The price of a kilogramme of charcoal has gone up by 59 percent in the past one year on the back of a sustained logging ban and an increased shift by lower income households to the fuel as a tough economy reduces the affordability of alternatives such as gas.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) data shows charcoal prices rose to Sh57.19 per kilogramme in June from Sh36 in June 2019.
The charcoal price surge is linked to limited supply following a ban on logging in public forests imposed in February last year and targeted at saving drying rivers in Kenya’s key water catchment areas.
“Following the ban, most dealers pulled out of the business leading to low supply in the market that has in turn pushed up prices for consumers,” said Cynthia Njoki, a charcoal dealer who imports from Uganda.
Besides Uganda, traders are going as far as Congo and South Sudan to source charcoal.
The government in February 2018 suspended logging in its forests, pushing the price of timber and other wood products higher as demand exceeded supply.
A four-kilogramme tin of charcoal that is mostly used to sell the commodity to low-income households is averaging Sh229, from Sh79 before the ban was imposed.
This means poor homes that cannot afford alternative sources such as cooking gas are still forced to pay dearly for their household energy needs, thus pushing many of them to the dirtier alternative of kerosene.