This is an interview with Mannie Twea who with his partner Isaiah Billiat have designed a briquette stove called the Thawale cookstove. This interview was conducted in Dedza at their site of operation on 8th December, 2017.
What influenced you to make this stove?
The idea has been to come up with a product that will be an answer to environmental degradation. My friend has a business which makes bricks and pottery. Through this business he was producing cylinders which can hold heat for long periods of time. When I saw these cylinders, I came up with an idea to make our own mbaula (stove) which does not use charcoal or firewood but briquettes. Together, we assembled the stove and we tested it and we saw that it was working.
What is the Cylinder made of?
It is made of clay and a bit of saw-dust
What was the cylinder used for before you made the stoves?
A certain individual in Lilongwe used to purchase who used to come and purchase the cylinders. It was from these cylinders that we decided to make our own stoves
Why was this individual buying these cylinders from you?
He also was making stoves but the mbaula we made is different to what he makes
How efficient are these cylinders?
When you use 3 briquettes, they can last for up to 3 hours. Approximately per day, this mbaula can you use 6 to 8 briquettes.
How many stoves have you made so far?
So far we only made 2. We have tested both and now the idea is that we should raise capital and have money so that we have our own machine to make briquettes so that when we roll out to markets, we should also be able to provide briquettes. However, for now, when we have the stove in production we can also link our customers to people who make briquettes in Lilongwe. However the plan is that we should make our own briquettes and in Dedza we will use saw-dust while in Zomba rice husks. In Chikwawa and Dwangwa we will make briquettes using sugarcane residues.
What is the plan to start mass production of this stove?
The plan is to raise capital and that is why you have seen us moulding cement blocks. You can also see all this pottery around. We already have identified the suppliers for briquette making machines and we have done all the costing…we are just waiting to raise money to import the machine and once we get the machine, we will be able roll-out the project.
Which country are you buying this machine from?
Does the stove have any name?
It is called the Thawale cookstove made by Thawale Investments
Another strategy is that once we raise funds, we plan to take this stove to district hospitals and central hospitals because I conducted research which shows that guardians at hospital spend not less than 500 kwacha per day on fuel. This stove can cost around K420, even with the briquettes that we are buying from Lilongwe. A proposal was also written to a certain organisation to partner with us on this project but we are still waiting for feedback. We are also looking to partner with organisations who can purchase these stoves for distribution or sell them at a subsidised price to people who use charcoal in semi-urban areas. Our findings
So the target is not the rural area?
We are not targeting the rural area because of the cost involved in making this stove. Due to these costs we will sell the stove at a price which might be slightly expensive for the rural area. However, if we were able to partner with organisations, we would be able to take this stove to rural areas to sell for a subsidised price.