Rwanda bans charcoal for cooking in Kigali

A man sells charcoal. Charcoal is affordable for the majority. (File)
A man sells charcoal. Charcoal is affordable for the majority. (File)

Rwanda is banning the use of charcoal for cooking in the capital, Kigali, and restricting supplies to the city from rural areas.

The ban is aimed at protecting forests by clamping down on the illegal trade in charcoal. In future people will be encouraged to use gas.

Rwanda follows Kenya and Uganda in taking action to discourage the use of charcoal, which is blamed for causing breathing problems for tens of thousands of people every year.

The trade is also damaging forests and causing carbon emissions, which are blamed for global warming.

Of the 1.4 million people living in Kigali, 85% rely on wood fuel for cooking.

Most of this is charcoal produced illicitly in and around the protected Virunga wildlife reserve, an area shared with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

In DR Congo the production is controlled by militias, which means the Rwandan and Ugandan authorities can only intercept supplies after they are transported across the border.

Rwanda’s government will encourage people to use gas, by offering it at affordable rates for poor people, who can also use a hire-purchase scheme to buy a gas cooker.

In 2018, Uganda banned exports of charcoal to curb demand, while Kenya stopped transportation of the commodity from some areas.