In Summary

The general idea is to keep up with demand as use of tree-based charcoal dwindles on the back of legislation enforcement against wanton tree felling for charcoal

Dar es Salaam. Mkaa Endelevu Company’s managing director Benjamin Lane is quoted as saying it is time that Tanzanians abandoned the use of tree-based charcoal to save the environment.

The company engages in producing alternative energy, and its name, ‘Mkaa Endelevu,’ is roughly ki-Swahili for ‘sustainable charcoal.’

Mr Lane gave the statement during an exclusive interview with The Citizen conducted in Dar es Salaam yesterday. This is part of the forum focusing on ‘The Charcoal Question in our Economy and the Environment’ – and which will be held today at the Kissenga Auditorium located in the LAPF Building, the Millennium Tower, in Kijitonyama.

The forum is organised by Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL), and the discussions will be aired live on ITV and Radio One, as well as be broadcast by various digital networks including MCL-Digital. In the interview, Mr Lane said there was still the impression among Tanzanians that alternative energy is not appropriate for general use.

Of course, this is not correct – if only because there indeed are more efficient alternative energy sources nowadays whose costs are cheaper, and which are readily available for every day uses.

“‘Sustainable charcoal’ or alternatives can be coated like other energy sources, and I advise Tanzanians to use it to save the environment from deforestation,” Mr Lane insisted.

According to the managing director, his company’s ‘Mkaa Endelevu’ is currently sold at between Sh27,000 and Sh30,000 for a 25kg bag, including value-added tax (VAT).

Recently, The Citizen spoke to traders in the tree-based ‘traditional’ charcoal traders in Dar es Salaam who said the commodity is sold at anything from Sh35,000 to Sh45,000 a bag – depending on the size of the bag. But, the price goes up to Sh60,000 a bag during the rainy season.

The Lane company currently produces for distribution some 200 tonnes of ‘Mkaa Endelevu’ per month, and plans are in hand to increase production to 5,000 tonnes a month. The general idea is to keep up with demand as use of tree-based charcoal dwindles on the back of legislation enforcement against wanton tree felling for charcoal and firewood.

“We have set aside Sh7 billion to produce some 1,000 tonnes of alternative charcoal. We already have the requisite raw materials, and are only waiting to see how charcoal usage will trend,” he said.

“We can’t just produce the alternative charcoal in greater quantities without first studying the market, because many people still believing in the traditional, tree-based charcoal. Currently, our main customers are refugee camps and some government institutions,” Mr Lane stated.

The minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment), Mr January Makamba, recently said that there are many entrepreneurs who come up with alternative energy projects in efforts to reduce use of traditional charcoal. However, there still is the big challenge of little knowledge among Tanzanian regarding alternative energy sources.