Dilla Briquette Factory

Dilla Briquette Factory


Biomass briquettes – a block of combustible fuel made from recycled waste products such as coffee husks – offer a clean and affordable source of energy to thousands of people across the Horn of Africa. But without local production, people have been unable to take advantage of the socio-economic and environmental benefits briquettes offer. An initiative led by the Sustainable Energy Program at the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Center & Network (HoA-REC&N) aims to change that.

With a grant from the World Bank sponsored by Denmark, HoA-REC&N has resurrected a briquette-making machine that had been sitting idle for 20 years, and created a briquette manufacturing plant in Ethiopia.

Once finished, the plant will have a manufacturing capacity of 1.5 tonnes of material per hour, and the yearly capacity will range from 1,800 to 5,400 tonnes. The project will distribute briquettes in Dilla and its surroundings, as well as in deforestation-prone zones and fuel scarce areas like Arsi-Negelle in the Central Rift Valley.

History of the project

In 1985, the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) signed a cooperation agreement with the World Bank to implement the ENERGY I project, which incorporated an initiative to install a number of briquetting plants across Ethiopia, including one in Dilla. However, there were some issues experienced with installation of the plants and Dilla briquetting plant was not installed at all, although the construction for the plant was completed and all the machinery and accessory equipment delivered.

Over the last 20 years, Dilla briquette plant has changed hands and remained unused until July 2011.

The emergence of the Dilla Coffee Husk Briquette Project

In July 2010, HoA-REC&N learnt about the existence of the Dilla briquette plant, and discussions began with the Gedeo Development Association (GDA) officials, and a year later, a project to restore the plant started.

Installation of the Dilla plant

  • The installation of the plant started in July 2011 and was completed on the 30 August 2012.
  • The installation included both mechanical and electrical elements which were performed by local (HoA-REC&N own) technicians.
  • The inauguration ceremony took place on September 15, 2012, when it became fully operational.

Project area: Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Regional State (SNNPRS), Gedeo Administration Zone, Dilla City, 361 kilometers south of Addis Ababa.

Partners for the project: Gedeo Administration Zone and Gedeo Development Association. HoA-REC&N was the project developer and financer.

Beneficiaries: The direct project beneficiaries are the members of the Gedeo Development Association. The money generated from the project is used by the Association for infrastructural development for the benefit of the community, including schools, a health post, clean drinking water, roads, etc.

Impacts of the Project

Environmental impacts

  • Waste materials are used to produce useable fuel, and the efficient use of resources is promoted.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane, produced from the decay of the organic materials used to make the briquettes, are avoided.
  • Deforestation is reduced as briquettes offer a substitute for fuel wood and charcoal.
  • Quality of both surface and groundwater is improved by reducing land erosion through decreased deforestation practices.
  • By replacing polluting fossil fuels, environmental quality is improved and the impacts of climate change are reduced.

Socio- Economic impacts

  • Job opportunities are created through plant installation, operation and maintenance.
  • Fuel security is improved, thus increasing social security and the welfare of the local community.
  • The burden of collecting fuel for both women and children is reduced.
  • The health of women and children has been improved through the replacement of polluting fuels with cleaner fuel for cooking.
  • Income is generated for the community from the collection and sale of coffee husks.
  • The currency of fossil fuels such as kerosene is reduced.
  • The industry created from the manufacture of briquettes contributes to the growth of the country’s GDP.
  • Hard currency is generated from carbon financing e.g. as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project, it can generate saleable credits.

Financial impacts

  • As the plant was idle for about 20 years, there was no capital cost. The only cost incurred was for the installation.
  • The feedstock is agro-waste, incurring no, or minimum, costs.

The Dilla briquette plant is a true success story. After staying unused, it is now running smoothly, managed by a team of local technicians trained by HoA-REC&N. It is producing high quality briquettes to substitute fuel wood in the project area and, in doing so, brings about great environmental and socio-economic benefits to the local community and Ethiopia as a whole.




Sustainable Energy Programme Coordinator


+251 (0) 118 951992