COP28: Clean cooking for all Africans is possible, say world leaders

Leaders from around the world have declared their commitment to provide clean cooking energy by 2032 to nearly a billion people in Africa who still cook using firewood and other forms of biomass.

The leaders rallied around the African Women Clean Cooking Support Programme (AWCCSP) launched by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania Samia Suluhu Hassan on the sidelines of COP28 in Dubai.

The launch was attended by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of the African Development Bank Group Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, 26 government representatives and international organisations including various UN agencies, and philanthropists.

President Suluhu said 80% of households in sub-Saharan Africa rely on wooden biomass for cooking. 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 that the programme will ensure the long hours they spend fetching firewood, are spent on productive economic activities.

President Suluhu said cooking with wooden biomass accelerates 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.

African Development Bank President Adesina said, “300,000 women and 300,000 children die every year due to respiratory diseases because of simply 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 annually and the health cost for that is estimated at $1.4 trillion annually. “The risk of women dying from a lack of clean cooking solutions is three times higher than the risk of dying from malaria.”

President Suluhu said the private sector had a significant role to play in addressing the problem: “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.”

The Tanzanian leader said the newly launched programme was “not just about stoves and emissions, but to usher a clean and sustainable future.” She announced her country Tanzania will next year host an experts’ meeting to work out effective ways of rolling out the programme across Africa.

President Adesina said: “Africa requires $4 billion a year in investment to provide clean cooking equipment to 250 million women by 2030,” and outlined how sub-Saharan Africa could achieve 100% access to clean cooking solutions.

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

“Second, accessibility and affordability to clean cooking solutions should be assured through the development of liquified 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% from about 50% 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 who pledged support for the programme and said: “It takes women to truly drive these gender-related issues.”

Zimbabwe’s Minister for Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Monica Mutsvangwa, said investing in clean cooking for women is “possible and affordable”.

Dr Jean d’Arc Mujawamariya, Rwandan Minister for the Environment, representing the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, said: “Let us support this noble cause of supporting African women.”

The UN Capital Development Fund Director and Head of Local Transformative Finance, David Jackson praised the African Women Clean Cooking Support Programme (AWCCSP) saying, “This initiative will free up space in the lives of women and girls for them to be able to progress.”

Other speakers included the CEO of the Clean Cooking Alliance, Dymphna van der Lans, the Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa, Sarah Borchers from the World Food Programme, the Executive Director of UN Women Sarah Hendriks, the representative for Bloomberg Energy Transition Initiative for Africa Programme, Jide Ikeako and the Director of ENERGIA Network Sheila Oparocha.

Source: AFDB

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