A US company Good Charcoal has entered into an agreement with the Namibian company, Africa Burns Charcoal, to import a total of 165 000 tons of Namibian charcoal valued at approximately N$950 million by September 2022.
With Namibian beer and beef already being exported to the United States, the Americans can soon indulge in a real Namibian braai, or barbeque as they call it because local charcoal is also on its way. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) facilitated the agreement between the two companies.
Last week Friday at the launch of the first export of charcoal from Namibia directly to the US market, US Ambassador to Namibia Lisa Johnson said the exportation signals the commencement of a trade opportunity that could see Namibia export several thousand tons of premium grade charcoal to the US tariff-free each month.
The first export consignment of 350 tons of charcoal to the US was valued at over N$2 million. Johnson stated that the Namibian charcoal sector is a priority sector for export growth given the high rates of employment, the positive impact it has on the environment as well as the high growth potential.
“The US government will continue to support the Namibian private sector to prepare exporters to meet complex market entry requirements, including the need for certification, market-entry compliance, understanding buyer requirements, and linking Namibian exporters to US buyers,” she said.
Deputy Minister of Industrialisation and Trade Verna Sinimbo, at the occasion, said this export and subsequent exports will lead to socio-economic improvement of communities where it is needed most, especially as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect the outlook for most global economies of which Namibia is no exception.
Sinimbo noted that the ministry launched the construction of a factory to produce a variety of nutritional animal feed and biochar from Namibia’s vast invader bush asset. The factory is located a few kilometres north of Otjiwarongo and is set to open in 2022. This, she said, shows the ministry’s efforts in promoting Namibia’s charcoal industry.
“The government regards charcoal as a major opportunity for both environmental sustainability and employment creation, especially in rural settings. Our ‘black gold’, charcoal is frontloaded by the ministry to ensure that Namibia accrues maximum benefit out of it,” she said.
Sinimbo added that the ministry started in October 2020 to train SMEs in the charcoal sector’s value chains. So far, around 30 SMEs have received training in various aspects of charcoal production, chainsaw handling, and basic entrepreneurship. The aim is to at least train 100 SMEs, particularly the youth and women.