CADEP-SFM Good Practises

Title: Briquette Making at Small-scale Level in Kajiado County, Kenya

Category: Forestry

Country: Kenya

Audience: Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs)


Wood energy in form of fire wood and charcoal is the primary source of energy for cooking and heating in Kenya. It is estimated that 90% of Kenyan rural households use firewood while 83% of urban households depend on charcoal for domestic energy. Increase in population and high cost of alternative energy sources has increased demand for wood-based energy leading to unsustainable harvesting of trees for biomass energy, especially charcoal production. To enhance supply of wood-based energy, Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) adopted briquetting technology in 2004, for wide scale promotion. The technology relies on wood and agricultural wastes as the primary raw materials. Initially, briquette production entailed making briquettes by hand pressing. However, the challenge with this procedure was that it produced low quality energy briquettes that took a longer time to dry to the required moisture content. To these challenges, briquette making machine was introduced


Objectives of briquette making are to:

  1. Use charcoal fines to increase biomass energy sources for domestic and industrial consumption.
  2. Improve livelihood through establishment of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).


Mr. Nelson Nyaosi Kenyanya, an entrepreneur in Kiserian, Kajiado County adopted briquetting technology after a visit to KEFRI-National Forest Products Research Programme in Karura where he was exposed to the practice. KEFRI provided advisory services and offered briquetting machine for one month to Mr. Kenyanya. With the assistance of an engineer, Mr. Kenyanya fabricated an electric briquetting machine at a cost of Ksh. 72,000/=. The machine uses 15 units of power costing Ksh. 300/= to produce 300 kg of briquettes.

Mr. Kenyanya makes briquettes in a space of about 34 ft x 100 ft (~10.3 x 33.3 m). The process of briquettes making involves acquisition of; charcoal fines purchased at a cost of between Ksh 150 and Ksh 200 per 90 kg bag and red soil used as a binder purchased at a cost of Ksh 400 per 150 kg of soil. The charcoal fines are then mixed with the red soil binder at a ratio of 10:1. The mixture is compressed in the briquetting machine to produce briquettes which are then shade dried on wire-meshed shelves. The briquettes take 3-4 days to dry after which they are stored on wooden shelves. About 300 kg wet-weight briquettes produce about 150 kg dry-weight briquettes. The process of making the briquette requires at least two (2) workers to complete. Mr. Kenyanya uses some of the briquettes in his hotel while the rest is sold to a neighbouring Primary School.


The impacts of the technology include:

  1. Creation of employment through briquette making
  2. Improved income through sale of briquettes
  3. Reduced pressure on forests as less wood is cut for charcoal making
  4. Reduced solid waste from charcoal fines
  5. Increased adoption of technology in various counties of Kenya



  1. The briquetting technology has been in existence for over 10 years without challenges of raw materials.
  2. Over 20 SMEs have adopted and replicated the technology in various counties.
  3. The entrepreneur has gained experience, is autonomous and is scaling-up the technology without any external assistance.
  4. Demand for briquettes is increasing as it burns for a longer period compared to charcoal
  5. Cost of production is relatively low

Innovation and success factors

  1. Entrepreneurs who have adopted the technology have modified the briquetting machine by including two extrusions, which has increased production.
  2. Mr. Kenyanya plans to use gum arabic as a binder instead of the red soil since gum arabic briquettes have higher calorific value and low ash content.


Constraints encountered include;

  1. Gum arabic as a binder is not readily available
  2. The ash content in briquettes produced using soil as a binder is high


  1. The briquetting technology is a sustainable enterprise.
  2. Charcoal fines initially considered as waste and occasionally dumped by charcoal vendors in urban and rural areas can be converted to alternative energy source.


Briquette making is a viable enterprise and more stakeholders should be encouraged through enhanced awareness and sensitisation to scale-up the technology.