Babajide Oluwase is an Entrepreneur and a Social Development Practitioner.
He is passionate about helping vulnerable people and marginalised communities lead healthy and productive lives. For the past 3 years, he has designed and led the implementation of several initiatives in a bid to address various social problems relating to environment, health, and education in Nigerian communities.
Babajide is the Founder of RenewDrive, an initiative which focuses on providing alternative clean and affordable cooking energy for every household in Nigeria, especially in the rural communities.
Unlike wood charcoal, this briquette fuel is cleaner because it is almost smokeless, and this is as a result of the transformation it has been subjected to during the making process. It is also a means of renewing solid wastes which are usually set aflame and this exposes human health to various hazards. The wide adoption of this initiative will reduce deforestation in our rural communities. Hence, the sustainability of our environmental resources can be achievable at the long run.
Initially, I talked about using sawdust as raw material because it is abundantly available in one of the urban slums that our team visited during the feedback stage. Some other materials like dry shrubs, sugarcane bagasse, rice husk, corncob, and peanut shells can also be used when carbonised. These types of agricultural waste are readily available in virtually every rural community across Nigeria. In addition to the sawdust mixing, an appropriate binder like paper pulp or starch will be added at 15-20% concentration and mixed thoroughly to enhance compactness of the briquettes.
For small-scale producers, a manual briquette machine is appropriate, because it requires less capital and technical know-how to operate and maintain. By using a manual screw briquette press, one can make between 100 to 150 briquettes a day. Therefore, to provide a village with enough briquettes to serve their heating needs, at least, 60 manual briquette presses will be needed for a start. Then subsequently, we will measure the impact and know when to scale up.
Simply put, opportunity costs determine the choice of what we do on daily basis and how we spend our time. For women to get involved in briquette making, they will need to reduce the time spent on existing businesses and maybe forgo their relaxation at leisure hours. However, the access to constant affordable clean cooking energy and considerable profit inherent in the business is encouraging. For the time frame to be devoted to using the press, it will be dependent on individual discretions. Though our team will constantly support them to be committed to the activity so as to meet up with the daily fuel requirements of the people.
On behalf of RenewDrive team, I say thank you for your time.
RenewDrive is an initiative that is in the process of becoming a social enterprise. Currently, it involves a four-man team of professionals from Environmental and Engineering fields, who have at different times steered the planning and implementation of various youth-led initiatives. The name RenewDrive was coined from the term 'renewable fuel', and this is simply because the product can be made from various combustible agricultural waste. These include but not limited to dry shrubs, sugarcane bagasse, rice husk, sawdust, corncob, and peanut shells.
Participating in the briquette-making program will help community members make cheaper and more efficient cooking fuel from combustible waste as against the usual charcoal/wood fuel in circulation. Meaning that, when it comes to household cooking energy, they can pay less and cook more. This will in turn enable them to save more. And the other vital benefit is that selling the product can serve as a source of income for unemployed women and youth, and as passive income for those that are employed/self-employed. After all, nothing is wrong with having more than one source of livelihood. They might not necessarily forgo any activity, because the briquette-making program in each community will be as flexible as possible, and to better cover a large section of each community, we will adopt the ‘train-the-trainer’ approach within the community. This will enable the community members to train themselves while we are not there.
As regards the specific NGOs we are likely to partner with to implement the project, we can work with LEAP Africa and YMCA of Lagos because they have an established working relationship with most communities in the region.