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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Operations and improvement needs in the informal charcoal sector – A participatory value stream analysis

Roos, Anders; Mutta, Doris; Larwanou, M.; Wekesa, C.; Kowero, G.


Developing profitable and sustainable charcoal supply chains in Sub-Saharan Africa requires good knowledge about their properties, input needs and impacts. Charcoal supply chains in Taita Taveta and Kwale counties, Kenya, were analysed to identify operational and sustainability improvement opportunities. Using operations man agement, lean engineering and participatory research, charcoal value streams' processes, resources, and outcomes were analysed. Charcoal production and trade have low entry barriers, slow-paced innovation, and thin profit margins for value chain actors. Production is labour intensive, and the actors need specific skills, knowhow, and resources for proper business performance. The value chain's profitability and sustainability can be improved by regenerating exploited quality tree species, improving operation efficiency and safety, promoting market development, and appropriate policies on charcoal production and trade. The study's findings can guide the development of enabling policies and regulatory frameworks for the charcoal industry and improve the actors' performance in the charcoal value chain.


bioenergy; energy policy; lean; supply chain management; sustainable livelihoods framework

Published in

International Forestry Review
2021, volume: 23, number: 3, pages: 351-364

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Economics
Mutta, Doris
African Forest Forum
Larwanou, M.
Abdou Moumouni University
Wekesa, C.
Kenya Forestry Research Institute
Kowero, G.
African Forest Forum

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG7 Affordable and clean energy
SDG1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere
SDG9 Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation

UKÄ Subject classification

Forest Science
Business Administration
Other Civil Engineering

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)