In this interview, the Managing Director, Adako Kwanashie shares their involvement in the clean cookstoves sector.
Give us a brief introduction of your organisation. What are the objectives of your organization?
Sukuni Renewables Limited has been involved in research, design, fabrication and marketing of improved cookstoves and fuels for over 6 years. Our main markets are: Kaduna, Kogi, Akwa Ibom State and Abuja.
What does your organization seek to achieve in Nigeria’s cooking energy market?
Our company seeks to produce and sell a minimum of one million improved cookstoves by 2020 in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. To achieve this aim, we will collaborate with local and international partners to increase investments in our production infrastructure and marketing/distribution campaigns.
What are the opportunities in the business environment that have supported your organisation’s involvement in the clean cookstove sector over the years?
The past couple of years in Nigeria have been marked with increased awareness by policy makers and the general public about the hazards of cooking with traditional three-stone fire that poses significant health and environmental risks. This awareness coupled with the rising cost of domestic fuels such as kerosene and cooking gas has created an excellent opportunity for our organisation to develop a profitable business that provides innovative solutions.
How are your customers reacting to your products in the market – benefits of using your product?
Our customers have complimented our products for being affordable, innovative and fuel efficient. In particular, many of our customers have praised our battery powered improved stove for reducing cooking time and stress, and for being a smoke-less and convenient way to cook with biochar briquettes.
Job creation and the empowerment of women seem to be increasingly important. How has your organization helped to drive employment generation and the empowerment of women?
We always regard women as critical factors to successfully achieving our objectives. A major segment of our retail distributors are women who sell charcoal/firewood in their local communities. Our marketing plan takes cognizance of the importance of women by presenting tailored messages targeted at women. The messages highlight the fact that women are at greater risk from the dangers of using traditional cooking methods/fuels and consequently stand to benefit more from improved cook stoves.
If you are asked to advise the Federal Government of Nigeria on policy options, what are the three most important things the government can do to expand the market?
The three most important things the government can do to expand the market for clean cookstoves in Nigeria are:
Creating awareness on the danger of cooking with traditional cookstoves and the benefit of cooking with improved/clean cookstoves as well as environmentally friendly fuels in Nigeria will significantly increase the adoption rate.
Taxes and Regulations:
A lot of people who use traditional cooking methods are low/mid-income homes and price is a major disincentive to switching to an improved cook stove. Government can encourage more people to adopt improved cook stoves by providing tax reliefs on clean cook stove products and by instituting regulations which encourage local commercial production of improved cook stoves and renewable fuels like biochar briquettes.
Funding and Incentives:
The clean cook stove industry in Nigeria will benefit greatly from government investments in standardisation, knowledge acquisition, local raw material supply chain development, modern machinery acquisition, low interest rate financing and subsidies.
If an enabling environment is not created by the government, what future risks do you envisage?
If an enabling environment is not created, the Nigerian clean cook stove industry will be at risk of low patronage in the future. This will be due to low purchasing power of the consumer, low awareness about the benefits of improved cooking stoves and fuels, inaccessibility and unavailability of the clean cookstoves and fuel.
Where do you envisage your organization to be in the next 5 years in terms of production?
Sukuni Renewables is currently setting up a clean cook stove and biochar briquette production factory in Abuja, to bring us closer to our main markets and reduce transportation and warehousing costs. This factory will feature a 2,500 batch ceramic furnace, automated steel cutting/bending machines, and biochar briquette production and packaging equipment. Over the next five years, we plan to gradually raise our minimum production capacity to 15,000 stoves per month and commission a 1000kg per day biochar briquette production line.
What risk does your business face and what is your biggest challenge?
Our expansion plans are at risk due to our inability to complete scale-up activities because of high capital costs of equipment required for commercial production, such as furnaces, steel fabrication tools and briquetting machines. In addition, the cost of warehousing and transportation increases production cost and makes our products significantly more expensive. This challenge limits our ability to compete successfully in the industry.
What are your suggestions for moving the cooking energy market forward in Nigeria?
The goal of switching all homes in Nigeria who currently use traditional cook stoves/fuels to improved clean cook stoves and fuels require broad participation from all relevant stakeholders such as government agencies, national/international NGO’s and private sector players. These stakeholders can do more towards investing in public awareness and science based research on clean cooking issues.
Is there any other thing you would like to share?
Thanks for reading about our work at Sukuni Renewables. We look forward to hearing from you. Drop us a few words at firstname.lastname@example.org