Strewn all over the coast, coconut husks are turning out to be a hot burning green fuel.
As more people move to cities in Africa from rural areas the demand for charcoal grows with them. Charcoal accounts for about 60% of Africa’s energy needs. Most of this charcoal is illegal causing long term effects and lost forest cover.
The coast region of Kenya is littered with waste coconut husks. “We discovered we could save trees by making our coconut briquettes from sustainable means” – Said Twahir, CEO & Co-founder, Kencoco. In order to make use of coconut husks lying idle on the farms and roadsides, KenCoco has trained women groups on the carbonization process: Any dry organic matter can be carbonized when put in a drum the matter is lit on fire. This process uses up oxygen. The drum is then covered to stop the inflow of oxygen. The matter continues burning without burning up completely due to low oxygen levels. This creates char or carbon matter.
At Kencoco they cannot enough charcoal to cope with the demand. It’s popularity is growing due to the environmental and health benefits. “Wood charcoal is usually very light so as it burns it emits harmful smoke. We compress the char into a harder, denser material which doesn’t emit any smoke and has less carbon monoxide emissions.” – Said Twahir. The charcoal production from trees is government controlled and attracts lot of costs. The coconut briquettes have an advantage as they are not subjected to this.
Hotels are the biggest client requiring more than KenCoco can produce. As well as having impacts in commercial spaces the briquettes are also having an impact in homes.