Hike in gas price : How Charcoal trader makes brisk business

Charcoal traders like madam Chigozie Arinze are increasingly making brisk business  as Nigerians continue to patronise charcoal sellers as substitute to cooking gas due to its ever increasing price; ADEOLA TUKURU  reports. 

Demand for charcoal

In big cities, such as Kano, Port Harcourt, Lagos and FCT, the demand for charcoal due to the hike in fuel price is continually found in large markets and the business is a thriving one. 
Undoubtedly, settlers in these cities have a high affinity for roasted food like roasted plantain, roasted corn , Suya, roasted fish etc and some even use it at their homes .
Using charcoal to prepare local delicacies 

Also, foreigners in these cities and towns find charcoal quite useful as they use it to mostly prepare their local delicacies. 
For Madam Chigozie who hails from Delta state and lives in Karu, FCT the high cost of kerosene and cooking gas had turned to be blessing in disguise for her business.
In a chat with Business Starter in Abuja, she said more people now patronise her as the use of charcoal continues to gain popularity.
She said most roasted yam and plantain sellers patronized her, adding her sales have doubled over time as she gets patronage from a wide range of customers.
She explained that a full sack of charcoal, last one and half months depending on the usage, now sells for  between N2, 500 and N3,000 from N1,500.
In her words “I think the high cost of kerosene and gas is a blessing in disguise as I now sell about five bags per day, the same measure I sold in a week before.
She said that her profit in the past two weeks has increased as many people now troop to her shop to purchase charcoal in different quantities.

Benefit of charcoal to food vendors
“Food vendors are not left out in the rush for charcoal because they can no longer afford the prices of cooking gas,” she said.
She explained that the high costs of kerosene and gas had given charcoal a sudden prominence, adding that charcoal sellers now made brisk business and on high patronage.
“I knew people will rush to buy charcoal because it has happened many times, so I bought huge stock in December, so I am making more profit now,” she said.
She insisted that charcoal was the best for cooking, saying that it burns blue flame like gas, urging people to imbibe the culture of using it for cooking.
She said charcoal burns blue flame like gas and is better compared to fire wood which burns red flame and make pots to be black and dirty. 
Majority of the woods used to produce charcoal derived from trees generally described as a hard woods which exist in large quantities in the North-Central parts in Nigeria. 

While Business Starter sampled another opinion of residents , Mr Godwin Mbachu said he had to buy a bag of charcoal for his wife because he could no longer afford the high cost of cooking gas .
He urged the federal government to take drastic step in ensuring the availability of kerosene and cooking gas in order to make life less expensive for the masses.

Prices of cooking gas 

Reports have it that the price of 12.5kg of cooking gas has risen from N3,200 a few months back to about N7,500 in some parts of the country.
According to the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), an increment in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), also known as cooking gas is worrisome.
NALPGAM’s President, Mr Nosa Ogieva-Okunbor, made this known while speaking at the association’s 34th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Symposium in Lagos.
Ogieva-Okunbor noted that LPG consumption in Nigeria had increased from 550,000 Metric Tonnes in 2017 to about 1.2 million Metric Tonnes in 2020 going by NALPGAM’S members’ investments in LPG plants.
Starting a charcoal business in Nigeria
With a large charcoal market existing in Europe, America,  Asia, the global worth continues to retain it’s multi-billion dollar value. This poses a huge opportunity for deep-pocket investors looking to make investments in the energy sector. For instance, 70% of the slightly over 60,000 metric tons of charcoal used yearly in the United Kingdom comes from Africa.
 The value of a ton of charcoal is between 200 Euros to 210 Euros. A charcoal supplier exporting between 1,000 to 10,000 metric tons yearly would be generating an annual revenue between the values of 200,000 Euros to 2,000,000 Euros.
The charcoal business

For a very long time, Nigerians focused solely on exportation of crude oil, and many other natural resources that could be exported were ignored. But thankfully, things seem to have changed these days. Nigerians have now discovered other products that are in high demand in the international market and readily available in Nigeria. the export market in Nigeria is booming like never before.
On the list of highly profitable and easy to find exportable products is charcoal. You can earn huge profits with very little effort just from exporting charcoal to Europe and America.  
This is the most popular business opportunity exploited in the charcoal industry in Nigeria, and around the world. With tens of thousands of metric tons of charcoal exported yearly from Nigeria, the revenues generated makes the sector lucrative. Here, the sales could be done by local traders in the market, or by large players exporting the charcoal products outside the country.
Charcoal export, distribution
There are markets for charcoal in other continents, the biggest market is in Europe. Therefore, when you want to start searching for buyers, you should look at countries like Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Poland to mention a few.
You don’t have to worry about competition in this business because the demand for charcoal exceeds supply by all means. Even though there are many other countries where charcoal is made (like Thailand, Malaysia, Brazil and several other African countries), the Nigerian type is mostly preferred over others because it is believed to be of better quality.
Where charcoal can be found
This product is virtually available all over Nigeria as many local communities have perfected the technology of charcoal production. Some known charcoal deports Made in Nigeria are found in places like Oyo, Isheyin, Saki Igbo-Ora, Ogbomoso- all in the western part of the country. We also have depots in Jebba, Omu Aran, Egbe, Kabba in the North Central states. Charcoal is found in abundance also in Minna, Jos and Kaduna. Besides, an individual can produce his own charcoal wherever he/she is located.

Uses and demands

Today, there is increased usage of charcoal. Besides being the fuel that cooks steaks, hotdogs, and hamburgers, a number of companies have discovered that charcoal can be used in certain metallurgical purifying treatments and as a filter to remove organic compounds such as chlorine, gasoline, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals from water and air.
Getting clean, uncontaminated drinking water is a challenge in the world today due to pollution; our waterways, seas and oceans have been polluted, making it difficult for us to get access to clean, natural water. It has therefore become necessary for us to find ways to purify our drinking water without destroying the nutrients and benefits that natural water is supposed to offer.
One of the ways this is achieved is by filtering the water with charcoal. If you have ever seen a black substance in a water filter, that’s  charcoal. Interestingly, the concept of using charcoal to purify water is not a new one; it’s been around for ages and has been used for that purpose since far back as 2,000 years ago. But it is now being industrialized more than ever before.