| Application of biomass-energy technologies |
|III. Fuel-efficient cookstoves|
Production and marketing of the KCJ have been undertaken primarily by the private sector consisting of medium- and small-scale entrepreneurs and informal-sector artisans. The active participation of private entrepreneurs appears to be the single most important factor in the sustainability of the KCJ programme.
By making major efforts to involve local entrepreneurs, the KCJ project did not attempt to install a new production and marketing system. It basically used the same network that produces and markets the traditional jiko. This strategy was effectively an incremental approach that proved particularly cost-effective, since the existing producers and entrepreneurs shouldered the cost of placing the KCJ onto the market.
Active participation of private entrepreneurs was further stimulated by the decision of KREDP not to provide subsidies. The initial result of this step was highly-priced KCJs. The first KCJs were outrageously expensive but competition soon lowered prices from a peak of $US 15.00 to a current price of $US3.00 per stove. The initial high prices ensured high profits which in turn attracted more producers. The ensuing competition soon brought down the prices to more realistic and affordable levels. One local entrepreneur, Richard Kimani of Jerri International, invested his own capital in the production of ceramic liners for the KCJ, then an unknown product. Once he took this important decision, he worked very hard to recover his investment and unwittingly ensured the survival of the KCJ programme. This experience was repeated in different variations by numerous private-sector participants and informal sector entrepreneurs and gave birth to a highly competitive and dynamic stove industry in the country.
Recent evidence, however, seems to indicate that while the role of the private sector is important, it requires additional institutional support to assist in continued R & D and in assisting quality control.