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4. Analysis of Trends in the Production, Demand and Consumption of Wood Fuels in Namibia.

4.1. Firewood

Since subsistence economy will remain a major component in Namibia’s development and with a rural and national population annual growth rate of 3%, the rural demand for firewood and the northern towns will increase and largely remain directly related to the size and growth rate of the rural economy (Government of Namibia, 1996). However, the urban population is likely to respond to increasing prices of firewood as scarcity sets in. Hence trends in the more industrial towns in the central and south will tend to increase as a result of immigration of low income people into the urban areas; but will not be directly related to urban population growth in general since higher income people may resort to alternative forms of energy such as gas which is currently being promoted in Namibia. In this regard, the recent discovery of huge deposits of natural gas in Southern Namibia could have a direct impact.

With the above background Klaeboe and Omwami have estimated firewood demand to have increased by the year 2006 in Table 7 below. The estimated figures assumed an annual population growth rate of 3.3 %, which puts Namibia’s population in the year 2006 at 2.3 million from today’s population of 1.7 million people.

Table 7: Projected consumption of firewood in Namibia based on estimates made in 1996.






Volume in Tons

Value in N$

Volume in Tons

Value in N$


175 631

46 529 000

315 806

84 416 000


460 000

55 200 000

553 194

66 383 000


36 700

2 370 000

202 500

11 200 000


672 331

104 099 000

1 071 500

161 999 000


4.2. Charcoal

The main domestic consumers of charcoal are urban households and the hospitality industry. Their total consumption is however quite small with respect to the total annual production estimated as 12 000 tons. The domestic trend will be related to the rate of recruitment of household from low to middle and upper income groups who are the main users of charcoal.

The main export markets are Europe and South Africa. The European market is today strongly influenced by requirements for certification of the charcoal marketed there. Despite the good quality of Namibia’s charcoal and despite, the fact that it is manufactured from range degrading invader bush species, proof of social, environmental and ecological sustainability of the charcoal industry is required in European Markets. To date, the export market to Europe is probably down by some 30% because of certification. Namibian producers have made significant efforts to gain certification and some have.

With the above in mind, the charcoal industry is likely to vigorously promote the domestic use of their charcoal as well to stabilise the industry, in addition to increasing their exports to South Africa which is taking in some of the charcoal that would normally be destined for Europe.

Klaeboe and Omwami (1997) have predicted that by 2006, Namibia will be consuming 10 000 tons of charcoal internally: 3000 tons in the barbecue market and 7 000 in domestic cooking. In addition, the export market will increase to 30 000 tons by 2006. These figures seem to be widely exaggerated in the face of certification. The figures are unduly optimistic in the light of current experience.



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