Samia champions clean cooking energy initiative in Africa

TANZANIA: THE global clean cooking energy campaign received a massive boost at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in November of last year with the launch of the African Women Clean Cooking Support Programme (AWCCSP).

The groundbreaking initiative, championed by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, was launched on the sidelines of the conference and aims to provide clean cooking technologies to women and girls in Africa to reduce the use of wood, charcoal, and other traditional forms of biomass.

In Africa, almost 80 per cent of the population uses wood and charcoal for cooking, the leading cause of indoor pollution which has devastating effects on the health of women and children.

President Samia rallied fellow African leaders and representatives to accelerate clean cooking solutions in the region and help transition some 900 million Africans from biomass fuels to more affordable and environmentally friendly options over the next couple of years.

Promoting clean cooking energy solutions will help prevent the deaths of millions of women and children, foster social stability, and unlock significant labor market productivity, she said. “Women and girls are disproportionately affected when there is no access to clean cooking solutions.

Exposure to toxic fumes affects their health and wellbeing, and the programme will ensure that the long hours they spend fetching firewood are spent on productive economic activities,” she said.

President Samia explained the environmental impact due to the growing use of wood and charcoal for cooking, noting the most commonly cited impact is deforestation.

“This has led to the loss of 3.9 million hectares of forest between 2010 and 2020 in Africa,” she said and pointed out that while access to clean cooking had increased across the world, in Africa, it is the use of wooden biomass that is growing.

President Samia said the private sector had a significant role to play in promoting clean cooking energy solutions.

“We call on the private sector to establish a commercial supply chain for clean cooking alternatives, including improved stoves and facilitating access to electricity in rural areas.”

She said the newly launched programme was “not just about stoves and emissions, but to usher in a clean and sustainable future.”

Global leaders at the conference rallied around the programme and committed to providing clean cooking energy by 2032 to nearly a billion people in Africa who still cook using firewood and other forms of biomass.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said, “300,000 women and 300,000 children die every year due to respiratory diseases simply by trying to cook a meal what is taken for granted in developed economies.”

Adesina said the global economic cost of women’s hours spent fetching firewood is estimated at 800 billion US dollars annually and the health cost for that is estimated at 1.4 trillion US dollars annually.

“The risk of women dying from a lack of clean cooking solutions is three times higher than the risk of dying from malaria,” he said.

“Africa requires 4 billion US dollars a year in investment to provide clean cooking equipment to 250 million women by 2030,” he said and outlined how sub-Saharan Africa could achieve 100 per cent access to clean cooking solutions.

“This requires that governments direct at least 5 per cent of the current 70 billion US dollars energy investments annually into the provision of clean cooking solutions. That would provide close to the required 4 billion US dollars annually. This is not too much to ask.”

“Second, accessibility and affordability to clean cooking solutions should be assured through the development of liquefied petroleum gas upstream capacity, especially for production, storage, and distribution infrastructure.”

“Third, multilateral finance institutions should set aside a significant share of their annual energy financing specifically for providing clean cooking solutions at scale.

This should include concessional blended financing, as well as guarantees to de-risk lending by commercial banks and other financial institutions,” said Adesina.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa described his country’s experience in transitioning rural communities from firewood and cow dung to coal-generated electricity and now to renewable energy “on an equitable basis.

”He said even though access to electricity had increased to 93 per cent from about 50 per cent over the past nearly 30 years, the electricity was generated from coal, a fossil fuel.

“We are beginning the transit route to cleaner energy. It is a necessary journey that addresses gender equality and poverty.”

Norwegian Minister for International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim pledged support for the program and said: “It takes women to truly drive these gender-related issues.”

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