WINDHOEK - Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Tjekero Tweya, is advising the charcoal industry to reform and add more value locally.
Too much charcoal is exported in bulk to South Africa, where it is processed and packed before it is exported to the European market, Tweya observed in the presence of two officials of “DHG”, the biggest European importers of Namibian charcoal, when visiting the Namibian Charcoal Association (NCA) in Otjiwarongo. He informed that he personally visited three of the biggest buyers in South Africa and convinced them to move their processing plants to Namibia. They will erect charcoal processing plants in the regions of Omaheke, Otjozondjupa and Erongo. From there, the processed charcoal will be transported with TransNamib via railway to Walvis Bay and then shipped to export markets.
The government sees charcoal production and exports as one of the manufacturing industries in Namibia with the biggest potential to bring about economic growth and employment creation. Tweya also advises the industry to support local SMEs where possible when supplying packing material and not to import products which can be manufactured locally. Namibia’s charcoal industry is to obtain its own and very unique charcoal standards before the end of this year.
One of the main aims of the NCA is to promote the production of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified charcoal among its members and the localisation of these standards is key to meet the requirements for a more socially, economically and ecologically sound product. The standards are aligned with the (FSC) and the establishment of national standards serve to tailor the FSC standards to Namibia’s circumstances. Meeting FSC standards is a requirement for exporting to European markets. This is important for Namibia because of the nine export markets for its charcoal, these are largely based in Europe (including the UK, Germany, France, Portugal and Greece).
Government has identified charcoal production as one of the important export industries through which economic growth and employment creation can be brought about in Namibia. Currently, Namibia is the 5th largest charcoal producer in the world. Even though they are grateful that 13 Namibian charcoal processors add value in Namibia by processing and packing locally, the minister is of the opinion that too much charcoal is exported to SA in unprocessed form. The global demand for Namibian charcoal exceeds the offer and thus there is a big growing potential.
Tweya also emphasises de-bushing in general for the repair of rangeland so that growth can take place in the livestock and game sectors. Charcoal production is an important activity for managing bush encroachment in Namibia. With an estimated 160,000 tonnes of export volume in 2016, the country is currently ranked as the fifth largest exporter of wood charcoal in the world which also makes it the largest exporter of charcoal in the Southern African region. This steady increase in demand and supply for Namibia’s charcoal in various markets has led to the charcoal industry being identified for strategic development through the National Development Plan (NDP5) and especially as one of the 10 industries in the ministry’s strategy to accelerate the country’s economic advancement. Considering different and connected factors such as current market demand and the industry’s ability to respond to such demand, it is estimated that Namibian charcoal exports could increase to 200,000 tonnes by 2020.