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Economy

Charcoal prices double in 4 years on logging ban

A boda boda rider transports charcoal
A boda boda rider transports charcoal on the Kisii- Kilgoris road. PHOTO | BENSON MOMANYI  

Charcoal prices nearly doubled in four years on logging ban, hitting poor homes that are already grappling with high kerosene prices.

This comes amid a botched roll-out of an affordable cooking gas plan aimed at cutting reliance on kerosene, charcoal and firewood.

The charcoal price surge is linked to a ban on logging while that of kerosene is attributed to tax increase targeted at discouraging unscrupulous traders from fuel adulteration.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows low-income households are digging deeper into their pockets to afford the two sources of fuel they largely use for cooking and lighting.

Charcoal prices surged 84 per cent per four-kilogramme tin to an average of Sh145.2 in 2019 while a litre of kerosene jumped 13 per cent to Sh102.29.

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In June 2018, the State suspended implementation of its cooking gas subsidy plan after fraudulent contractors infiltrated the process.

Under the Mwananchi Gas Project, more than four million poor households were to receive 6kg cooking gas cylinders and burners at a discounted price of Sh2,000.

The KNBS statistics indicate that homes using liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking spend more or less the same amount of money to refill their cylinders as they did four years ago.

Refilling a 13-kilogramme cylinder, for instance, cost homes an average of Sh2,161.2, a marginal drop of one per cent, or Sh18.38, compared to Sh2,179.6 in 2016.

Kenya has been pushing households to embrace the use of LPG as a clean and safe fuel to avoid environmental pollution caused by charcoal and firewood.

Last November, the Cabinet brushed off pleas by lawmakers and extended the ban on logging in public forests in a resolution set to keep wood prices up.

The government on February 24 suspended logging in public forests, triggering a sharp rise in timber and charcoal prices.

A four-kilogramme tin of charcoal retailed at an average of Sh83 before the ban.

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