The main fuels for cooking and small industries in Uganda are wood and charcoal. Both are dirty to use and both contribute to deforestation. Meanwhile, in a country with a wide range of commercial crops, biomass residues such as rice husks, coffee pulp and maize stalks go to waste. This waste came to the attention of Kampala Jellitone Suppliers (KJS), a local business in the suburbs of Kampala. KJS was looking to replace liquified petroleum gas (LPG) in its coffee roasting business and recognised that the crop waste had potential as a fuel.
So a briquette-making business was born. The ‘briquettes’ are compressed blocks of shredded crop waste and sawdust. The waste is collected from local producers who would otherwise dispose of it. The market for briquettes includes schools, hospitals and food-processing businesses – indeed any institution or business that wants a cleaner and cost-effective fuel. There are benefits for the wider environment too. Estimates suggest savings of about 6 tonnes CO2 per tonne of briquettes, equivalent to about 9,300 tonnes/year CO2.
Business is thriving. In 2008 about 1,530 tonnes of briquettes were manufactured and sold, and by March 2009 over 1,300 institutional stoves and ovens had been installed for 36 organisations. Demand has been outstripping supply, and that demand has spread to domestic users who want briquette stoves for the home. KJS is working on a domestic model to keep them happy.