Development of the industrial bamboo sector in Ethiopia
Urban areas in Sub-Saharan Africa are within the most dynamic regions, worldwide. The worldwide increasing demand for sustainable construction materials and efficient value-chains could be closely interlocked to social and economic benefits of rural populations in the global South. The industrial utilization of bamboo in Africa is in its infancy with a strong development potential. Products made from alternate lignocellulosic raw materials, like bamboo, not only offer market potentials, but social and business perspectives for SMEs as well as micro-enterprises in Ethiopia and other Sub-Saharan economies. Besides the ecological advantages, a developing rural value-chain will benefit thousands of Ethiopian farmer families. Ethiopia has a very high potential due to its vast raw material stock (67 % of Africa’s bamboo resources) and the relatively stable political setting. First approaches on the utilization of native bamboo were explored in the late 1990’s. Nowadays, the wood-processing sector in Ethiopia is still a net importer. Lacking process knowledge and barriers for industrial players had limited the bamboo sector in East Africa to low-value products in the past.
The industrial bamboo sector in Ethiopia de-facto does not exist. However, Fraunhofer WKI showed that Ethiopian highland bamboo is suitable for industrial panel materials as like medium density fibreboards (MDF), particleboards (PB) oriented strand boards (OSB) and bamboo scrimber. Common bamboo scrimber are highly densified panel materials (> 1,2 g/cm³) which are primarily used in high wear areas such as container flooring, outdoor decking and as flooring materials. Therefore, bamboo is split and mechanically crushed to long fibre strands by profiled feed rollers. The strands are subsequently kiln-dried, thermotreated and dipped into a glue tank (high resin content). Commonly, the strands are then compacted either in a cold press process within a steel mould (block type) or in a hot-press batch process with extremely high pressure (>15 N/mm²).
To overcome those constraints, the strategic alliance “Development of the industrial bamboo sector in Ethiopia” was initiated by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. African Bamboo PLC was created as a spin-off out of a wood-processing furniture company. With the help of our partners a pilot plant was installed in Addis Ababa in 2013. The network project was led by Fraunhofer WKI and combined expertise of glue suppliers, wood-based panel industry, woodworking machinery supplier as well as external research institutions. The unique character of this project is a result of a complex structure of researchers, stakeholders, and industry experts. Hence, the actual innovation in this project is the combination of state-of-the-art technologies in the context of a least developed country. The result is an industrialized bamboo-based panel product for construction.
Objectives and/or research questions
It is aimed to develop a lighter and more resource efficient bamboo scrimber panel based on the African highland bamboo Yushania alpina.
- Analysis of the raw material properties and fluctuation heterogeneous raw materials.
- Adopting Asian process knowledge to existing European processing machinery.
- Investigation of drying and thermal treatment processes on product quality.
- Finding appropriate glue and application method.
- Identification of relevant process steps for enhancing product quality.
- Checking the relevant standards and create appropriate testing programme for market entrance in Europe
- Testing of product quality for outdoor and indoor utilization.
- Comparison of bamboo scrimber to commercially available products from Asia.
In a strategic alliance hosted by develoPPP.de:
- Fraunhofer-Institut für Holzforschung Wilhelm-Klauditz-Institut WKI, Germany
- African Bamboo, Ethiopia
- BigonDry, Italy
- Dynea, Norway;
- Michael Weinig AG, Germany
- Raute, Finland
- Dieffenbacher, Germany
2014 - 2016
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit - GIZ