With national debates focused on national grids, electricity generation and the mix of fuels used in power generation, insufficient attention has been paid to one of Africa’s greatest energy challenges: the use of biofuels by households.
Access to clean cooking facilities is even more restricted than access to electricity. Over 700 million people in Africa are still without clean cooking stoves. Each year 600,000 die per household air pollution.
On current trends, it will take Africa until 2080 to achieve universal access to electricity. Universal access to clean cooking facilities would occur around 100 years later, sometime after the middle of the 22nd century.
This is unacceptable. Our campaign “Clean our Air.Fuel the Future with Clean Cookstoves” raises awareness about the clean cooking solutions imperative in Africa. The Africa Progress Report 2015—Power, People, Planet: seizing Africa’s climate and energy opportunities— calls on governments to develop integrated strategies for tackling unsafe cooking practices.
The starting point is to recognize the value of biomass energy and end the underpricing of charcoal and fuel-wood. As in the case of renewable-energy technologies, governments should support consumer demand for clean cooking stoves by exempting imported components from taxes and duties, and by subsidizing research and development, manufacture and distribution.
Specific government agencies should be given responsibility for supporting producers of clean cooking-stoves through revolving equity and credit funds where appropriate.