzania’s Forest Services Agency (TFS), as part of supporting the government in its efforts to plant more trees.
"It's rare to find in a mining area a natural forest but we have succeeded in making restoration of natural trees after performing our mining activities. We really appreciate MCL for giving out the best platform for people to share ideas for our environment," says Shayo.
The executive director of Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) Mr Charles Meshack cautioned during the MTLF that farming activities were the main destroyer of forests.
“We need to collaborate in bid to get the best way of addressing this issue by identifying all of its root causes. We should also watch how irresponsible farming activities have had a hand in our environmental degradation and this can only be achieved if we had proper regulatory policies,” he said.
The Tanzania Petrol Development Corporation is in tender process to invite qualified companies to distribute natural gas for domestic uses in Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Mtwara.Photo Gallery | Session Video | Publication
The Tanzania Petrol Development Corporation is in tender process to invite qualified companies to distribute natural gas for domestic uses in Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Mtwara.
The plan has come while Tanzania is losing nearly 400,000 hectares of trees annually basically for energy uses especially charcoal making.
According to The National Forest Resources Monitoring and Assessment (Naforma) report of the year 2015, Tanzania has 48.2 million hectares of forests equivalent to 54.6 of the total land.
The report shows that Tanzania is rich in forest resources with the volume of 3.3 billion meter cubed of natural trees, which are 97 percent out of planted trees.
However, Tanzania depend forest for energy sources for 90 per cent while electricity contributes two per cent and petrol contributes eight per cent.
Due to the fastest deforestation, the TPDC has started the project to utilize natural gas from different sources for domestic uses.
Speaking with The Citizen recently, the Acting director for downstream department in TPDC, Emmanuel Gilbert says apart from the ongoing project of distributing gas to the households in Dar es Salaam, the main plan is to involve private sector through Public and Private Partnership.
“The ongoing project is at Mikocheni, Mlalakua and around the University of Dar es Salaam in which we implement depending the budget we have. But we are still in the tender process with private companies through the Public and Private Partnership,” he says.
“It’s a USD270 million about Sh700 estimated budget project which will be implemented in three regions, namely Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Mtwara for the first phase but the target is to cover the whole country.
He says the project is expected to commence in May 2020 when qualified companies will already be identified and start to work.
“There will be three companies in Dar es Salaam in which in Ilala municipality a single company, Kinondoni and Ubungo will be served with a single company and Temeke and Kigambo a single company,” says Gilbert.
Adding, “We as a government have some specification to the companies which we will be making follow up. The contract time will be 20 to 25 years.”
Tanzania has 55.08 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven but largely undeveloped natural gas reserves, in which 47.08 trillion cubic feet is from offshore and the rest 8 trillion cubic feet are from on shore.
The main customer so far is the Tanzania electric supply company which takes over 50 per cent.
There are also 42 companies which have been connect with the gas pipe
Also the gas is distributed to households and so far there 74 houses which have been connected in Dar es Salaam.
There is also a gas filling station at Ubungo Dar es Salaam in which some cars have changed the fuel system from petrol to gas.
The Citizen has visited some households which have been connected with natural gas to get their experience.
Angela Joseph a resident of Mikocheni in Dar es Salaam says since she started to use natural gas she has reduced energy cost per month.
“Before using gas I was buying two bags of charcoal for month worthy Sh120,000 to Sh160,000 but for now I use only Sh50,000 to recharge gas for two months which I use to cook all items,” she says.
Raymond Kavishe who is a chef at a bar in Mikocheni says since they have connected to the natural gas system, they have reduced cost of buying charcoal.
“ I have reduced the costs of charcoal two times after being connected with natural gas. Previously I was using Sh15,000 only for charcoal,” says Kavishe.
Research officer of TPDC Eva Swillah says the gas is safe for uses compared to the petroleum gas and it is cheaper compared to other sources of energy.
“This is natural gas mined as gaseous state different to petroleum gas which is in liquid form. It is safe because it is less dense than air, so if it link from the pipe it goes up on the air, while petroleum gas will remain down after linkage so it is easier to catch naked fire,” she says.
She adds that for the pilot project they are doing, they cover the costs of installation and the customer pay for the uses.
Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam is one of the fastest growing cities in the country with a huge flow of money due to various business and entrepreneurship undertaken, but also the leading city in charcoal usage.
The presence of such features in the country’s economic city has led to the growth of trade and the use of charcoal from various regions which is being being transported for marketing.
As a result, every Tanzanian wishes to bring or trade in the city with the hope that he will find reliable customer service providers.
Opportunity to have a good market has led to at least five million people who are flocking in the city for marketing. This increase in the population is in line with the increase in energy use in homes mainly charcoal.
Despite technological growth, many residents in the city continue to use charcoal as a source of energy daily due to it being cheaper as compared to other source of energies such as gas.
The most people use charcoal to cook their daily foods such as beans, maize and meat.
Dar es Salaam City is said to lead by 70 per cent in the use of charcoal in Tanzania followed by other major cities as Mwanza, Mbeya, Arusha and Tanga respectively. Large use of urban charcoal increases the speed of cutting of trees for satisfying needs.
The minister of State, in the Vice-President's Office (Coalition and Environment), January Makamba said the presence of a good road linking Dar es Salaam and other regions is one of the factors that enable the transport system for charcoal to be cheaper.
"Dar es Salaam is located in the center of the coal-producing regions that give investors the potential to bring charcoal without entering expensive shipping costs and confident of the purchase," he said.
He said the city was the main source of the energy and originally the charcoal was found in neighboring areas of Bagamoyo and Kibiti because of the presence of transport relief but now they are not satisfying the city's demand.
"As time goes, these sites are rarely burning charcoal, that's why now charcoal comes from different sources including Morogoro, Coast and Tabora. It comes from these regions because its availability is easy, "says Makamba.
However, Makamba says there is still a challenge to prevent the use of charcoal from some Tanzanians by changing their behaviour, make them accept and adapt how to avoid the use of charcoal energy in catering activities.
"There is still a notion that gas is not safe, that's why some people stay away from it fearing of being at risk. But the fact is that gas has few dangerous incidences; the other is costly charcoal and they prefer charcoal based three main reasons.
The main reason is the price of this charcoal that is thought to be cheaper. Secondly, you the energy is easily accessible, on the streets from outside you meet it and are available on standard sales conditions that you can afford and you can buy from Sh500 and no other energy is sold at a lower price to make charcoal to be expensive,"says Makamba.
Makamba, who is also a Member of Parliament for Bumbuli, says that one of the ways to mitigate charcoal usage in marketplace is by coming up with cheaper prices on alternative energy, but the issue mostly requires the government and the private sector to intervene and use the opportunity to bring safer energies with lower prices in the market.
Use of alternative energy
According to Makamba, awareness has become a major milestone as number of people including emerging entrepreneurs have been designing alternative ways to create energy to support the government’s efforts to reduce the use of tree-based charcoal.
"Now people are becoming increasingly aware of the environmentally friendly energy. Entrepreneurship in this industry has increased significantly while the market of alternative energy-markets is expanding and its price is relatively different than other energies,” he said.
"We have seen a good indication and we believe that soon fruits will be bared. Some of these entrepreneurs have begun getting involved in transmitting this alternative energy to the public and private institutions including refugee and military camps," he added.
Regarding government institutions that are still using charcoal, Makamba says the government intends to make a federal law by applying a principle that will prohibit any institution with more than 1,000 people from a certain date should not use wood and charcoal.
"This issue is still in the working process because we have to know the number of these institutions and their capacity," says Makamba.
However, Makamba says the move to prohibit cutting of trees for charcoal production required co-operation and it isn't meant for only one ministry and that the action will improve efforts to prevent the use of tree-based charcoal.
Also Makamba has asked Tanzanians who are nearby to forest areas to take action to those people who cut trees for charcoal rather than being watchers when the damage is being done.
Manufacturers of alternative energy.
The director of Kuja and Kushoka company, engaging in the development of alternative energy Leonard Kushoka, says that although the technology has not spread rapidly, he has been committed to distributing the energy to remote camps and prisons.
What TFS say
The director of Tanzania Forestry Services Agency (TFS), Arjanson Mloge says that over 90 per cent of Tanzanians depend on charcoal and wood as the main source of home-based energy.
"This great demand contributes to the presence of a large market for charcoal in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, Mbeya, Dodoma and other cities and regions," says Mloge.
According to Mloge, the charcoal entering Dar es Salaam is 500,000 bags per month from a survey conducted by the TFS team between December 2016 and January 2017.
"This amount does not include illegally inserted charcoal and approximately, 200 bodabodas enter the city every day. The main producers of charcoal which is being transferred to Dar es Salaam, are Coast, Tanga, Morogoro, Njombe (planted trees), Lindi and Mtwara.
What other people say
Tabata Segerea's resident, Jenista John says she uses a gas and electricity stove but the use of charcoal for her family is inevitable due to the current environment.
"In my home people do not eat food without beans, it is a daily routine day and night, so I have to buy charcoal for cooking such foods that can not be drained through gas so we have to use charcoal," she said.
One of the charcoal traders in the city, Martin Joseph says he sells the energy for Sh1000, now the price of charcoal has decreased where a bag of 100kgs is sold between Sh35,000 and Sh40000 and above.
"The decline in prices is due to the current state of the rainy season, and its sanitation becomes cheaper in the field. In the rain season a bag is sold up to Sh60000," he said.
Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) will be organizing its third edition of the Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF III) .The forum seeks to encourage dialogue, shape opinions and policy directions, aPhoto Gallery | Session Video | Publication
Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) will be organizing its third edition of the Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF III) .The forum seeks to encourage dialogue, shape opinions and policy directions, and propose practical solutions to issues critical to the development and growth of Tanzania. The forum is designed to be a “Highly Interactive Town Hall” format with views from the diverse panel of experts. This will be aired live on ITV and Radio One Stations.
This edition is planned for 7th February 2019 at the Kissenga Auditorium, LAPF Building, Dar es Salaam. The theme of the upcoming forum is “The Charcoal question in our Economy and Environment”. This discussion comes at a time when Tanzania has identified how the Environment is affected by the rise in Charcoal usage as a key priority agenda with a target of adopting Cleaner sources of renewable energy. It is in this light that the forum shall seek to address the following critical areas:
· The Charcoal Economy
· Alternative Energy Sources
· Regulatory Framework
Dar es Salaam. Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) managing director Francis Nanai has called upon environment stakeholders in Tanzania to come up with recommendations, which will discouragePhoto Gallery | Session Video | Publication
Dar es Salaam. Mwananchi Communications Limited
(MCL) managing director Francis Nanai has called upon environment
stakeholders in Tanzania to come up with recommendations, which will
discourage use of charcoal as the main source of energy.
Speaking during the third Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum in the city on Thursday, February 7, the MCL boss, whose company is the organiser of the event, called for massive investments in alternative energy sources in order to mitigate the effects of the changing climate.
“It is my expectation that today’s forum will enable the stakeholders to come up with solutions to address the harmful human activities that impose negative impact to the environment,” Mr Nanai observed.
themed: “The Charcoal Question in our Economy and the Environment” was
graced by the Minister for State in the Vice President's Office (Union
Affairs and Environment), Mr January Makamba.
The colourful event was attended by various serving and retired government officials, representatives from private sector, development partners and other environment stakeholders.
Among others, the participants had opportunity to discuss various issues related to environment conservation.
Dar es Salaam. Mwananchi Communication Ltd (MCL) executive editor Bakari Machumu said on Thursday, February 7, that if alternative source of domestic fuel were to be made available at affordablePhoto Gallery | Session Video | Publication
Dar es Salaam. Mwananchi Communication Ltd (MCL)
executive editor Bakari Machumu said on Thursday, February 7, that if
alternative source of domestic fuel were to be made available at
affordable cost, then reliance on charcoal would drop drastically.
Mr Machumu made the observation during the 3rd Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum that focused on exploring solutions on the effects of charcoal use on both the economy and environment.
He said the use of charcoal, especially in Dar es Salaam, was huge due to economic reality and the fact that it was readily available for every household budget.
“We need to know what we want to achieve and what we need
to do so that we would not continue destroying the environment, but
protect it for sustainable development,” he noted.
that: “We are part of those looking for solutions to these challenges
facing us in order to enable the government to develop better policies
Dar es Salaam. Minister of state in the president’s office (Union and Environment) January Makamba has revealed that about 60 people lose their lives everyday due to the effect of climaPhoto Gallery | Session Video | Publication
Dar es Salaam. Minister of state in the president’s office (Union and Environment) January Makamba has revealed that about 60 people lose their lives everyday due to the effect of climate change in the country.
Mr Makamba was speaking during the Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF) held in Dar es Salaam on Thursday, Februarys 7.
The third MTLF brought together stakeholders to discuss various ways to end the use of charcoal in order to address effect of climate change in the country.
Dar es Salaam. A local entrepreneur wants the government to impose more tax on charcoal business in an effort to reduce the cutting down of tree.Photo Gallery | Session Video | Publication
Dar es Salaam. A local entrepreneur wants the
government to impose more tax on charcoal business in an effort to
reduce the cutting down of tree.
Mr Benjamini Lane, whose Tractors Company Ltd produces charcoal by using sawdust says current tax rates which are set by Tanzania Forest Agency (TFS) were too low to discourage the cutting down of trees.
The call comes at a time when available data show that at least 61 per cent of Tanzania’s land mass is on the brink of becoming a desert, threatening future livelihoods of millions of the country’s livestock keepers and farmers.
The situation, largely blamed on human activities associated with energy source needs and irresponsible farming and livestock keeping, has seen Tanzania losing an average of one million acres of forests per year.
The situation is reported to be getting worse in Singida, Dodoma, Shinyanga, Manyara, Simiyu, Geita and Arusha regions.
Speaking on Wednesday, February 7 at the 3rd
Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum – which explored solutions to
effects of charcoal use on the environment and economy – Mr Lane said if
the government imposes more taxes the product would be sold at higher
prices thus discouraging buyers.
He said his company is producing charcoal by using sawdust products which is also part of conserving the environment.
Dar es Salaam. Minister for State in the Vice President's Office (Union Affairs and Environment) January Makamba on Thursday, February 7, 2019 graced the 3rd Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum oPhoto Gallery | Session Video | Publication
Dar es Salaam. Minister for State
in the Vice President's Office (Union Affairs and Environment) January
Makamba on Thursday, February 7, 2019 graced the 3rd Mwananchi Thought
Leadership Forum organised by Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL).
Addressing the participants during the Forum, Mr Makamba commended the organizers saying he was optimistic that the move would complement government’s efforts to mitigate human activities that constitute hazards to the environment.
“It is not a secret that charcoal production is among the potential sources of revenues for local governments,” Mr Makamba revealed.
He added: “Charcoal production also employs a substantial number of the population.”
In Tanzania, at least 22, 000 people die per year, an average of 60 people per day due to respiratory diseases caused by the consumption of charcoal, according to the minister.
Referring to the rapid growth of charcoal consumption in Tanzania, Mr Makamba pointed out that the product was sold at relatively affordable price (cheaper compared to other sources of energy like gas), saying due to this reason, majority of the households opt to continue using the product.
He quickly noted, however, that true cost of charcoal, from production to consumption, was not cheap as it appeared on the outset.
Moreover, Mr Makamba further expressed optimism saying the Forum was essential on the grounds that it offered stakeholders an opportunity to share experiences and knowledge.
The forum under a theme of “The Charcoal Question in our Economy and Environment” was held at Kisenga Hall, Millennium Towers in the city.
In attendance, the colourful event brought together various serving and retired government officials, representatives from the private sector and environment stakeholders.
The Forum also involved a panel session where the panelists highlighted various issues related to environmental conservation and devastation.
Among others, the panelists had highlighted strategic measures to address the challenges facing the sector including afforestation.
The panelists also urged the stakeholders to come up with technological innovations designed to promote the use of other sources of energy that are friendly to the environment like gas.
The Forum was sponsored by (in no particular order) NMB Bank, Songas, UN Environment, Oryx Energies, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Mkaa Endelevu, The Kilimanjaro Project, Tanzania Forest Services Agency, ITV and Radio One, Tanzania Forest Conservation Group and several others.
Rashidy Kazeuka says a forest cleared for charcoal is a silent and desolate place. No birds or other wildlife, just a barren, dried out landscape.
It is something Mr Kazeuka knows well. He is a charcoal maker at Kilosa District and in the past he says he never cared about wildlife and watersheds.
He just went to the forest and cut every tree he found, no matter the size.These days, Mr Kazeuka still produces charcoal in a traditional kiln — piling chunks of earth around a stick frame covering the wood.
But everything else about what he does is different. He is part of a new sustainable charcoal pilot project aimed at helping rural producers make-and-sell charcoal in a way that does not decimate Tanzania’s forests.
Deforestation is rampant here and the charcoal market creates a big demand. About 95 per cent of urban households in this rapidly urbanising country use it as their primary fuel.
A day’s drive from Kilosa, the charcoal markets of Dar es Salaam offer a vivid example of that growing demand. On a dusty side street, 24-year-old Goddi Mbisa runs a brisk trade.
It is a good business, Mr Mbisa says, come rain or shine he sells charcoal. He simply makes money all the time.
Hundreds of bags are stacked around him on ground turned black from the dust.
By some estimates, Dar es Salaam burns more than 35,000 of these bags every day, a number that is rising fast as the city’s population grows.
Mr Mbisa says on a good day, he sells 60 or 70 bags, making lots of money from each one, a tiny sliver of this $650 million a year industry here. Charcoal in Tanzania is bigger than coffee and tea combined and its vast supply chain rivals even beverage companies.
With one critical difference.
“More than 70 per cent of the trade is illegal,” says Tanzania Forest Services spokesman Charles Ng’atigwa.
It is completely unregulated and untaxed, and along with its impact on the country’s forests, a recent World Bank report estimated that the government is losing about $100 million a year in uncollected revenue.
But the government has been confounded in its efforts to shut it down. Millions depend on charcoal for cooking fuel and the trade also supports more than a million jobs.
“If you really cut down the production, all these people (would lose their) livelihoods,” Mr Ng’atigwa says.
“And that would be chaos.”Chaos was exactly what happened back in 2006 when the government tried to ban the charcoal trade. The effort backfired when prices spiked and bolstered the illegal trade rather than curbing it, and was abandoned after just two weeks, which brings us back to Kilosa, and the government’s new approach.
It is focused on village-owned forests, which account for nearly half of Tanzania’s remaining woodlands and have been a huge source of black market.
In Kilosa, about a square mile of forest is now reserved for charcoal production, roughly a tenth of the village’s total woodland preserve. The rest has been set aside for conservation and beekeeping. The charcoal unit has in turn been divided into 24 sections, one to be cut every year in a quarter-century rotation.
The most recently cut section has been completely cleared of all but a few valuable fruit trees. But a closer look shows that this isn’t just any clearcut. The stumps are all about two feet high, with tall green shoots sprouting from their tops.
Mr Peter Mtoro, who works with Tanzania Forest Conservation Group, a local NGO, says this simple change—not cutting all the way to the ground—allows the trees and their root systems to survive, and the forest to completely regenerate.
“So we believe that after 24 years, these trees will be ready for charcoal production,” Mr Mtoro says, starting the process all over.
But the real incentive for scaling up the sustainable charcoal project has less to do with its environmental impact than its economic one.Charcoal producer Kazeuka says before, only he profited from making charcoal, but now the entire community benefits.
Mr Kazeuka now pays a small licensing fee for every bag he produces, and those fees are quickly adding up — to well over a $100,000 in the eight villages participating so far. The money’s being used for things like forest conservation, clean water systems, new school buildings and, even, in Kazeuka’s village, universal health care.
Mr Kazeuka says harvesting charcoal sustainably also ensures that his two young kids will be able to work as charcoal producers when they grow up.
Conservationist Mtoro says those kinds of benefits have transformed local attitudes toward forest protection. “Why? Because the community knows they can benefit from that forest,” Mtoro says. “So protection of the forest becomes very high.”This is exactly what the Tanzanian government is banking on as it looks into scaling up the sustainable charcoal project. And it’s not the only effort here to tackle the charcoal problem. Among others, a startup company is turning farm waste and coconut husks into alternative briquettes.
But, away from the villages, it’s been hard to get a fire started under these sustainable charcoal efforts. The illegal stuff, Mr Mtoro says, is just cheaper to produce.
“Most of the people who are using charcoal, they are not interested in environmental conservation,” Mr Mtoro says. They’re interested in saving their money.
But they also want the best quality. And Mtoro says the new sustainable charcoal is also a better product.
So the real challenge, he says, lies in marketing, and getting the word out to the millions of users in Tanzania’s growing cities before it’s too late.
Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Petrol Development Corporation will float a tender to invite qualified companies to distribute natural gas for domestic uses in Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Mtwara.
The plan has come at a time when data show that Tanzania is losing nearly 400,000 hectares of trees annually basically for energy use especially charcoal making.
According to the National Forest Resources
Monitoring and Assessment (Naforma) report of the year 2015, Tanzania
has 48.2 million hectares of forests equivalent to 54.6 of the total
The report shows that Tanzania is rich in forest resources with the volume of 3.3 billion cubic meters of natural trees, which represent a 97 per cent compared to planted trees.
However, Tanzania depends on forest for energy sources by 90 per cent while electricity contributes two per cent and petrol contributes eight per cent.
Due to the ever increasing deforestation, the TPDC has initiated a project to utilize natural gas from different sources for domestic uses.
Speaking with The Citizen recently, the Acting director for downstream department at TPDC, Mr Emmanuel Gilbert, said apart from the ongoing project of distributing gas to the households in Dar es Salaam, the main plan is to involve the private sector through the Public and Private Partnership.
“The ongoing project is at
Mikocheni, Mlalakua and around the University of Dar es Salaam where we
implement the project depending on the burdget we have. However, we are
still in the tendering process with private companies through the Public and Private Partnership,” he says.
“It’s a $270 million (about Sh700 billion) estimated budget project, which will be implemented in three regions, which are Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Mtwara for the first phase, but the target is to cover the whole country.
He says the project is expected to commence in May 2020 when qualified companies will already be identified and start working.
“There will be three companies in Dar es Salaam, which will serve Ilala, Ubungo and Kinondoni Temeke and Kigambo” says Mr Gilbert.
Adding, “We already have some specification of the companies, which we want to hand the projects to them. The contract time will be 20 to 25 years.”
Tanzania has 55.08 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven but largely undeveloped natural gas reserves, in which 47.08 trillion cubic feet is from offshore and the rest 8 trillion cubic feet are from on shore.
The main customer so far is the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco), which takes over 50 per cent.
There are also 42 companies, which have been connected to the gas pipeline.
Also the gas is also being distributed to households and so far there 74 houses, which have been connected in Dar es Salaam.
There is also a gas filling station at Ubungo Dar es Salaam in which some cars have changed their fuel systems from petrol to gas.
The Citizen has visited some households, which have been connected to natural gas to hear their experiences.
Angela Joseph, a resident of Mikocheni in Dar es Salaam says since she started using natural gas, she has saved a substantial amount of money which would have been used to buy costly energy sources per month.
“Before I started using gas, I was buying two bags of charcoal every month, which cost me between Sh120,000 to Sh160,000 per month, but now I use only Sh50,000 to refill gas for two months, ”she said.
Kavishe, who is a chef at a bar at Mikocheni, says since they were
connected to the natural gas system, they have been saving lots of
“The money I used to buy charcoal has gone down twice after being connected to the gas system,” says Mr Kavishe said.
Research officer of TPDC Eva Swillah says the gas is safe for uses compared to the petroleum gas and it is cheaper compared to other sources of energy.
is natural gas mined in gaseous state. It is different from petroleum
gas, which is in liquid form. It is safe because it is less dense than
air, so if it leaks pipe it goes up into the air while petroleum gas will remain down after leakage, something which can easily lead massive explosions,” she says.
added that for the pilot project they carrying out, they cover the
costs of installation and the customers will pay depending on how they
Dar es Salaam. Dar es Salaam is one of Tanzania’s fastest-growing
cities, with money changing hands easily as various businesses are
But it also leads in charcoal consumption. Many
Dar residents use charcoal for cooking because it is inexpensive as
other sources of energy such as gas are costly.
According to sources, Dar es Salaam accounts for 70 per cent of all charcoal consumed in Tanzania, followed by Mwanza, Mbeya, Arusha and Tanga.
Large consumption of charcoal in urban areas means more trees are felled. The minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment), Mr January Makamba, said: “Dar es Salaam is close to charcoal-producing regions and traders capitalise on the situation to supply the city with charcoal cheaply.” According to him, charcoal used to come from Bagamoyo and Kibiti, but since so many trees have been felled, now it also comes from areas such as Morogoro and Tabora.
Preventing charcoal use
He said it was tough to prevent the use of charcoal as that would involve behavioural change first.
is still a notion that gas is not safe, that’s why some people avoid
it. They also believe charcoal is cheaper than gas and that it is easily
accessible. You find it on streets and that a container can cost as
little as Sh500.” He believes that to discourage charcoal use, prices of
alternative energy sources should fall drastically. However, he is glad
that a number of people have been designing alternative ways of using
cheap energy sources to support government efforts of reducing the use
of charcoal. “People are increasingly becoming aware of the
environment-friendly energy. Entrepreneurship in energy has increased
significantly while the market for alternative energy is expanding and
prices are relatively different from those of other energy sources,” he
said. “The indication is good. Some entrepreneurs supply alternative
energy sources to public and private institutions. They are doing so
even in refugee and military camps.”
He said plans were afoot to enact a law prohibiting the use of woodfuel in any public institution with more than 1,000 people.
“We are working on the matter. We have to know the number of institutions and their capacities,” he explained. However, Makamba thinks a ban on charcoal production requires cooperation of many stakeholders and not simply one ministry.
He urged people who live near forest areas to protect trees.
Leonard Kushoka, director of Kuja and Kushoka Company – involved in
developing alternative energy -- said although the technology had not
spread rapidly, he was committed to supply it to remote camps and
A director of Tanzania Forestry Services Agency
(TFS), Arjanson Mloge, said woodfuel accounted for 90 per cent of energy
consumption at Tanzanian homes. “Large markets for charcoal are Dar es
Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, Mbeya, Dodoma and other cities.”
According to Mloge, Dar es Salaam consumes 500,000 bags a month, according to a survey by a TFS team between December 2016 and January 2017.
“This amount does not include charcoal brought illegally. Two hundred bodabodas loaded with charcoal enter the city every day. The main producers of charcoal to Dar es Salaam are Coast, Tanga, Morogoro, Njombe, Lindi and Mtwara.
Tabata Segerea resident Jenista John uses a gas, electricity and charcoal.
Charcoal use ‘inevitable’
to her charcoal is inevitable due to the current environment. “I use
charcoal to cook beans, which my family normally consume. Trader Martin
Joseph sells charcoal at Sh1,000 in retail as the commodity prices have
fallen to Sh35,000 a 100-kilo bag from Sh40,000 kilos.
“During the rainy season a bag is sold at up to Sh60,000. The prices fall during the dry season,” he said.
say energy sources in developing countries remains a major issue as a
big percentage of the population continues to depend on firewood and
charcoal for their fuel needs.
Experts warn of the environm