, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 11 – Global Supply Solutions which produces charcoal briquettes from pineapple plant waste, has signed a Sh110 million ($1.1 million) funding from ICDC to finance expansion of its Thika-based factory.
The money will be used to double Global Supply Solutions’ (GSS) capacity from the current 25,000 metric tonnes per annum to 50,000metric tonnes, as the company turns focus on expanding outside the country.
Construction of two additional processing lines at the Thika plant has already started, and is set for completion by mid this year. “This funding will also help us to begin our journey of replicating our success in Kenya in multiple countries, mainly across Africa,” says GSS managing director and founder Allan Marega.
ICDC is a State-backed fund that finances projects that have a high potential for creating wealth and jobs in diverse sectors of the economy.
“ICDC is proud to have facilitated this ground-breaking technology which has the potential of revolutionalising renewable energy not only in Kenya but in many parts of the world,” said the ICDC credit manager Edward Gitau while noting that the factory’s production capacity can be up scaled to provide in excess of 250,000 tons of the briquettes per year.
The pineapple briquettes firm, which employs more than 20 people at its highly automated Thika factory, has already signed a long-term contract for supply of pineapple plant waste with Del Monte plantations, one of Kenya’s largest producers of the crop.
With charcoal requiring the damaging cutting down of trees and coal emitting huge amounts of polluting carbon, briquettes are seen as the green energy of the future. The fact that they are made from pineapple plant waste also makes it a renewable source of energy since acreage of the crop is set to grow in tandem with population growth.
Marega says GSS partnered with Del Monte due to the company’s shared vision of pursuing sustainable and environmentally friendly energy.
GSS has patented in Kenya and other countries the technology of turning pineapple plant waste into “high-calorie clean burning biomass briquettes.”
The innovative briquettes are cheaper than coal yet they burn two times longer, with the added advantage of producing low carbon emissions.
Some of the countries which GSS is targeting for expansion include Ghana, South Africa, Costa Rica, Philippines, Thailand and Australia where the company has specific partnerships with Delmonte and other large pineapple producers.
Marega says he is already supplying various industries and in talks with high-energy consumers such as cement manufacturers and tea companies that want to sign long-term briquette supply contracts with GSS. The company also sells the eco-friendly fuel in retail quantities at its Thika plant in addition to distributing through various saccos.
Marega says GSS is in talks with other financiers to finance the planned expansion. “Our extensive research and development has presented great potential for a cleaner, greener energy source for homes and industries now and in the future,” says Marega.
Established in 2003 as a supply company delivering a wide range of goods to big companies, GSS has since 2008 turned more focus on renewable energy, whose flagship is the briquettes unit.