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Milestones in the clean cooking sector

Cleaner, more modern stoves and fuels have the potential to reduce deaths from smoke-related illnesses and lower air pollution

BY DAVID NJUGI CEO, CLEAN COOKING ASSOCIATION OF KENYA

The Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA) estimates that globally, fourbillion people cook using polluting open fires and inefficient stoves. At the same time, the World Health Organisation reports that at least four million deaths occur worldwide annually due to Household Air Pollution, which arises from cooking with these traditional cooking forms.

Cleaner, more modern stoves and fuels have the potential to reduce deaths from smoke-related illnesses and lower air pollution, further contributing to climate change mitigation. A study by the Clean

Cooking Association of Kenya (CCAK), in collaboration with the Kenya Ministry of Energy, shows that Kenya has over 30 years of experience with improved biomass cookstoves and is a leader in sub-Saharan Africa in developing and distributing improved cookstoves. However, the country still struggles to achieve large-scale market transformation in terms of innovation, commercialisation, and end-user access to quality and affordable stoves.

Some of the contributing factors include the lack of an enabling environment, such as the introduction of tax on technologies and fuels, limited research and innovation to improve production processes and product design to suit changing consumer needs, lack of essential business experience to attract finance and scale up production, inadequate awareness on clean cooking solutions by both the supply and demand sides, and insufficient coordination within the private and government sectors.

CCAK, with support from development partners, provides strategic guidance and coordination to the clean cooking sector while focusing on awareness creation and advocacy in favorable policy intervention to trigger private sector investments in affordable clean cooking solutions. Among the activities undertaken so far is the sector advocacy for fiscal incentive, development of standards and regulations for the cooking sector, and evidence generation to inform key policy, market, and awareness actions.

Accelerating growth of the Sector

To promote the clean cooking sector’s growth, the Ministry of Energy, in collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), has received funding from the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The funds will support the professionalisation of Improved Cookstoves Solutions (ICS) production and trigger an irreversible market transformation, which will significantly increase ICS production and sales, a target of 1.57 mln ICS by the project end and a cumulative sales of 12.9 mln ICS by 2030.

The project will support transforming the ICS sector from one characterised by ODA-dependent artisanal, under-capitalised, and informal SMEs into a much stronger formal economic sector. Some of the advantages of this include better technological basis, more substantial formal economic business management capacities, access to financial markets, and the ability to secure the investment needed to accelerate growth and sustain a high level of ICS sales.

As a result, the transformed ICS sectors will have the ability to deliver better quality products to a broader range of consumers, particularly in rural areas, and provide services to vulnerable population groups.

On the market demand side, the project will create awareness and readiness for ICS adoption among hundreds of thousands of new customers. About eight million people in the ICS value chain will benefit from this project.

Fiscal Incentives

As part of its efforts to create an enabling environment for the clean cooking sector’s growth, the government has previously provided tax incentives such as VAT zero-rating and exemption and tax removal for inputs to manufacture clean cooking stoves. It reintroduced VAT on clean cooking technologies through the Finance Act 2020, including ICS (Improved Cookstove Solutions), Biogas, and LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas).

However, the frequent policy changes do not auger well with investors as they stall or reverse the gains made in promoting clean cooking. With the increase in taxes on clean cooking stoves, the government might not rake in much revenue, considering it is a relatively small sector. Instead, the State should support its growth and, in turn, save on cash used in treating Kenyans who end up suffering from respiratory complications resulting from the use of dirty fuels in their kitchens.

Regulatory Frameworks and Standardisation

Standards and regulations play a crucial role in influencing a shift to cleaner fuels and technologies adoption in the country by ensuring quality of production and operations. CCAK has supported and led in the development of sector regulations, standards and policies, enhancing the credibility, safety, and authenticity of the clean cooking solutions adopted in the country.

Through its sector pillar working groups, CCAK organises discussions with the national government through state agencies, including KEBS, KIRDI, and EPRA, and participates in the pillar working group meetings to ensure the adoption of effective and conducive sector regulations and standards.

To disseminate further and enforce the already approved standards and regulations, CCAK has developed a clean cooking sector Standards Quick Guide, a booklet comprising three approved cooking sector standards: Biomass Cookstoves Standards, Ethanol Fueled Appliances, and Technical Denatured Alcohol.

The Economic Impact of Clean Cooking

The Kenya clean cooking sector provides about 19,000 direct formal jobs and potentially 15,000 to 35,000 direct, informal jobs. A recent study carried out in 2019 by Dalberg on the Ethanol Cooking Fuel Masterplan shows that the adoption of ethanol for cooking can contribute to up to 370,000 jobs, with the majority in feedstock production (i.e., sugarcane and cassava value chains). It can also contribute to new income generated of up to Ksh51 billion, with additional earnings of up to Ksh180,000 per year for smallholder farmers. The same applies to other fuels, such as LPG and Biomass.

With the right policy and regulatory support, such as a zero-rating of the clean cooking technologies, allocation of budget to the clean cooking sector, and removal of import duties on clean cooking technology products, the clean cooking sector can trigger an accelerated development of the industry. The benefits of having the right policy and regulatory support do not end here, as it goes further to enhance demand and create more job opportunities.

While the studies suggest that 46 percent of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) in the country close down in their first year of operation due to competition, it is crucial to ensure that small businesses are sustainable in their daily operations. If provided with the right support from private players and government, such firms’ existence can be guaranteed.

COVID-19 Impacts

While the clean cooking sector has historically been underfunded, receiving less than one percent of the estimated finance needed to reach universal clean cooking access by 2030, COVID-19 has probably exacerbated this challenge by further deterring private investors.

According to a survey by the CCA, most investors reported being less likely to invest in clean cooking than before the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, it established that close to two-thirds of enterprises are now facing moderate to severe disruptions, with 30 percent of these having to cease all operations.

The study showed that fewer than 10 percent of enterprises had the financial capacity to withstand more than five months of COVID-19 impacts, and 44 percent needed relief funds.

Conclusion

In as much as the clean cooking sector is still NGO and Donor-Driven, community involvement through public participation is crucial to the energy evolution and future sustainability. Civil society organisations (CSOs) such as CCAK play a vital role in linking international, national, and local stakeholders and ensuring communities are part of the change process by developing and implementing the policies and regulations.

There is a need to sustain the progress made and accelerate growth in the clean cooking sector for Kenya to achieve the universal energy access target by 2022 and the 100 percent adoption of clean cooking solutions by 2028. Although ambitious, there is momentum which can be acerated through favorable fiscal incentives, awareness creation, financial support, and engagement with the sector stakeholders.


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