Since our country house in Golling, south of Salzburg, has a nice pellet stove and there is plenty of wood waste in Gabon, I decided to look into the possibility of pellet production in Central Africa. This became Congo Basin Pellets a few years later; the first company to successfully produce wood pellets from African wood waste.
Chris Fodor, Founder Congo Basin Pellets
In 2019, as his professional project for the Austrian Development Agency was coming to an end, Chris Fodor got the chance to analyze the potential for wood pellets in Central Africa. Since the demand for environmentally friendly and at the same time efficient heating fuels is constantly increasing, the entrepreneur, who has experience in Africa, has set himself the goal of converting the wood waste in Central Africa into pellets and briquettes of the best quality.
In March 2020, Congo Basin Pellets GmbH was founded. Later, the first investments came from the founder's savings.
A small factory was set up to initially produce 30,000 tons of pellets in Gabon and then expand from there. Despite the situation shaped by Covid, it was possible to place high-quality wood pellets on the European market within two years.
Although the first wood pellets were produced in 2020, the first long-term production took place in early 2022 when the best combination of 50% softwood (Okoume) and 50% hardwood (Azobe, Padouk, Belinga) was discovered. The wood waste comes from the 55 wood processing plants (sawmills, veneer mills) in the Nkok Special Economic Zone.
Crowdinvesting will allow the company to adapt the pellet presses to the sawdust mix and introduce another production line for briquettes.
The Gabonese factory in the city of Nkok has a unique and very favorable cost element:
All in all, the pellets produced in Nkok cost about 74 euros/ton when delivered to the port of Libreville. The market price in February 2022 was between 300 and 375 euros/ton (delivered to European “ARA” ports).
The finished biomass products will initially be exported by container and from 2023 by Handysize ship.
The pellets were tested in Vienna and classified as high quality (ENPlus Class A1). The energy yield is even 10% higher than with conventional European pellets.
Sustainable wood supply
Congo Basin Pellets only uses wood waste and absolutely no raw wood. All wood waste processed at the Nkok production facility comes from logs certified by Tracer (monitoring body). In addition, part of this wood waste comes from FSC-certified (chain of custody) wood processing companies within the GSEZ – Gabon Special Economic Zone. This type of wood waste is therefore “double” certified.
Quality and social commitment
From the very beginning, the company has built a factory in which many motivated people find a perspective. In 2023, around 70 Ganunese employees are expected to generate a regular income from Congo Basin Pellets. In addition, there are numerous positions for specialized workers such as welders, electricians, mechanics, truck drivers, day laborers, etc. The long-term goal is to qualify some key workers so highly that they can manufacture plant parts for other production sites themselves - without having to rely on imported plants from Asia .
Additional production line for briquettes
The company will already be launching a new product line in this way to turn the abundant and difficult-to-process hardwood waste into briquettes as well. The briquettes are high-density rolls about 8 cm in diameter and about 30 cm long, each weighing about 2 kg. Briquettes can be used for heating private households as well as industrially.
Founder and CEO
Pape Mahomed Cissoko