KOKO Aims to Replace Charcoal in $47 Billion Cooking Fuel Market

(Bloomberg) -- KOKO Networks, a startup targeting sub-Saharan Africa’s $47 billion cooking-fuel market, plans to expand its ethanol stove manufacturing capacity 10-fold and then grow globally.

The company manufactures its stoves in India and sells them, as well as the fuel they use, in Kenya. KOKO plans to scale up the use of ethanol fuel -- in Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America -- as an alternative to charcoal, which can cause respiratory disease.

KOKO fuel is “40% cheaper than charcoal,” the company’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Greg Murray, said in an interview. “We are massively undercutting charcoal while delivering a major quality of life-improvement.”

Charcoal production is the leading driver of deforestation in Africa and endangers the estimated 850 million to 900 million people who use solid fuels, including charcoal and firewood, for cooking on the continent. It’s blamed for shortening the lives of more than half a million Africans every year, according to the World Bank.