Ethiopia needs to exploit her untapped bamboo resources

The author of this article has earlier written a contribution regarding the state of indigenous technologies in Ethiopia. This particular article refers to one of these technologies focusing on bamboo technology.

Several countries widely use bamboo technology in various applications. Among them, China has a long history of using bamboo in construction, furniture and other applications. They have developed advanced techniques for bamboo processing and have incorporated them into modern architecture and design.

Bamboo is widely used in Indonesia for construction, furniture, handicrafts and even as a sustainable alternative to plastic. The country has a rich tradition of bamboo craftsmanship and has been promoting its use in various industries.

Colombia has been using bamboo for construction purposes for many years. The country has developed innovative techniques for building houses, bridges, and other structures using bamboo. They have also established bamboo plantations to ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials.

Bamboo is an integral part of Vietnamese culture and is widely used in construction, furniture, and handicrafts. The country has been promoting bamboo as a sustainable and eco-friendly material and has invested in research and development to improve its quality and durability.

Bamboo is extensively used in Ecuador for construction, furniture, and even as a source of renewable energy. The country has been actively promoting bamboo as a sustainable alternative to traditional building materials and has established bamboo plantations for commercial production.

In India, bamboo is widely used for construction, furniture, handicrafts, and even as a source of renewable energy. The country has a rich tradition of bamboo craftsmanship and has been promoting its use in various industries.

Costa Rica has been using bamboo for construction purposes for many years. The country has developed innovative techniques for building houses, bridges, and other structures using bamboo. They have also established bamboo plantations to ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials.

Technologies on bamboo refer to the use of bamboo as a sustainable and versatile material in various industries and applications across the world. Examples of bamboo technology in the world include various sectors.

Bamboo is used as a building material in many parts of the world. It is lightweight, strong, and flexible, making it suitable for constructing houses, bridges, and other structures. Bamboo-based composites are also used for flooring, roofing, and wall panels.

Moreover, bamboo is widely used in the production of furniture, including chairs, tables, and shelves. Its natural beauty and durability make it a popular choice for interior design elements such as flooring, wall coverings, and decorative items.

Among other things, bamboo fibres are used to create soft and breathable fabrics. Bamboo clothing is known for its comfort, moisture-wicking properties, and antibacterial qualities. It is also used in the production of towels, bed sheets, and other textiles.

Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that can be used as a renewable source of energy. It can be converted into biofuels, such as charcoal and ethanol, which can be used for cooking, heating, and electricity generation.

It is also used in agricultural practices, such as erosion control, and water purification, and as a source of organic fertilizer. It is also used in horticulture for landscaping, as a windbreak, and for creating privacy screens.

Bamboo is used in water management systems, such as wastewater treatment and rainwater harvesting. Its high absorption capacity and filtration properties make it effective in purifying water and preventing soil erosion.

It is used in the production of bicycles, boats, and other forms of transportation. Its strength-to-weight ratio makes it an ideal material for lightweight and eco-friendly vehicles.

Bamboo fibres are used in the production of paper and packaging materials. Bamboo paper is known for its strength, durability, and eco-friendliness compared to traditional wood-based paper.

Extracts from bamboo and derivatives are used in traditional medicine for various purposes, including wound healing, pain relief, and as an anti-inflammatory agent. Bamboo charcoal is also used in skincare products for its detoxifying properties.

Bamboo plays a crucial role in environmental conservation by reducing deforestation and promoting biodiversity. Its extensive root system helps prevent soil erosion, and its fast growth rate makes it an excellent carbon sink.

Overall, bamboo technology offers sustainable and innovative solutions across various industries, promoting environmental conservation and supporting local economies.

Bamboo technology in Ethiopia is slowly gaining popularity as a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative to traditional construction materials. Bamboo is a fast-growing plant that can be harvested within a few years, making it a renewable resource. It is also known for its strength and durability, making it suitable for various construction purposes.

In Ethiopia, bamboo is being used for a range of applications, including housing, furniture, and handicrafts. The Ethiopian government has recognized the potential of bamboo and has been promoting its use in construction projects. The Ethiopian Bamboo Development Agency (EBDA) was established in 2012 to promote the sustainable development of bamboo resources in the country.

One notable example of bamboo technology in Ethiopia is the Addis Ababa Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. The LRT stations were constructed using bamboo as a primary building material. Bamboo was chosen for its strength, flexibility, and aesthetic appeal. The use of bamboo in the LRT stations not only reduced the project’s environmental impact but also provided employment opportunities for local communities involved in bamboo cultivation and processing.

Bamboo technology is also being utilized in the construction of affordable housing in Ethiopia. Bamboo houses are being built as a cost-effective and sustainable solution to the country’s housing shortage. These houses are not only affordable but also provide a comfortable living environment, as bamboo has natural insulation properties.

Furthermore, bamboo technology is being used in the production of furniture and handicrafts in Ethiopia. Bamboo furniture is gaining popularity due to its durability, lightweight, and aesthetic appeal. Local artisans are also using bamboo to create various handicrafts, such as baskets, mats, and decorative items.

Overall, bamboo technology in Ethiopia can contribute to sustainable development, creating employment opportunities, and promoting eco-friendly construction practices. The government’s support and initiatives, along with the growing awareness of bamboo’s benefits, are expected to further drive the adoption of bamboo technology in the country.

Despite the abundant bamboo resources in the country, Ethiopia has not been able to effectively utilize her bamboo natural endowments.

Ethiopia owns 67 per cent of bamboo groves in Sub-Sahara Africa with a potential of commercially untapped one million hectares of land. Two of the bamboo varieties are indigenous to Ethiopia and are highly demanded at world markets.

According to nationwide research conducted by the Ethiopian Forest and Climate Change Commission, bamboo, also known as the “green gold of Ethiopia” contributes Birr 56,250,000 to the country’s GDP annually engaging well over 750,000 farmers in the sector.

According to the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR), the potential revenue and employment from bamboo for Ethiopia is immense: potentially three million hectares of plantations, five billion dollars in revenue and 1.3 million jobs.

Bamboo could play an important role not only in the overall economic development of the country but could also contribute to sustainable land management and livelihood improvement for those engaged in the sector. Bamboo matures in 3 years of plantation while lumber trees can take up to 30 years to mature. It is a substitute for lumber in the pulp industry, furniture and for import substitution in paper industries.

Furthermore, bamboo could immensely contribute to controlling soil and land degradation while also contributing to the replacement of timber. In addition, bamboo converts 35% more carbon dioxide into oxygen than a regular tree. In this context, bamboo helps to stimulate economic development while achieving climate change mitigation goals.

Traditional skills in bamboo production are mostly restricted to utilizing bamboo for house construction, fencing and building traditional household grain silos, the Federal Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency in cooperation with INBAR (International Bamboo and Rattan Organization) has been training individuals who have been working on traditional bamboo furniture with the objective of technological transfer to transform traditional production to modern industry.

Only a few factories engaged in industrial production of bamboo products are gradually developing in the country. Addisu, Owner of S.A Bamboo Works plc says that his factory has already started to export some bamboo products to some European countries. The factory produces bamboo floor tiles, carpers and curtains, various 8 types of furniture and sticks for incense producers and toothpicks.

As part of the national effort to enhance the development of bamboo technology in Ethiopia, the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Commission came up with a new strategic document entitled “Ethiopian Bamboo Development Strategy which will be operational from 2019 to 2030 for a period of ten years.

According to data the author has received from the Ethiopian Investment Commission, out of 16 investment ventures licensed by the Investment Commission only one has been fully operational while a number of them are yet engaged in bamboo plantation development. However, 4 local developers are already engaged in producing some types of bamboo products at the factory level.

Ethiopia hosts the East African regional office of International Bamboo and Rattan. INBAR is a multi-lateral development organization that promotes environmentally sustainable development using bamboo and rattan. The organization is engaged in building the capacity of countries in modern bamboo management practices, promoting bamboo nurseries and training farmers in income-generating schemes based on bamboo technology.

Bamboo technology is yet to develop in Ethiopia. Over the next 10 years, the country is expected to generate foreign currency from the sector. Two Chinese companies have concluded a deal with the Ethiopian government to invest a total of $2 billion to process Ethiopia’s bamboo and produce paper products for both local and export markets.


The Ethiopian Herald May 12/2024

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