CLEAN COOKING SUMMIT: Tanzania reaps big

DAR ES SALAAM: TANZANIA has secured 3.4 million British pounds (approximately 11.16bn/-) from the United Kingdom to support its National Clean Cooking Strategy (2024–2034).

This significant funding was announced by the Minister of State for the Office of the Vice-President (Union and Environment), Selemani Jafo, during a press briefing at the State House in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

The funds, part of a broader commitment made at the recently concluded Summit on Clean Cooking in Africa, are designated to aid the implementation of Tanzania’s strategy by providing people with clean cooking solutions.

The strategy requires a total of 1.8 billion US dollars (4.6tri/-) over the next decade to achieve its objectives.

Dr Jafo highlighted the summit’s success, noting that it achieved its goal of raising funds to support clean cooking initiatives across Africa, with total pledges amounting to 2.2 billion US dollars (5.7tri/).

“Besides that, the UK pledged 3.4 million pounds to support Tanzania in accessing innovative clean cooking solutions,” he added.

The clean cooking agenda in Tanzania began in 2022 and gained significant momentum last year when President Samia Suluhu Hassan launched the African Women’s Clean Cooking Support Programme at COP28. The initiative positions clean cooking as a pan-African priority.

“The first step as a nation was to establish a strategy launched on May 8 this year. It clearly defines the roles and responsibilities required to achieve this agenda,” Minister Jafo explained.

The summit, held on May 14, was co-chaired by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina and International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Dr Fatih Birol.

Dr Jafo emphasised the importance of education in promoting clean energy for cooking, structured around four pillars: availability, accessibility, affordability, and community awareness.

He further said the government plans to use media and sectoral ministries to disseminate information and lead these efforts.

Deputy Minister for Energy, Judith Kapinga, highlighted the summit’s unique spirit and renewed energy towards the agenda in the African continent.

She noted that the government is already addressing the high initial gas usage costs through subsidies for gas cylinders provided by the Rural Energy Agency (REA).

“We are working to reduce costs by improving clean energy infrastructure for cooking,” she said.

Ms Kapinga acknowledged the challenge posed by the initial cost of gas equipment, which can be prohibitive for many Tanzanians.

“To address this, the government is providing subsidised cylinders to help mitigate the initial investment required to start using gas,” she explained.

In addition to subsidies, she said the government is focused on enhancing various clean cooking technologies to make them more accessible.

Clean cooking encompasses energy sources and efficient technologies that produce low-toxicity smoke, reducing environmental and health impacts, expounded the Director of Presidential Communication, Ms Zuhura Yunus.

Clean energy sources include alternative charcoal, bioethanol, LPG, natural gas, biogas, electricity, and solar stoves.

The financial support from the summit contributes to the IEA’s estimated 4 billion US dollar annual investment needed to achieve universal access to clean cooking in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030.

Head of Business Development and Growth at M-Gas Limited, Mr Abdallah Kijangwa, shed lights on their innovative Pay-As-You-Go model, which makes LPG cooking more accessible for urban households.

“Circle gas uses its logistics network to install LPG cooking equipment in low-income urban households. Our smart meter allows customers to pay for gas on a meal-by-meal basis using mobile money, with no upfront costs,” he said.

Addressing the Summit on Clean Cooking in Africa, President Samia called for a generous replenishment of the African Development Fund that includes 12 billion US dollars for clean cooking to unlock financing for achieving the ambitious goal of clean cooking for all by 2030.

“Insufficient funding and a lack of awareness about the economic opportunities within the clean cooking industry hamper efforts to scale interventions. Moreover, development of the needed solutions is limited by insufficient research and innovation,” she told delegates at the summit held at UNESCO headquarters in the French capital, Paris.

“Over 900 million Africans rely on unclean cooking solutions, a fact which contributes to environmental degradation, biodiversity loss and related health hazards,” she added, noting that increased access to clean cooking energy will help women participate in other economic activities, reduce poverty, and promote gender equality.

She stated that clean cooking access rates globally currently range from over 60 per cent in Central and Southern Asia to over 80 per cent in Eastern Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, while Africa, the continent with the highest population growth rates, and with all necessary natural resources, ranks the least in access to clean cooking.

According to President Samia, three major challenges facing clean cooking in Africa, including the lack of access to adequate, affordable and sustainable solutions, lack of global attention to the problem, and the absence of smart partnerships to ensure clean cooking access for all.

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