GreenTech Gambia Company Ltd

No Trees - No Life!

Monday 3 June 2013, by christieuptegrove

4 inspired

A. The main facts about the activities of the company.

Presentation Video

GreenTech is a private business response to the actual poverty situation, the up-winding energy crises and the environmental challenges in Gambia.

The company supplies affordable high quality solid biomass fuel for cooking and heating to a high diversity of industries and households, whilst supporting international and national strategies and targets for sustainable environmental and social development. GreenTech focuses on pro-poor and environmentally friendly products, production and marketing strategies with high potential of extension and diversification. Its products are fuel briquettes made of ground nutshells that are used for cooking or heating on household level and commercial uses. They also supply energy saving stoves that provide constant heat. These locally made stoves cost less than 10€. These two products’ aim is to save the customer’s time, money and natural resources. It is estimated that if Gambians switch from charcoal stoves to Green Tech stoves they could save around 250€/ year, which for them is half of their average per capita income.

Fuel Briquettes

Fuel briquettes consist of ground nutshells, which would have been dumped as waste otherwise. These biomass briquettes are made for cooking and heating on household level as well as for restaurants, commercial food processing or other industries using heat in their production process. GreenTech is using heavy-duty machines from C F Nielsen of Denmark who are world leaders in the manufacturing of briquetting presses.

Energy Saving Stoves

GreenTech supports the invention and marketing of locally made energy saving stoves, which make GreenTech briquettes even more efficient and suitable to handle, as they provide strong and constant heat, at the same time as using less fuel than the traditional cooking settings. Thus the new generation of stoves will save the customer’s time, money and natural resources. The energy saving stoves reproduce the traditional cooking stove and are simple to handle. Supplementary separation allows best energy efficiency at the same time as a smart air stream system improves the combustion process and minimizes visible smoke emission.

B. The Ethical challenges this company is addressing.

Climate change is already taking its toll, as floods and droughts occur more often than in the past and the desert is constantly approaching from the north, turning life into a challenge of survival in some areas. As the population is rapidly growing, forests are cut not only to create space for farming, settlements and infrastructure, but also to cover the daily needs, especially for timber and fuel wood. Because the majority of Gambians cook with firewood or charcoal, this deforestation process is increasing rapidly. This process is going to be a very expensive one if Deforestation does not stop, because Gambians need trees for almost all their daily activities.

Alternative fuels and fuel-efficient devices need to be used to reduce the harmful exploitation of forests in and around The Gambia for fuel wood. At the same time reforestation has to be accelerated.

C. What makes you believe this company is really ethical and why you trust it?

Determined to tackle environmental challenges and to improve livelihoods, GreenTech Company Ltd started in July 2011 to produce fuel briquettes from ground nutshells as an alternative fuel to firewood and charcoal, whilst designing and promoting locally made fuel efficient stoves. Switching from traditional cooking on charcoal to the innovative cooking unit of groundnut shell briquettes in fuel efficient stoves, can save 2/3 of the fuel cost, whilst the overall cooking process is faster and briquettes are a lot more comfortable to transport, store and handle than firewood or charcoal. Additionally, saving trees through alternative fuels mitigates climate change, soil erosion and other environmental challenges. At the same time, converting ground nutshells in fuel briquettes is a form of waste management.

The investment of 350 GMD (less than 10 Euro) for a locally made stove seems to be a barrier for many households to try the innovative cooking unit. Experience shows that the start barrier is actually often not a matter of the cost for the stove itself, but understanding of financial management and planning, respectively spending priorities and mandates within the households. Once a trained user is using the innovative cooking unit and understands the economic and environmental advantages, they usually keep it, providing the family with savings of time and finances that could then rather be used for health and education matters.

Then, Gambia decided to give fuel briquettes donations to other communities to help to kick-start the use of briquettes and fuel efficient stoves, especially for the less privileged population. Stove, briquettes and tree together will for sure catch the attention from neighbors and relatives and the message will be passed on that every individual can contribute to sustainable development. GreenTech’s service for donations and beneficiaries is part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility efforts, therefore no extra charges or administration fees will arise besides the true cost for the stove, the briquettes, the seedling and a protection for the seedling.

Converting ground nutshells into fuel briquettes is a form of waste management, because Groundnuts are the main crop in The Gambia and the shells are abundant, whilst dumping space is limited. The main benefits for Green Tech’s activity are; saving trees through alternative fuels, mitigates climate change, soil erosion among other environmental challenges.

We trust in Gambia Tech because it is trying to change the world. They are developing an initiative to stop desertification not only in Gambia, but also in other areas of Africa. It seems like a simple solution; the fact of replacing one of the most used raw materials for Gambian people, firewood, for another fuel made of the shell of dried fruits and nuts and with more efficient stoves to save energy.

The idea, the project, could be the solution for one of the most controversial topics nowadays; Climate Change. This business gives us a new perspective about how to find new solutions to current problems. How to be more respectful with the planet at the time we save costs for an entire community, in this case, the Gambian population. Furthermore, it shows us how to recycle something that, otherwise, would have no use. These kinds of alternatives are what our society needs. At the present rhythm of production and consumption, the planet would not be longer able to continue with the incipient worldwide growth. For us, it has been a pleasure to discover Green Tech, which has given us another perspective to see the world.

D.The possible challenges facing the company in the future and how you think this company may improve.

To start with, it should be noted that Gambia is still a developing country with a big percentage of its economy relying in agriculture as it accounts for 30% of its GDP. Within agriculture, peanut production accounts for 6.9% of GDP, whose waste serves as GreenTech’s raw material. This implies that the company will not have many problems in the future in order to secure the provision of its primary resources. The industrial sector, however, only accounts for 8% of the GDP, so this is a burden on how the company can expand towards this market, as the possibilities are quite limited.

The “Doing Business” report from the World Bank, which analyses 185 countries and ranks them by how easily they allowed business to operate, ranked Gambia in position number 143, down from 147 in 2012. However, Gambia is close to the average position in the Sub-Saharan region. This means that is not such a bad place to do business in comparison to neighbor countries.

One potential challenge that GreenTech might encounter is the low purchasing power of the Gambian population. A third of it lives below the International poverty line of US $1.25 dollars a day and thus they might have problems purchasing even the most basic products. GreenTech, however, could try to make this an advantage for the company by offering the stoves for free under the condition that the energy used would be coming from the biomass produced in their company. In the same way, GreenTech could price its products in a way that ensures continued demand at a lower price.

On the bright side, macroeconomic data is quite positive for the country. From 2006 to 2012, the Gambian economy grew annually at a pace of 5–6% of GDP. This means that energy consumption will increase and given the lack of electrical infrastructure, the use of biomass could be a viable alternative both for domestic and industrial use. The challenge for GreenTech would be to set up a reliable distribution network to be able to supply both the stoves and the biomass fuel.

The currently produced fuel briquettes consist purely of ground-nutshells, which would have been dumped as waste otherwise. These biomass briquettes are made for cooking and heating on household level as well as for restaurants, commercial food processing or other industries using heat in their production process. Given that the service sector is growing and tourism is increasing, the company might try to look for opportunities in this sector. Their purchasing power is also quite higher so the company could try to offer products at a premium price.

Bibliography

Abdoulie Nyockeh .2011. The Point. Gambia news for freedom and democracy. http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/gambians-urged-to-join-greentech-environmental-solution
“Background note: The Gambia”.U.S. Department of State (October 2008).
Doing Business Report 2013 – World Bank
GreenTech Gambia official webpage, 2013. http://www.greentechgambia.com/stove-donations/
Hatab Fadera “Gambia to commence rail system in 2013:- Discloses President Jammeh, as he opens parliament”, The Daily Observer. 23 April 2012.
Mogens Slot Knudsen .C.F. Nielsen . 2013. http://www.cfnielsen.com/project.php?id=38.
Seed Initiative. 2013. GreenTech Company Ltd - fuel briquettes from groundnut shells combined with fuel efficient stoves.Seed winner 2011. http://www.seedinit.org/en/awards/winners-database/2011-awards/greentech-company-ltd-fuel-briquettes-from-groundnut-shells-combined-with-fuel-efficient-stoves.html

Location: Banjul (Gambia)

Sector: Manufacturing

Official website: http://www.greentechgambia.com/

Key figures:

GreenTech is a small and medium enterprise and at the moment it is present only in Gambia. The managing director of GreenTech further revealed that over 250,000€ were invested in GreenTech Gambia Co. Ltd. He added that since the beginning of the company, he and his wife have been working closely with the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment to ensure the company becomes actuality “as the ultimate aim is to save our forest”. Two years of research were necessary to come up with the company, he said, while calling on all Gambia to use this latest technology as the founders said “which is the cheapest way of saving our forest more economically”.

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