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Thursday, April 5, 2018

Smoke and Ashes Making Charcoal in Africa


Smoke and Ashes Making Charcoal in Africa

Charcoal is big business in Africa.


Growth and economic development are bringing about changes in Africa from the use of firewood to the use of charcoal.


African countries are facing fuel supply problems and charcoal remains essential for many households since petroleum fuels and electricity are likely to remain too expensive. Charcoal is big business in Africa.


Cooking on a small charcoal grill in Juba South Sudan
Cooking on a small charcoal grill in Juba South Sudan


Making Charcoal in Africa
Making Charcoal in Africa

Forests cover nearly 23 percent of Africa’s land surface and five countries, DR Congo, Sudan, Angola, Zambia, and Mozambique account for half of this forested area. Forests and trees in Africa also account for 23 percent of global carbon stored in forests, and deforestation and forest degradation account for 30 percent of Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions which contribute to warming.

Forests and the wildlife they contain are vital for the African tourism industries in certain sub-Saharan African countries, but they also are globally important. 


Global warming means that many dry areas are going to get drier and wet areas are going to get wetter. This imbalance will make subsistence farming, upon which millions of Africans depend, even more perilous. It will also make the food the crisis much worse.


One cause of forest depletion is poverty-related, caused by clearing of wooded land for low productivity agriculture. In Africa, with 82 percent of households relying on wood and charcoal for cooking and heating, the demand is expected to increase by 20 percent over the next 20 years.


Fuelwood and charcoal account for 90 percent of timber removals in Africa, the reality is that in Africa below the Saharan desert only 7.5 percent of the rural population has access to electricity. Uganda, for example, has lost over 50 percent of its forest cover in the past 30 years.


African countries are facing fuel supply problems; there is also no question that it was easier and cheaper for a large percentage of the population to obtain fuels 20 years ago. The reality is charcoal is essential for many sub-Saharan households since petroleum fuels and electricity are likely to remain too expensive.


Charcoal plays an important role in both the energy sectors and the economies of most African countries. Charcoal is a very inefficient fuel to produce however, the use of charcoal cannot be stopped but, it can be reduced through implementing a variety of measures that promote the sustainable production of wood and efficient or alternative uses of charcoal. 


Did you know?

One cause of forest depletion is poverty-related
African countries are
facing fuel supply problems

Over 600,000 Africans are killed every year by air pollution caused by the use burning wood, and other organic matter for cooking.

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