Methodological and Technological Issues in Technology Transfer

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Case Study 1

Research, Development and Commercialisation of the Kenya Ceramic Jiko (KCJ)
Daniel M. Kammen
Energy and Resources Group
University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-3050

Keywords: Kenya, energy efficient stoves, informal sector, subsidies, North South, South South, technology transfer

The Kenya Ceramic Stove, or Jiko (KCJ), is a charcoal-burning stove that is roughly 30% efficient, and if used properly can save 20 - 50% in fuel consumption over simple 'unimproved' stoves or a traditional three-stone fire (Walubengo, 1995). The KCJ was developed after study of a Thai 'bucket' stove that was examined partially through a 'South-South' dialog over stove characteristics and design.

The KCJ is a portable improved charcoal burning stove consisting of an hour-glass shaped metal cladding with an interior ceramic liner that is perforated to permit the ash to fall to the collection cavity at the base. A single pot is placed on the top of the stove. There are now more than 200 businesses, artisans, and micro-enterprise or informal sector manufacturers producing over 13,000 stoves each month. There are over 700,000 KCJ's in use in Kenya (Walubengo, 1995). The KCJ is found in over 50% of all urban homes, and roughly 16% of rural homes. Stove models adapted from the KCJ are now being disseminated in many countries across Africa, and wood-burning variants are being introduced and promoted in rural areas as well.

The fuel savings of the KCJ have important economic benefits to the users, who in some cases devote a quarter of family income to charcoal purchases (Kammen, 1995). The stoves can also reduce the pollution exposure of families using the stove (see also Box 14.1). The WHO reports that more than two million premature deaths per year can be attributed globally to the indoor air pollution caused by household solid fuels. Reducing the harmful products of incomplete combustion produced by household stoves is an important benefit from the development of cleaner cookstoves.

The KCJ is the result of research on stove design, efficiency, and patterns of usage initiated in the 1970's and actively continued through the 1980s (Barnes et al., 1994; Kammen, 1995). A single private sector company, Jerri International, served as the initial manufacturer of the KCJ.

Since 1982 the Kenya Energy and Environment Organisation (KENGO) has organised promotion and outreach efforts to encourage the use of the KCJ. A number of NGOs and national development agencies have played important roles in the evolution of the stove and the stove dissemination process, and have worked both within Kenya and across sub-Saharan Africa to promote the manufacture and sales of the KCJ through a network of informal-sector stove entrepreneurs.

A decision was made not to directly subsidise commercial stove production and dissemination. Initially stoves were expensive (~ US$ 15/stove) sales were slow, and quality control has been a significant problem. Continued research and refinement and expanded numbers and types of manufacturers and vendors increased competition, and spurred innovations in materials used and in production methods. The KCJ can now be purchased in a variety of sizes and styles. Prices for KCJ models have decreased to roughly US$ 1 - 3 (Walubengo, 1995). This decrease is consistent with the 'learning curve' theory of price reductions through innovations that result from experience gained in the manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales process. Two architects of the stove programme received an international award for their work, which is an important recognition for the need for research on often unheralded but important technologies.

The ceramic liner of the KCJ degrades over time, and needs to be replaced. Street vendors of stoves, and many of the larger stove sales outlets take 'used' stoves back, discounting the purchase of a new stove. The liners of the old stove are then removed, the metal cladding is repaired, if needed, and the stove is reassembled, repainted, and resold. This process has also served to foster wider informal sector stove economy.

The KCJ can reduce fuel use by 30 - 50%, although charcoal production itself can have significant environmental impacts, and the attractiveness of the KCJ may have increased this demand. The KCJ also reduces emissions of trace gases and particulate matter, which contributes to acute respiratory infection, the leading cause of illness in developing nations. Reported levels of emissions reductions from KCJ range up to 50%, although this is a subject of ongoing research (Barnes et al., 1994). The KCJ and the dissemination process used in Kenya has now been widely disseminated (and adapted) across sub-Saharan Africa.

Lessons Learned
While avoiding direct subsidies, a number of organisations provide training, outreach services, publicity, and logistical support for the local commercial industry. This 'soft' subsidy can be particularly effective in facilitating the development and acceptance of a new technology without introducing the price distortions that can be associated with some forms of subsidy.

The lessons for international involvement that can be drawn from the KCJ case include:

Support for research both within developing nations and for research collaborations between developing nations can lead to significant innovations in the performance and commercialisation of what had been regarded by many as a simple and mature technology.

Extended, stable, programme support is invaluable while short-lived, episodic funding can lead to waste and inefficiency. There are significant technical, social, cultural and economic questions that must be addressed even for technologies that may appear simple.

Support for stove programmes need not take the form of direct subsidies. Partnerships between institutional groups, including NGOs and international organisations, involved in R&D, promotion, and training can support commercial producers and sellers if the mechanisms for feedback and cooperation are planned and developed.

Barnes, D.F., K. Openshaw, K. Smith, and R. van der Plas, 1994: What makes people cook with improved biomass stoves? World Bank Technical Paper No. 242, Energy Series.
Kammen, D. M., 1995b: From energy efficiency to social utility: Improved cookstoves and the Small is Beautiful Model of development. In Energy as an Instrument for Socio-economic Development. J. Goldemberg, T.B. Johansson, (eds.), United Nations Development Programme, New York, NY, pp. 50 - 62.
Walubengo, D., 1995: Commercialization of improved stoves: the case of the Kenya Ceramic Jiko (KCI). In Stove Images: a Documentation of Improved and Traditional Stoves in Africa. B. Westhoff, D. Germann, (eds.), Commission of the European Communities, Brussels.

Stephen Karekezi, Director
Aafrican Policy Research Network
P.O. Box 30979
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254-2-566032/571467
Fax: 254-2-561464/566231/740524

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