Modern energy cooking services key for Tanzania in achieving SDGs, UN

08Sep 2020
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Modern energy cooking services key for Tanzania in achieving SDGs, UN

MODERN energy cooking services are crucial to human well-being and to Tanzania’s economic development. Cooking remains a central part of energy transition and core to the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goal 7 and the Paris Agreement.

In Tanzania over 55 million people are without clean cooking services., that is more than 85 percent of the population still depend on solid biomass fuels for cooking with 63.5 percent of households using firewood, followed by charcoal users 26.2 percent, Only 5.1 percent  use LPG and 3 percent  uses electricity, according to REA and  NBS.

Most of the biomass fuels is being burned in inefficient three stone fire place in rural areas and in metal charcoal stoves in urban areas, which in turn affects health and wellbeing of the population through indoor air pollution.

The situation also contributes to the fast deterioration of forestry at the rate of 372,871 hectares per year according to statistics released in 2015 by TFS. Transforming cooking energy services for Tanzania is therefore critical to the development of the country and a strategic measure for achieving several SDGs and SE4ALL targets

 International initiative on modern energy cooking services

In an interview with Executive Director for Tanzania Traditional Energy Development Organization (TaTEDO) Eng. Etomiah Sawe, he said relevant international supportive policies of modern energy cooking services that Tanzania has acceded to include; The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL), and the Paris agreement, among others.  Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) seeks to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. Access to clean cooking services is therefore integral to this goal (SDG 7) (SDGs).  The Paris Agreement seeks to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to limit the global temperature rise to below 2°C above pre-industrial level (UNCCC, 2020). Tanzania is among the countries that ratified the Paris Agreement by submitting its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) on 18th May 2018. The Tanzania NDCs include actions to promote and implement renewable energy options as a measure to adapt to climate change effects and contribute to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, we have the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), the UN initiative that was launched in 2011 to catalyze major new investments in a bid to accelerate the transformation of the world’s energy systems, pursue the elimination of energy poverty, and enhance prosperity. SE4All calls on all stakeholders to take concrete actions towards ensuring universal access to sustainable energy services; double the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency and double the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix, within the UN timeframe of 2030. Tanzania was among the first countries to sign a commitment to the SE4ALL Initiative and has since developed a SE4ALL Action Agenda, Investment Prospectus detailing actions that the Government intends to carry out to ensure access to sustainable energy for all.

The modern energy services Programme  (MECS) supported by UKaid in partnership with  ESMAP and managed by the Loughborough University in UK, brings  and draws on knowledge and experience from  different partners around the world ,The programme expects to build on such opportunities and knowledge emerging from the programme to break out of the business as usual approaches and rapidly accelerate the transition from biomass to clean cooking on global scale. TaTEDO is one of the southern partners of this very interesting and promising programme on clean cooking solutions.

 Barriers to addressing the situation in Tanzania

Despite the recognised benefits of modern energy cooking services for health, local environment and climate change, large-scale adoption and sustained use of clean cooking solutions such as electricity and biogas is not succeeding.  This is due to a variety of context specific barriers both on the demand and supply side. While financing, lack of appropriate business and delivery models, and poor enabling environment appear to be major constraints for manufacturers and suppliers of the efficient cooking appliances, lack of supportive policies, information, awareness, and cultural barriers dominate demand side. According to Eng. Sawe, the barriers are further elaborated to include:-

Firstly, on the supply side there is a problem of poor and inappropriate business models for clean cooking appliances, which has led into low rate of adoption of the clean cooking appliances hence stagnation into market growth. There are more other common factors which contribute into market stagnation; these include lack of information on the availability of the clean cooking solutions and poor affordability.

Secondly, appliances are not available due to limited distribution networks as there are no agents and distributors at the local levels.

Thirdly, lack of investment and working capital to start up business is a challenge to most of the small and medium scale suppliers and distributors of the clean cooking solutions. They usually operate in difficult business environments with a low profit margin activity.

In addition, poor enabling environment such as inadequate supportive policies that favours incentives for electricity cooking appliances is another challenge that hinders the market growth. These appliances are imported but lack of incentives in taxes and other legal requirements that can promote and facilitate massive influx and supply of the appliance has led into higher costs of these appliances which are not affordable to end users.

On the demand side, despite the affordable rate of electricity according to REA 2018 evaluation report, majority of the customers still use inefficient biomas cooking stoves due to non-availability and affordability of clean cooking solutions because of the poor cash flow of most end users. Only middle- and upper-income households can afford, majority of the low-income households still use low quality fuels. Low awareness on available alternative and their purchase options as well as financing mechanisms contributes to this challenge.

An additional challenge on the demand side is that majority of the people have a lack of familiarity and the inability to use clean cooking energy solutions which is hindrance to the uptake. This is also attributed to fear of explosions and lack of spare parts. Thus, it has created fear of been seen ignorant hence contribute into low adoption rate.

Finally, cooking is very much embedded in culture, and due to cultural resistance, it has been difficult to adopt the clean cooking solutions. These cultures which are deeply tradition-based and location-specific are linked to the cooking habits, traditions, cultural appropriateness of the device, and perceptions about the taste of food. Thus, these barriers are limiting large-scale marketing and the potential of alternative scalability. 

Tanzanian Policies Relevant to modern energy cooking services

Within the country, initiatives for addressing the modern energy cooking services situation is compounded by weak institutional and policy frameworks, mainly poor consideration of cooking energy in the energy policy discussions and agendas. Often, electricity for lighting and other uses take precedence while cooking remains a marginalized agenda mainly driven by few NGOs and private actors with limited investment and working capitals. This has meant that clean cooking services is mostly left out in policy decisions that could open up both national and local market and non-market opportunities. It also means that the voices of the majority of the poor who engage in cooking on day to day basis mostly women and girls, are left out of the policy processes, further marginalizing opportunities for transitioning to more inclusive and gender sensitive clean cooking services. Enhancing energy access through clean cooking services therefore requires supportive policies and innovative approaches that catalyze opportunities for sustained and inclusive use and development opportunities

Tanzania has implemented limited national level policies to accelerate the development and adoption of clean cooking services in line with the above efforts. There is the National Development Vision 2025, released in 2000, which envisages Tanzania becoming a middle-income country by 2025; huge achievement, the country has reached this target by 2020. The National Strategy for Economic Growth and Reduction of Poverty, adopted in 2005, proposes strategies for reduction of poverty and raising incomes and improving the quality of life and social well-being, governance, and accountability. The Government supports and encourages innovations, product development, quality and marketing strategies.

Due to such limited policy support for modern energy cooking services in Tanzania, the sector has been dominated by gradual and slow ascent on the energy ladder. However, overtime, as income increases, some people move upwards to modern energy sources (improved cook stoves and LPG) and a few to the use of electricity, in addition, fuel stacking is commonly practiced.

According to statistics released by REA in 2017, the rate of electrifying households in Tanzania has increased by 6.2 percent. This is a big achievement that was noted in the last five years but less than 0.5 percent of the connected households in Tanzania use electricity for cooking..

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