By Mourice Seretta
Kenya has been recognized by Solar Cookers International (SCI) for its progressive effort in promoting and expanding the use of clean cooking as an alternative to traditional sources of energy.
Grabbing the prestigious Solar Cookers International Order of Excellence for 2020 and being ranked in the 13th worldwide, the Kenyan government was recognized for including solar cooking goals in its Voluntary National Review (VNR) which is used to track progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically number 7, which highlights the urgent need to take action on advancing access to clean cooking solutions.
While welcoming and commenting on the recognition, Cabinet Secretary of Energy, Hon Charles Keter said: “The Kenyan government has been deliberate in making steady advancement in transforming the clean cooking sector and our brimming optimism towards these transformations has resulted in significant investments and innovations, both locally and internationally. The policies and national development plan we have put in place are in tandem with our Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Action Agenda which envisions that universal access to modern cooking solutions for all Kenyans will be achieved by 2030. The goal is to ensure that we achieve sustainable access to affordable, reliable and modern energy for all Kenyans as well as scale up our national socio-economic development.”
Mr Keter disclosed that the increased attraction by investors in the clean cooking sector has created market growth for the sector, resulting in the birth of local industrial cookstoves manufacturing, local assembly, and new market players.
Another significant milestone Kenya has achieved in this sector is the development of standards for biomass cookstoves and meters dispensing LPG from cylinders. An ISO test sequence standard has also been adopted for stove emissions, performance, safety, and durability. The government has also made great strides to frontier public-private partnerships to enhance standards and labelling for clean cooking biomass technologies. This is a step forward to enabling Kenyans to easily comprehend information on stove and fuel performance, which is fundamental in making informed purchasing decisions.
According to the National Cooking Sector Study 2019, many Kenyans still require interventions that will increase their access to improved and clean cooking solutions. Statistics from the study show that 93.2% of the rural populations continue to rely on solid fuels as their primary fuel source. This means that there is a need to study the clean cooking sector and visualize a shift to alternatives for all populations, especially vulnerable populations, and those in underserved counties.
Commenting on Kenya’s recognition, Solar Cookers International Board President, Dr Shishpal Rawat, said: “It is incredibly fitting that Kenya has included solar cooking in its VNR given SCI’s strong history of solar cooking success and collaboration in Kenya”. This includes one of only four globally recognized solar cooker Performance Evaluation Process (PEP) testing stations at the University of Nairobi and hundreds of families in Kakuma refugee camp empowered with solar cookers made in Kenya, by Kenyans, using Kenyan materials.
Also commenting on the recognition, SCI Executive Director, Caitlyn Hughes said: “SCI looks forward to continuing to build a strong relationship with the Republic of Kenya with solar cooking and encouraging other countries to follow Kenya’s leading example.”
The Solar Cooker International award recognizes the most outstanding individuals, organizations, and countries whose sustained efforts have contributed most to empowering people to use solar energy for cooking and pasteurizing water. Solar cooking is the cleanest and most sustainable form of cooking. It improves the health of women and children, prevents deforestation, preserves the soil, and reduces CO2 emissions.
Solar cooking positively impacts all 17 SDGs. SCI encourages all countries to include solar cooking goals in its official policies and plans, including their Nationally Determined Contributions to address climate change. SCI improves human and environmental health by supporting the expansion of effective carbon-free solar cooking in world regions of greatest needs leads through advocacy, research, and strengthening the capacity of the global solar cooking movement.