NAIROBI, KENYA: It has been a back and forth engagement between the government and communities living around key forests on matters regarding conservation.
The communities are on the receiving end for encroaching into forest land, cutting down trees and engaging in activities that threaten forest coverage.
However, one man believes part of the solution lies in adopting technology to offer clean cooking methods to check activities that hurt conservation.
In June last year, social entrepreneur Cedrick Todwell, who is also Sistema.Bio commercial director teamed up with Alex Eaton, a bio digester inventor to reach East African households with a new technology.
It allows anyone with two cows or 150 chickens to produce cooking gas and organic fertiliser.
“I questioned what would happen to earth with the high rate of urbanization,” he said.
Todwell thought it wise to take action on environment degradation.
“I came up with a system that solves today’s challenges.”
He explained, “The cow eats grass and poops. The system converts the poop into cooking gas and organic fertilizer.”
Ordinary bio digesters require expansive land and takes longer to build. Todwell has teamed up with Alex Eaton to roll out a technology in East Africa that can be built in three hours at a monthly payment rate of Sh4,000 to Sh8,000.
With flexible repayment periods spread across the year, one can buy and install the equipment which costs between Sh79000 to Sh1.2 Million depending on the system size.
The new bio digester, also known as Sistema.Bio, is a hermetic hybrid reactor. It receives daily waste from the farm and mixes the manure with water. Upon fermentation, biogas is produced and conducted through pipes to the points of use. At the other end of the system comes the bio fertilizer.
Todwell works with farmers in Mt Kenya, Kiambu, Murang’a, Kericho, Eldoret and parts of Kisumu and has sold over 1500 units in Kenya.
“We focus on rolling out to different parts of the country because a lot of waste can be turned into energy.”
Todwell’s idea comes at a time when the government is trying to transition households from over relying on kerosene and firewood for cooking, to gas.
The project is called Mwananchi gas, expected to start this year. It aims to distribute close to four million households with 6kg cylinders fitted with burners and grills. In September, Petroleum PS Andrew Kamau said the project will have procured the first batch of 300,000-6kg cylinders by March next year and distribute them by June 30 next year.
“We will start the registration of people who will benefit from the project by September 17, 2018,” he said.
The households shortlisted to benefit from the project will pay Sh2,000, which is more than a 50 per cent discount for the gas cylinder, burner, and grill, against the market rates of about Sh5,000.
Todwell says he is optimistic of reaching 20,000 households with his bio digester project by 2020. He plans to train more female technicians and partner with counties in making cooking gas from waste.
“The other area we are exploring is the use of human waste to produce gas. This is in the pipeline and has potential.”
The entrepreneur has been nominated for the 100 Tropics Changemakers 2018 Award for championing use of renewable bio energy in Africa. He hopes to be among the top 12 finalists as he strives to enable more low income communities’ access affordable energy.