Charcoal is a dark grey residue consisting of Carbon and any remaining ash, produced by the slow process of heating wood and other substances in the absence of xygen,called Pyrolysis. It is an impure form of Carbon, which contains ash.
However, it is an excellent domestic fuel, and can be made from virtually any organic material like wood, coconut shells rice husks and bones. Usually hardwood species like Acacia, Mangroves, Oaks and Prosopis are preferred for Charcoal production.
Charcoal though an old source of energy, is as well still a modern source of energy for Cooking in both rural and urban centres. Charcoal in addition, is now an export commodity in Nigeria, with a large market in the EU, USA and Asia. The prices range from $170 -$300/ton depending on the packaging. Tropical Africa accounts for 70% of the exports and the market is all year round with a slight drop between July and September.
Indeed the charcoal industry is a multibillion dollar global industry. According to The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, over 40million metric tonnes of charcoal are consumed globally and approximately 2.4billion people rely on wood and charcoal for their daily fuel.
Nigeria currently ranks second to Brazil in the production of charcoal. The western countries particularly prefer Nigeria’s charcoal, as the country is rich in tropical hardwood, which burns slower and is hotter. Nigeria currently exports 380,000 metric tonnes of charcoal annually.
This report seeks to examine the financial viability or otherwise of packaging and exporting hardwood charcoal from Nigeria.