Ban on charcoal export affecting foreign exchange – Stakeholders

The National Union of Charcoal Exporters has expressed worry over the continued ban on the exportation of charcoal, saying charcoal export was a major contributor to the Nigerian economy.

This was the bone of contention at the meeting convened by the union in collaboration with the federal ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja

According to the Director, Commodities and Export Department in the ministry Suleiman Audi, charcoal export was a major contributor to the Nigerian economy.

Audu, represented by Mr Jude Amalunweze, a Unit Head in the ministry, said Nigeria was the second largest exporter of charcoal in the world and first in Africa.

He regretted that charcoal export, which recorded global earnings of $24.2billion in 2018 and was one of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earners, had dwindled due to its suspension and deforestation.

He maintained that Nigeria can still generate foreign exchange and create employment from export of the commodity if adequate measures are put in place to address the negative challenges and impacts.

“As at 2020, Brazil, Nigeria and Ethiopia produced 6.3, 4.8 and 4.7 million metric tons respectively and shared 29 per cent of the global production.

“Nigeria took the 2nd position as the global largest exporter with $75.7million in 2019,” he said.

Audu said the meeting of relevant players in the charcoal business was, therefore, to stress the need for an aggressive afforestation programme that would address the challenges negatively affecting the sub-sector.

“The ministry is fully committed to providing the enabling environment to position the charcoal business to compete favourably, both locally and in the international market,” Audu added.

Earlier in his remarks, Mr Babatunde Edu, acting president of the union appealed to the Federal Government to lift the ban on charcoal exports.

Edu said charcoal played a major role in the nation’s economic growth, adding that stakeholders in the sub-sector, including exporters, marketers, transporters and investors were all affected by the ban on exports.

“Government’s ban on charcoal export is understandable; charcoal is produced from timber and other things.

“Government felt that exporting charcoal destroys the forest, hence the ban. However, we are appealing to government to lift the ban. Nigeria is the highest consumer of charcoal in Africa; the ban is affecting both the local users and exporters,” he said.