| Boiling Point No. 30 - April 1993 |
A Multi-lnstitutional Programme
by M Wuddah-Martey, The Improved Coalpots Programme, Ministry of Energy, Private Mail Rag, Ministries Post Box, Accra, Ghana
This paper describes a programme to design, produce, disseminate and market an improved charcoal stove involving a vast array of different institutions at different stages. The programme now appears to be at the stage of moving from subsidized production and distribution by one company to large scale, non-subsidized, competitive production and marketing.
Although conventional fuels like LP gas and kerosene are found in urban areas, charcoal continues to dominate urban cooking. Firewood is preferred by the rural folk. Although charcoal and firewood are more expensive to use than conventional fuels, people prefer them because they are easily available at any time and in any quantity, and their stoves are relatively cheap or even free in some cases.
The high and increasing cost of charcoal to the users, and its contribution to the rate of deforestation, coupled with the inefficient way in which charcoal is utilized for cooking and heating, means that a lot of both money and energy is wasted by charcoal using households. To address the above issues, it will be necessary to increase the efficiency of the end-use device. It is in this light that the design, testing and dissemination of improved charcoal stoves become relevant.
In the implementation of the project, the then National Energy Board was the executor. However, other organizations were involved at various stages of its implementation. The table shows these organizations and the stages at which they have been involved since the project started three years ago.
The activities undertaken during the various stages are discussed in turn.
The project was identified by the World Bank mission in 1985. Its planning and implementation was done by the National Energy Board in collaboration with the Energy Sector Management Assistance Programme (ESMAP) of the World Bank.
Stove Testing: Performance & Affordability
Eight models were chosen for the laboratory tests. These were fabricated by local artisans under the supervision of a foreign consultant and project officers. They were then tested at the Mechanical Engineering laboratory at the University of Science and Technology in Kumari in May 1989.
The four most fuel saving models were then chosen for field tests. These were: two modifications of the UNICEF model (Haraka and Ahibenso), the Burundi improved stove (High model) and the improved coalpot.
A sample of 700 households was chosen at random in the capital city, Accra, to cover all the 3 income groups (low, medium, high). The selection focused specifically on households which exclusively used charcoal for cooking and heating. A total of 2,300 improved charcoal stoves consisting of the four models were field tested. Before the improved stoves were placed in households, data on the fuel consumption of the households' traditional coalpot was collected for a month. After which each model was given to a household for a month, during which expenditure and user preference surveys were carried out in the households on each of the four models.
The rate of retention (66%) for the Ahibenso stove was the main criteria in selecting it as the most preferred model for dissemination. However, due to the fact that the issue of affordability had not been addressed in the various surveys, it was decided that further monitoring aimed at addressing this be done using women's groups. The stoves were given to them on a hire-purchase basis and cooking demonstrations were held to show its advantages over the traditional coalpot.
The mass dissemination of the Ahibenso coalpot began in January 1992. This was after the surveys with women's groups had shown that people could afford the stove once they had been educated on its benefits. The dissemination programme focused on three main activities. These are:
1. Stove promotion and publicity
2. Stove production - training of local artisans and firms
3. Stove retailing - selection of retailers
Stove promotion and publicity
The campaign aimed at increasing the awareness of the general public on the advantages of using the Ahibenso coalpot evolved around extensive promotional and publicity programmes using all available media channels. This was designed by the promotion consultants 'Media Majique and Research Systems'. It involved: radio and television advertisements using education programmes; newspaper advertisements and announcements; the production and distribution of posters leaflets stickers; trotro (passenger carrying lorries) and taxi rank signs; and cooking demonstrations.
Until September 1991 the only producer of the Ahibenso stove was Alfa Manufacturing Co. Ltd. This put Alfa in a monopolistic position which was necessary to ensure that the dissemination would establish standard and satisfactory quality products. To eliminate Alfa's continued monopoly and hence diversify the production of the Ahibenso stove a consultant (Energy Associates) was contracted to design and implement a training programme for selected local artisans and firms throughout the country.
In all 43 local artisans and engineering firms all over the country were involved in the training programme. As of now 15 of these are actively engaged in producing the Ahibenso on a commercial basis without any financial assistance from the Ministry. They have to date produced and sold more than 2 500 Ahibenso stoves and are innovative enough to design other sizes and improve parts of the stove. It is also more profitable for them to produce the Ahibenso stove. However they lack the capital to produce on the large scale needed to satisfy the market. It is proposed that subsequent programmes should address this issue by the provision of a revolving fund for artisans.
The Ministry of Energy produced 9 000 stoves to be used as a buffer for the promotion of the Ahibenso stove. By January 1992 before mass dissemination began more than 3 500 of these had been sold. To sell the remaining 5 500 50 retail outlets were selected throughout the country.
Currently there are about 200 stoves remaining for distribution in Accra. Hitherto the retailers had depended solely on the Ministry's buffer stock for publicity and sales. But as this stock is now getting depleted the retailer and artisan linkage is being strengthened to ensure continuous supply of the Ahibenso stoves to the market.
The retailers profit margin on each stove is about 10%. Some retailers are even prepared to make part payment for the stoves. However, due to the well produced and good finish of the initial models sent to them, they are reluctant to sell models produced by local artisans and firms in their respective regions. They want models from Alfa Manufacturing. Because of the increased production costs and transportation which customers are reluctant to pay, the stoves will now have to be sold at an increased price.
We await news of large-scale dissemination.