Char­coal costs hit new record amid fall­ing de­mand for gas

Business Daily (Kenya) - - ECONOMY & POLITICS - Neville Otuki

Char­coal prices have hit a new record in a pe­riod that has seen de­mand for cook­ing gas fall on ris­ing costs.

Data from the Kenya Na­tional Bureau of Statis­tics (KNBS) show that the price of char­coal in a four kilo­gramme tin has steadily risen to an av­er­age of Sh81.86, the high­est since KNBS started mak­ing pub­lic monthly prices of the com­mod­ity in 2007.

Char­coal prices have more than dou­bled since 2008 when the tin re­tailed at an av­er­age of Sh35, a blow to low-in­come house­holds.

But gas prices have been on rise since March with the 13- kilo­gramme cylin­der cur­rently re­tail­ing at Sh2, 250 from slightly be­low Sh2, 000 in March.

This has trig­gered a steady drop in con­sump­tion since quar­ter one of the year with monthly con­sump­tion fall­ing to 5,690 tonnes in March to 3,790 tonnes in July, re­flect­ing a 33 per cent drop.

Deal­ers have at­trib­uted the re­bound­ing prices to higher global costs at a time when the price of crude oil, from which the gas is ex­tracted, is ris­ing.

The prices tanked be­low Sh2, 000 last July af­ter the Trea­sury scrapped value added tax (VAT) on cook­ing gas to cut costs and boost up­take among poor house­holds.

The dec­i­ma­tion of some key forests like the Mau Com­plex has been blamed on char­coal deal­ers egged on by a ready mar­ket in Kenya’s ur­ban cen­tres.

Poor house­holds are also hurt­ing from ex­pen­sive kerosene, mostly used by low­in­come earn­ers for light­ing and cook­ing.

Poor house­holds are also hurt­ing from ex­pen­sive kerosene,

FILE

BRISK BUSI­NESS A char­coal trader at Mak­ina mar­ket in Kib­era, Nairobi.

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