Fuel Efficient Charcoal Stoves – Made from Car Bonnets!
Second part of our “Ghana series” takes us to Ghana’s famous Kokompe Market, one of many scrap yards in Africa where ingenuity and sheer determination often gives rise to a plethora of indigenous African technological innovations.
It was hot and humid when we got there and it took what seemed like ages to walk through a sea of scrap metal, some in various stages of transformation into alternative forms of re-use.
MyWeku’s mission was to track down the production base of one of three green or fuel efficient charcoal stoves we had spotted for sale in a shop at Ghana’s Makola Market. The other two were a tyre rim grill and a tyre rim gas grill.
The Kokompe Market is a maze of stalls and workshops manned by artisans, small scale metal workers and ceramists. This is the natural haunt of scrap dealers, vehicle spare part dealers and recycling enthusiasts. With the help of two guides we managed to track down the one and only workshop that produces the Fuel Efficient Charcoal Stove we had spotted earlier. We wondered optimistically if this device could be the solution to some of Africa’s deforestation problems vis-à-vis over reliance on charcoal for energy.
The workshop we visited was manned by a Coordinator who kindly took some time off to talk to us about the stoves. His job was to train apprentices across Accra and elsewhere on manufacturing the Gyapa (Good Fire) Charcoal Stove and to distribute work amongst the workers across the Kokompe Market.
The Gyapa Stove (the stoves branded name) has several environmental sustainability benefits. A ceramic liner is fitted to it which helps to improve fuel efficiency by up to 50% over a traditional coal pot as 40% to 50% less coal is used. The stove retains heat better, is easy to use, lasts relatively longer (3 years) and apparently pays for itself in charcoal savings in as little as 2 months!
Another benefit of the stove is that the main materials used (metal) are recycled car body parts sourced locally. The clay based ceramic liners are sourced from Winneba, in the Central Region of Ghana.
We were told that just over 500 units (in three to four sizes) are sold in a month at Kokompe. Even though this stove still requires the use of charcoal (an average of 0.1 of a hectar is used to produce 1 ton of charcoal), it is a vast improvement on previous versions with significant savings in the damage caused to the environment.
Achieving a long term solution to deforestation and less reliance on charcoal across the world and in Africa in particular, requires a holistic solution. It is important to note that, the production of these stoves from recycled materials and the corresponding reduction in emissions during charcoal production and usage is certainly a move in the right direction.