Forests including forest industries serve as an engine of growth that propels economic activities especially for a nation that is endowed with abundant forest resources. Forestry Outlook Study for Africa (FOSA) is an initiative led by FAO and carried out in partnership with all African nations, the African Development Bank, the European Commission, regional and sub- regional inter-governmental organizations, the World Bank and others.
It is a process for analyzing the future potential of the forestry sector to contribute to the well-being of African citizens through its economic, social and environmental functions.
FOSA will analyze the status, trends and driving forces shaping African Forestry, provide a region-wide vision of the sector to the year 2020 and identify policies, programmes and investment options that will help move the sector forward.
The formal sector is essentially wood based and is fairly well developed and comprise mechanical wood industries, including sawmills, veneer and plywood manufactures, particle board, paper and paper board manufactures. Furniture manufacturing is also carried out at a secondary level.
Wood Based Panels
There are eight veneer and plywood plants in the country using approximately 170,000 m3 of logs per annum. Veneer slicing operations are all integrated within plywood mills.
Plywood requirements for the country were estimated at 179,000 m3 in 1990 and this was expected to increase to 285,000 m3 in 2000 and 450,000 m3 in 2010.
At the same time wood availability is expected to decrease from 170,000 m3 in 1990 to an expected 119,000 m3 in 2010. It is evident that demand for veneer logs outstrips supply.
The total capacity of eight mills is 126,000 m3/year and capacity utilization by 1993 was 57.3%. Veneer mills are already experiencing difficulties in acquiring log supplies.
Particle board requirements for the country are estimated at 108,000 m3 in 1990, 199,000 m3 in 2000.
Current production is hampered by high cost of foreign exchange for new equipment, spare parts and glue acquisition.
The furniture industry is strategic in the use of planks from the saw mills. It forms the major market for wood products and protects the continued existence of primary wood industries such as sawmills and ply mills.
More than 400 furniture companies of various sizes exist in the country. The shortfall in large furniture companies is made up by the numerous cottage and small scale furniture makers which numbers more than 10,000 outlets.
This category of furniture makers usually operate in the informal sector and are found in the rural and urban areas where middle and low income earners reside.
Wooden furniture parts and components are now being manufactured and exported by a few large companies.
Wooden furniture represents the major market for wood products. Many of the industries suffer from high cost of production due to energy cost and lack of patronage.
Forestry sector provides employment opportunities for thousands of people. These include management staff, the labour forces in all forest based industries.
About 80% of the rural population of people is engaged in agro-forestry and other agro-allied activities. Forestry industries have unique and present rare opportunities for populace if adequate attention is given to this sector.
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