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Why People are Opting for Charcoal Stoves in Nigeria

Nigerians have been in constant hardship since 2015, leading to a reduction in standards of living and an increase in costs. Thus, charcoal stoves have become integral in household cooking in Nigeria. This increase in demand for charcoal stoves in Nigeria reflects a broader trend driven by economic, social, and infrastructural factors. They are also called charcoal pots.

Despite advancements in technology and the availability of modern cooking appliances, many Nigerians continue to rely on charcoal stoves. A combination of affordability, accessibility, cultural traditions, and the reliability of charcoal as a fuel source influences this preference. However, the increasing reliance on charcoal stoves also explains the population’s major hardships. It ranges from economic constraints to energy insecurity. Understanding why Nigerians are turning to charcoal stoves necessitates a closer look at these underlying challenges and the resilience of the people adapting to them.

Is Hardship the Leading Cause of the Use of Charcoal Stoves in Nigeria?

From the introduction above, you cannot take away hardship as the major reason the demand for charcoal in Nigeria rose tremendously. Here are the major reasons Nigerians are opting for low-cost options for preparing their meals:

Economic Constraints

Poverty and low-income earning are economic concerns in Nigeria. A substantial portion of the Nigerian population lives below the poverty line. This makes it difficult to afford more expensive cooking fuels like the popular liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or electricity. Charcoal, being cheaper and more accessible, becomes the preferred choice for cash-strapped households.

Another reason for the high demand for charcoal stoves in Nigeria is the rising fuel prices. The cost of LPG and other modern cooking fuels has been on the rise, partly due to global market fluctuations and local economic policies. This increase in fuel prices further pushes low-income families towards more affordable alternatives like charcoal. Currently, one kg of gas costs around 1,000 to 1,400 NGN. It makes it difficult for an average Nigerian to afford it.

Unreliable Electricity Supply:

Nigeria’s electricity grid is notoriously unreliable, with frequent and prolonged power outages. This inconsistency makes it impossible for people to use electric stoves daily. That is why many opt for more reliable cooking methods.

Besides, mandating people to use prepaid meters also makes it impractical for them to use certain electrical appliances in their homes, including electric cookers. So, the combination of high tariffs and unreliable supply makes electric cooking appliances less attractive compared to charcoal stoves in Nigeria.

Limited Access to LPG or Cooking Gas

In many rural and semi-urban areas, there is inadequate infrastructure for the distribution of cooking gas. This lack of access means that even if households can afford gas, they may not be able to purchase it easily or regularly.

Cultural and Social Factors:

Charcoal stoves are deeply ingrained in Nigerian culinary traditions. Many traditional dishes are believed to taste better when cooked over charcoal. So, there is a cultural familiarity and comfort with using these stoves.

In addition, charcoal does not stain the pots, only firewood does. This is another reason a typical Nigerian will opt for the stove.

Environmental and Health Considerations:

Some Nigerians view charcoal as a more environmentally friendly option than fossil fuels. However, charcoal stoves in Nigeria pose certain health risks. But other options like kerosene and gas have their health hazards. In terms of reliability, you can see that people will always opt for charcoal stoves in Nigeria.

Description of a Charcoal Stove

In Nigeria, typical charcoal stoves are the main cooking device in many households and among street food vendors, especially since the cost of goods increased. These stoves are generally made from metal, often recycled from scrap materials. But in rural areas, you can see some made from ceramic and clay. They usually have a cylindrical or boxy shape with a combustion chamber where charcoal is placed and burned. Inside the combustion chamber, a grate allows ash to fall through. The aim is to maintain proper airflow for efficient burning.

Some charcoal stoves in Nigeria have designs that include a removable ashtray beneath the grate for easier cleaning. The top of the stove is flat or slightly concave to hold pots and pans, with varying sizes to accommodate different cooking utensils. Many also have handles made from heat-resistant materials so you can easily carry it about without burning your palms.

Besides, you can light your charcoal stoves using kindling materials like paper or dry leaves. In that case, you will have to fan or blow on the charcoal to maintain the flame. You can control the heat by adjusting the quantity of charcoal.

Importance of Charcoal Stoves in Nigeria

They are known for their fuel efficiency. They also retain heat well and require less charcoal compared to open fires. Charcoal stoves are affordable, portable, and versatile. That is why you can use them for boiling, frying, grilling, and roasting.

Cost of charcoal stoves in Nigeria

Typical charcoal stoves cost around 52,000 NGN to 120,000 NGN. However, you can also find more affordable ones around 18,000 to 25,000 naira. Major brands are Jikokoa and Envirofit charcoal stoves with different varieties and functionalities. You can purchase them online at Jumia, Konga, and other stores.

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Ajangbadi, Ojo, Lagos State Lagos, Nigeria.
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