Friday, April 16, 2010

2 Dedications & An Idea

I dedicate this update to Fred Anane-Frimpong and Emmanuel K. Bensah Jnr.!

Two favourite men of mine with cojones of steel, and brains like that of Brain of Pinky & The Brain fame.

Emmanuel has, over the past one week, re-opened my eyes to see the value in the work I do in my Renewable Energy foundation.

He, selflessly, promoted and encouraged the little I have been fighting for, and made a good mountain of that mole-hill … I was encouraged to keep my dwindling spirits up; something which, for the Renewable Energy industry here in Ghana, translates into a lot.

Read his delightful blog at :

Fred (I delight to call ‘Faf’), launched last year, his intention to drive over-land from UK to Ghana (via West Africa) with a good friend of his, to raise awareness and money (all contributions going directly to WaterAid) for clean water for Ghanaians who need it most!

What crazy person drives over-land on such a campaign!

You gotta love them!

Read about Faf’s WaterDrive campaign at :

It’s worth every minute and penny spent, I guarantee!!

Middle of last year, when my Renewable Energy Foundation took off, I had grand dreams and some money. Not quite enough money, I found out 5 months later, when after Phase 1, I had –GH5000 (negative representing my debts after the affair).

I am just about to finish paying off those debts. Someone would learn her lesson, and back-peddle as fast as she can, into another interest zone … like opening a mini-eatery that will bring profit (cuisine happens to be my favourite hobby, and third alternative to a career for me).

I’m not Someone. I’m Golda, and I always have my swagger on! (I wish …)

So here I am, about to finish paying debts, and already thinking of jumping back in (with even better, fail-proof plans this time) to make my GH more sustainability-conscious.

I was thinking of several things I could do to help Ghanaians find a lasting, cheaper alternative to daily energy needs, and knowing I could only do one at a time, if I mean to do it right, I of course, needed to decide on what to start with first.

BRIQUETTES : majority of Ghanaians still use firewood and charcoal to cook. I won’t bore you with the various reasons why this is bad … you should all know by now. If you don’t, Google it up! Several attempts to mass educate on alternatives like LPG (a negative option if we’re thinking sustainability) has gotten nowhere.

But why has our government not mass-educated on briquettes?!!! Consistently, if ever??

Briquettes are eco-friendly ‘coals’.

They can be made out of any biodegradeable material (paper, plantain & cassava peels, banana peels, sawdust, wood chippings, fabric, etc).

Personally, what freaks me out about briquettes is the fact that any household can do it themselves, and it’s very easy to do – hence automatically being a great means of income for most non-working folks in areas of high demand.

All you need is have an old metal bucket, in which you can toss the trash material (whether it’s paper, peelings, wood elements); but you need to have a separate bucket per material.

Fill the bucket with your material and add enough water (doesn’t necessarily have to be chlorinated water) to allow you to mix into a thick mixture. Allow to soak for some hours or a day (if paper, work it until all shredded and soggy).

If you are doing it on a commercial basis, it will be advisable to have a local metal-worker fashion a basic compressor for you. This will simply compact the wet mixture into the shape you choose, as well as squeeze out most of the moisture from it, thus making your work quicker.

If it’s just on a small basis for the family, you can use your hands to scoop enough, squeeze out the moisture as dryly as your hands will allow you, and shape the matter into whatever form you want.

Whether commercial or self usage, briquettes must be dried in the sun after this phase, before they will successfully burn/act as a good source of bio-fuel.

So get a good, dry surface, and lay your briquettes out to dry for a day or two.

The best briquettes are well-dried, and have holes passing through them (this creates a greater surface area for combustion, thus burning better), so if you can, let your compressor be such that it punches holes through your briquettes.

Briquettes burn longer and hotter than charcoal as well, and they leave very little ash … plus, they ARE ECO-FRIENDLY!!

So I have decided that, when my ‘brokeness’ (temporary poverty) level decreases, I will start a training workshop for selected areas, both within and out of Accra, that have several low-income families that can benefit from such skills and knowledge.

After all, there are more than enough chop-bars, food vendors and farms around the country to supply coconut, palm husks, peelings, etc for these trainees to make some income selling briquettes in their neighbourhoods, at prices competitive and discouraging to what charcoal sells at.

It won’t be easy for me to get it off the ground, but neither was my Greenfoot Campaign last year, and I have survived it, so … HERE’S TO BRIQUETTES!!

If anyone wants to help or volunteer for this project, or has information that will be helpful, I will love you to share it with me. Any help is welcome!

In the words of my good friend, Fred Anane-Frimpong (Faf), I say, wish me luck, and hope I don’t need it!


  1. Golda! Many thanks for reciprocating, but chale, have you yet seen my invoice for the promotion?;-)) Seriously, very kind on ur part. As for state of impecuniousness, the good Lord knows of ur good intentions for society, and will ensure all is well as far as money is concerned. Keep on praying...u know it works and makes sense, right!

    We need more people like you--niche bloggers of sorts--who can blog passionately a bout a subject they are equally passionate about. What with climate change, volcanic ash problems, and all, Ghanaians need more education on saving up for the climate.

    I would love to say "keep the fire burning", but that's hardly ecologically correct, is it:-D

  2. Wow, wonderful idea! I know charcoal is a big expense for many families along with being unfriendly to human beings and the environment.
    Why dont you meet with a developmnet partner like Friends of the Eath or the DANIDA, CIDA etc and present your idea?

    Good luck!

  3. Emmanuel ... sometimes, your English leaves me stunned. Are you sure the Queen herself will be able to 'reciprocate' a response?
    I'll be praying that the Good Lord touches you to drop your invoice into the paper briquettes bucket ... and I'll be sure the keep a green fire burning. :D)))

    Kajsa ... I try ooo. It's not easy when you don't have a long record of achievements and 'financial probity' ... and sometimes I am too tired sorting my own things out to spend more time chasing after development partners only to be turned down. But they turn you down so nicely ... lol! On a more serious mote, I'll keep trying. Thanks for turning me onto these ones!

  4. There are much more efficient and healthy ways to burn briquettes. The new pyrolyzing stoves get more fuel value out of your fuel, and produce less air pollution. Some of them have charcoal for a byproduct, for use as biochar or further use as fuel. Salim Shaban's ACON makes briquettes out of water hyacinth and garbage, and burns them in "rocket stoves" in Bungoma, Kenya. There's enough weed mass in Ghana to supply a large part of your energy needs. Where you can deplete it, you are rid of the weeds. Where you cannot, your fuel supply is inexhaustible.