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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2023

Charcoal Trade in Niger-Product Flows and Business Models

Larwanou, Mahamane; Mutta, Doris; Wekesa, Chemuku; Roos, Anders


Charcoal is used in Africa for household energy, and the sector involves different actors with specific business strategies. Based on theories on sustainable business models and livelihoods, charcoal traders in five cities in Niger were surveyed about supply chains and strategies. Most charcoal is imported from Nigeria, and smaller quantities come from Benin and Burkina Faso or domestically. Men dominate the trade. Customers value charcoal quality, tree species, packaging, and low prices. Three groups of traders and their business models were identified: small-scale retailers, large-scale retailers, and wholesalers. The charcoal trade is typically combined with trade in other products and is frequently conducted with family members or friends; laborers are employed for loading and unloading. The charcoal business provides a complementary income for the traders' livelihoods. Most respondents believed that trade would increase in the future; wholesalers expected promising future business opportunities. This study concludes that improvements should focus on quality, better marketing skills, and more sustainable charcoal sourcing. Charcoal use in the Sahel region of Africa should also be studied further to enable the development of effective policies in the West African bioenergy sector. The cross-border charcoal trade creates a need for coordinated policies for a sustainable charcoal sector in the Sahel region.


bioenergy; business strategy; charcoal import; informal economy

Published in

2023, Volume: 14, number: 9, article number: 1910

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Forest Science
    Business Administration

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