Charcoal in West Africa 
Mountains of charcoal confiscated from illegal charcoal laborers in Eastern Senegal
Issues and numbers in the economically-important charcaol industry
LINK TO TABLES AND DETAILS ON CONVERSION FACTORS AND STATISTICS

               
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ASSOCIATED WITH CHARCOAL VOLUMES, GROWTH, TRANSPORT, AND ECONOMICS IN WEST AFRICA
A unit of volume used to describe charcoal for transport is a "quintaux".  A quintaux  is supposed to equal 100 kg of charcoal; it traditionally was accounted as the volume to fill two 50-kg grain bags for the convenience of transporters, foresters, and laborers.  (See link to document with table of conversions.)  Changing the real volume in the sacks by over-stuffing them and attaching height extensions allows for favors to be granted to actors in the market chain, or makes the sacks more attractive to potential buyers.
In general, it is more efficient to transport lighter-weight charcoal over long distances than green or dry firewood. With a 28% thermal energy, the value of charcoal equals the price of its transport by an old inefficient truck at a distance of 1000 km (Keita, J.D. document).  Green wood contains 280 Kcal of useable energy per kg, and charcoal contains 420 Kcal.
SOME FACTS ABOUT CHARCOAL
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Traditional charcoal production involves stacking and burning wood (almost 30 tonnes of green wood) in huge piles ("kilns") that produce a truckload at a time (300 sacks or 150 quintaux).  In principle, an improved-efficiency "Casamance kiln" (which requires wood to be stacked in a precise configuration and uses a welded-barrel chimney that produces creosote as a marketable by-product) can almost double the usable energy available in the same volume of wood.
Dakar, with its several millions in population and a competing bottled gas market for cooking, required 300,000 tonnes of charcoal in 2005.   This was the equivalent of 3 million quintaux or about 20,000 truckloads.  In 2008, the cost of a kg of charcoal to the home user is 125 fCFA ($0.30).  This makes the "street value" of each tonne equal to $US 300.
Species preferred for producing charcoal are those which produce less smoke and sparks. In West Africa, this usually means members of the Combretum family: C. glutinosum, C. nigricans, C. micranthum, and Guiera senegalensis especially.  These are usually multi-stemmed, will produce good charcoal when 10 or more cm in diameter, and will regenerate to their original size after 6 to 20 years depending on protection and rainfall.  In places where other species are more abundant, other hard and dense species are used, such as Pterocarpus.
Rings say this tree was about 14 years old when it was cut.
Within 2 years, this Combretum glutinosum has re-sprouted from the stump in multiple stems that could be thinned to favor 3 of them to grow faster
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