Sustainable Woodfuel Value Chains in Africa: Governance, Social, Economic and Ecological Dimensions

People are standing by a big truck loaded with what seems to be bags of coal.
(Photo: Christian Pilegaard Hansen)


Woodfuel (charcoal and firewood) constitutes over 70% of the energy needs for cooking and heating in sub-Saharan Africa. The consumption is on the rise due to population growth, poverty and urbanisation. The production is accessible to a large number of households, yet characterised by poor harvesting and processing practices.

The wood fuel sectors in most sub-Saharan African countries are characterised by a high degree of informality. There are on-going efforts in most countries to formalise the sector, that is, to organise, regulate and control the production and trade, typically under the heading of sustainability. These plans give stronger roles to institutions of the state to control the production and trade through permits, taxes, and enhanced controls. However, attempts at formalising the sector without an intimate understanding of the ecological, social, and economic contexts within which the production and trade take place, run the risk of failure or may compromise wood fuel-dependent livelihoods. Sustainable wood fuel production and trade remains a contested issue and big challenge in Africa that needs to be tackled urgently and collectively with all stakeholders involved.

At its 22nd session held in March 2020 in South Africa, the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) requested FAO to support the compilation, analysis and dissemination of good practices for sustainable charcoal production as well as the adoption of alternative sources of energy and recommended that FAO support countries in the formulation and implementation of national charcoal strategies. Indeed a number of organisations have been working in the sector with the aim of generating knowledge and evidence to support decision making for sustainable wood fuel production and consumption. This conference will provide an opportunity to discuss current knowledge, practices and experiences and best ways forward.

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Tentative programme







The programme may be subject to change.





The conference will be held at the campus of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Kumasi is easily reached by public transportation from Accra, the capital of Ghana.

The conference is hybrid, allowing participation with physical or virtual (on-line) presence. If a hybrid conference is not possible due to continued COVID-19 restrictions, the conference will convert to full virtual conference.

The conference will have two days of presentations and discussions divided into academic, policy and practice sessions. The third day (25 November) is a field trip. See the tentative programme of the conference above.

Simultaneous interpretation between English and French will be available.


Submission of abstracts is closed.



Registration for the conference is now open.

Participation in the conference is free of charge, except for the field trip, which has a cost of USD 40 to be paid on the spot at the conference in cash.

You can register for the physical presence or online participation, or a combination, or for individual days.

Registration (in English):

Registration (in French):

Please note that the abstract submission has been closed.