Kenya’s 18-month-long ban on logging has closed businesses and caused a rise in both unemployment and construction costs, a senator has claimed.
To show that the ban was doing more harm than good, Kihika gave statistics on forestry’s importance to the economy.
“We cannot ignore the fact that the forestry sector contributes 3.6% of the national gross domestic product and 60% of the national energy requirements are met from wood fuel,” Kihika told Kenya’s senate in July 2019.
It is a contested issue. Some senators disagreed with her, urging that the ban be extended for years.
But do her statistics check out?
The taskforce report, prepared by the environment ministry, did find that Kenya’s forestry sector accounted for 3.6% of gross domestic product.
It gave the 2014 FAO report as its source, but said the UN agency’s estimate “excludes forestry’s contribution to household wood energy, non-timber products and the vast value of ecosystem services”.
But the FAO report estimated that the formal forestry sector made up 1.2% of GDP in 2011, from wages, profits and timber. When the informal sector such as woodfuel and charcoal was counted, forestry’s contribution rose to 3% – still lower than the taskforce’s estimate of 3.6%.
Official figure undervalues forestry?
Africa Check asked the forest service how they arrived at the 3.6% figure. Leakey Sonkoyo, the agency’s spokesperson, told us it was from a joint 2012 report by UN Environment, the forestry service, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and the water and irrigation ministry.
The report said the official figure, which put forestry’s GDP contribution at 1.1%, was a “gross underestimate”. This was by “at least 2.5%, which puts the estimate of its annual contribution to GDP to around 3.6%”.
Samuel Muriithi, the agency’s head of forest economics, told Africa Check the official estimate had left out important contributions, such as the value manufacturing added to forest products.
Different statistics unexplained
But the difference remains in other official statistics. The national data agency’s economic survey 2019 estimated that forestry and logging contributed 1.3% to GDP in 2018. It has maintained a steady average of 1.3% from 2014 to 2018, even as its value at real prices rose from KSh42.9 billion in 2014 to KSh49.9 billion in 2018.
We have asked the two state agencies to explain the difference. Until we get this clarification we will rate the senator’s claim as unproven.
Kihika told Africa Check the 60% figure came from a 2015 Kenya Forest Service report. We have, however, been unable to trace this report.
Kenya gets its energy from electricity, petroleum and oil products, and from biomass, which includes charcoal, wood fuel, ethanol, biodiesel and agricultural waste. Energy is measured in joules. A terajoule is a trillion joules.
The most recent economic survey shows demand in 2018.
|Kenya’s national energy demand in 2018|
|Energy source||Demand in terajoules||% share of total|
|Petroleum and petroleum products||21,825.9||8.9|
|Waste or scraps||25,879.2||10.5|
Source: Economic Survey 2019
Wood fuel’s share of 63% is in fact slightly higher than the senator’s figure of 60%. We therefore rate this claim as correct.
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