IN a move hailed as a significant step toward environmental conservation and economic growth, a N$60-million green charcoal production facility was inaugurated at Arandis on Monday.
The factory is set to provide stable employment to over 50 full-time employees and aims to bring around N$200 million into Namibia’s economy by 2024.
The factory is operated by Green Charcoal Namibia, a subsidiary of the Belgium-based Tolefi Group, and sister company to Carbobois, a prominent charcoal distributor in Europe.
“Our story commences with Carbobois, which successfully distributed over 48 000 tonnes of charcoal products in 2022, said Serge Goblet, the founder and chief executive of the Tolefi Group.
He said the factory was the result of 18 months of planning, construction and the invaluable support and cooperation of the municipality of Arandis and the Erongo Regional Council.
Namibia has grappled pervasive bush encroachment affecting up to 45 million hectares of land.
“Namibian farmers recognised the potential of using this encroaching bush to produce sustainable charcoal, which soon found a promising market in Europe,” Goblet said.
The factory boasts a 4 000m2 covered space with two screening lines that sort charcoal by size.
“Both briquettes and charcoal are packaged in retail bags by our three packing machines.”
Goblet said Green Charcoal Namibia has already secured contracts for the delivery of 30 000 tonnes of packaged charcoal and 8 000 tonnes of packaged briquettes for 2024. The company is also researching biochar and wood pellets as part of its environmental commitment.
Minister in the Presidency Christine //Hoebes, who officiated the inauguration, said the project embodies “the spirit of Namibia’s determination to embrace innovation and lead in the pursuit of a greener, more sustainable future”.
Arandis mayor Risto Kapenda emphasised the economic implications of the project.
“This means that about 14% of all Namibian charcoal exports will be produced here at Arandis,” he said, adding that the factory would contribute to defeating the looming unemployment issue.
Erongo governor Neville Andre said the factory marks a significant milestone for Arandis, a town which has had to diversify its economic base following setbacks in the uranium sector.
“Arandis is rising as a beacon of hope for Namibia to champion greener and eco-friendly charcoal production,” he said.