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Charcoal production booming, biomass expo hears

2019-08-12  Albertina Nakale

Charcoal production booming, biomass expo hears

WINDHOEK – The Namibia Charcoal Association (NCA) says charcoal production is booming in the country and the organisation is committed to growing the industry.

This was revealed by NCA manager Michael Degé during the Biomass Technology Expo (BTE) held at Otjiwa near Otjiwarongo on Friday, which turned out to be biggest biomass day Namibia has ever seen. 
A new good practices booklet was launched with guidelines covering harvesting, production, aftercare, health and safety measures, among others. 

Werner Berg from DHG, who exports Namibian charcoal to Germany, noted they are ready to upscale considerably.

He said they will increase production capacity from 18,000 to 45,000 tonnes – starting immediately.
In the communal areas, NCA will launch pilot projects together with the Directorate of Forestry and the De-bushing Advisory Service to foster charcoal production. 
The NCA also commended Forest Stewardship Council representative Manushka Moodley for the excellent work she has done in Namibia.

The expo was organised by the Namibia Biomass Industry Group.
Namibia Biomass Industry Group General Manager Colin Lindeque said they are very happy with the massive turnout at the expo. 

“Namibians are definitely realising the biomass opportunity. We were somewhat surprised by the huge international interest but that, of course, shows the great business potential Namibian biomass has to offer,” Lindeque said. 

Exhibitors travelled thousands of kilometres to Otjiwa – from as far as South Africa, Germany, Austria, Denmark, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. A number of machines were shown in Namibia for the first time, including a Bandit Arjes Impacter. 
Bandit Arjes Impacter is a slow speed shredder which breaks wood into pieces that can be used for charcoal making.

The company also brought an Agrifeed machine up from South Africa.  “Bush to feed is the way to go. A machine like this can substantially upscale operations. It has a throughput of 3 to 7 tonnes and produces roughage ready for feeding,” Barend van der Westhuizen from Africa Biomass explained.

Matthias von Senfft of Spanner Re2 travelled from Germany to Otjiwa to introduce a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system. Biomass can be used to produce electricity and heat or cooling. A boiler like this is ideal for medium-scale industries, large farms or lodges.  On a larger scale this would be a biomass industrial hub which locates a number of different production processes and companies at one location.

 While using woodchips as input, the production processes would be linked: Excess heat of one process is used as input for the next. The project is initiated by the GIZ Bush Control and Biomass Utilisation project and a Namibian delegation will travel to Germany in September to explore implementation options. 
The expo turned out to be the biggest biomass day Namibia has ever seen. More than 120 exhibitors showed their new technology, reached out to potential customers and exchanged ideas. 
With 1,400 visitors the BTE claims its place among Namibia’s most vibrant business shows. 
Standard Bank was the gold sponsor of the event.

Vetumbuavi Mungunda, chief executive officer of Standard Bank Namibia believes this sector will grow significantly over the next few years.  “Our engagement in the biomass sector started with our interest in improving rangeland and productivity of farming communities. As 60 to 70 per cent of Namibians depend on agriculture, biomass is an opportunity to reduce rural poverty. Diversification of the sector helps us to deal with drought and create additional income for farmers and for our country as a whole,” Mungunda noted.

2019-08-12  Albertina Nakale

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