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World leaders, private sector commit $2.2 billion towards clean cooking in Africa

The European Union agreed at the summit to mobilise 400 million euros for clean cooking activities in Africa.

A summit held by the International Energy Agency in Paris on clean cooking in Africa (Photo: Gas Outlook)

Governments and businesses have pledged to invest over US$2 billion towards clean cooking solutions in Africa at a summit held by the International Energy Agency (IEA) in Paris on Tuesday.

Over 2 billion people globally do not have access to clean cooking facilities. Over half of those live in Africa.

Reliance on traditional cooking methods such as firewood, charcoal and kerosene is a leading cause of death due to respiratory diseases in developing countries and disproportionally affects women and children.

As many as 2.5 million premature deaths could be avoided every year globally by 2030 thanks to universal access to clean cooking, according to the IEA.

Rudimentary cooking systems also generate around 2% of global emissions annually, equivalent to all maritime and aviation emissions combined.

Shifting to clean cooking systems, primarily fuelled by LPG but also by biofuels and electricity is a low hanging fruit of the energy transition in African countries, as it would leverage existing and proven technologies which require relatively small investments to deploy, however the issue has so far been overlooked by political leaders and is set to worsen over the coming years unless action is taken, speakers said.

To address that, the European Union agreed to mobilise 400 million euros for clean cooking activities in Africa, EU Commission executive vice president Maros Sefcovic said.

Individual commitments were made by the leaders of Norway, Denmark, the UK and the U.S., among others.

“In concert with countries, we will increase our financing for clean cooking to $200 million annually over the next decade” while also scaling-up finance provisions through the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), the president of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Adesina said.

The CEO of TotalEnergies Patrick Pouyanne said the company intends to invest over $400 million by 2030 to scale up its investments in LPG for cooking in India and Africa.

TotalEnergies also wants to develop digital pay-as-you-cook technologies that allow customers to pay only as they use LPG cylinders, thus avoiding paying for the full value of the cylinder up front.

“LPG is a pragmatic, existing enabler” of the shift towards to clean cooking, which “positively impacts health, gender equality and the environment,” he said.

The CEO of commodities trader Vitol, Russell Hardy, said the company, through its affiliates Vivo Energy and Engen, is planning a $550 million investment in clean cooking in Africa.

The company already operates in wholesale and retail LPG markets in several African countries.

To enable the shift toward clean cooking solutions, regulatory stability and the implementation of a carbon methodology for LPG are needed, he said.

Oil majors Eni and Shell also pledged $300 million and $200 million investments respectively.

Carbon credits can also play a major role in funding the clean cooking transition in Africa, although increasing transparency in voluntary carbon markets is crucial to ensure the success of this system, the summit heard.

The transition towards clean cooking should also be an integral plan of national energy plans moving forward, speakers said.

Shifting away from unsafe cooking methods also highlights the key role of fossil fuels in the energy transition of African countries at a time when international investors are faced with increasingly more stringent ESG requirements which hamper investments in these resources, the president of Togo Faure Gnassingbé said, calling for the criteria to be adjusted.

“We need to be realistic and not open up to sterile debates,” he said.

The war in Ukraine also highlighted the issue of energy security, he said, adding that it was essential for Africa to develop LPG production and refining capabilities.

Following the summit, the IEA said it will track investments to ensure the pledges are fulfilled while it focuses on further expanding financial commitments towards the $4 billion/year to 2030 target needed to enable universal access to clean cooking in sub-Saharan Africa.

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