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close this book BASIN - News No. 6 - July 1993 : Energy efficiency and environmental protection
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View the document The vertical shaft brick kiln (VSBK)
View the document Fuel-efficient brick kiln for Pakistan
View the document Coal fired, small-scale brickmaking in Zimbabwe
View the document Is commercial viability in small-scale brickmaking attainable or a far cry?

Coal fired, small-scale brickmaking in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe, like many other countries, faces a critical shortage of building materials. Demand has far outstripped supply, especially for "conventional" materials such as bumt clay bricks and cement. A combination of circumstances has excacerbated the situation. Outdated plant and equipment; tardy re-investment; transport constraints and over-centralised production.

The nation also faces the problems of high unemployment, particularly among school leavers, and a scarcity of foreign exchange for capital investment.

If we consider these problems together, then it is evident that one solution is to employ labour intensive methods for the production of building materials. These production methods do not call for large scale investment or machinery that requires foreign exchange.

The small-scale manufacture of bumt clay bricks can compete in an economically effective way with large capital intensive plants. Furthermore, the quality of the bricks produced is just as good.

By siting these small brickworks near to the centres of highest demand, that is in the areas around towns and cities, it is possible to reduce the burden on the transport infrastructure and use the pool of labour, which will certainly be locally available.

Choosing simple effective brick making technologies means that the production of hardware can more easily be transferred to the small manufacturing sector in Zimbabwe.This means a spin-off in local production of equipment, which will further benefit the economy, creating or sustaining jobs and income.

The use of coal for filing bricks is appropriate in Zimbabwe. Coal is produced in this country and is readily available at competitive prices around urban centres. In addition, the use of coal, rather than wood, avoids the problem of deforestation and subsequent soil degradation.

To give an example of the scale of technologies involved:

A brickworks employing 56 staff could be expected to make more than 2 million bricks per year (enough for over 126 quite large single storey houses). An approximate guide to profitability can be obtained: If we consider the manufacturing cost per brick to be around Z$ 0.24 and the selling price to be Z$ 0.29, then the annual profit will be over Z$ 122,000. The pay-back time on initial investment will be under 2 years. In fact the selling price of such bricks is likely to be well in excess of Z$ 0.40! (NB:These figures are based on costs for April 1992)


At the Kuwirirana Co-operative, Zimbabwe: Figure 5: Brick production with a hand mould Figure 6: Brick production with a manual press (Photos:H. Schreckenbach)

For further infonnation contact:

ITDG, Building Materials and Shelter Programme,

PO Box 1744, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Tel:+ 263 - 796420, Fax: + 263 - 796409.