Championing for DRE & Clean Cooking in Ghana

Participants that attended the SDG 7 workshop in Ghana

Amanda Addo is a 54-year-old mother of four living in rural Ghana. To eke out a living she owns a small restaurant that sells indigenous Ghanaian delicacies to residents in her community. She is also one of the many caterers that the government of Ghana has contracted in the school feeding programme. The programme is an initiative by the Ghanaian government to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on education, poverty alleviation and food security by offering food to children from poor households and ensuring that they attend school. Amanda’s restaurant feeds about 420 children per day.

One of the challenges that Amanda faces in the running of her small business is the cost of firewood. A month’s worth of firewood costs 36 USD – a punitive amount for any woman living in the rural area. This coupled with the adverse health effects that come with it. Amanda’s situation is not unique, exposure to smoke from polluting, open fires or inefficient fuels – the primary means of cooking for nearly three billion people in the developing world – causes nearly 4 million premature deaths.

ACCESS Coordination Group member, Ezekiel Chibeze, moderating one of the sessions

It is against this backdrop that ACCESS in collaboration with Hivos held a CSOs engagement workshop in Ghana. The workshop brought together government and CSOs to share experiences and learnings on how the policy environment is contributing or hampering progress towards achieving Clean Cooking and DRE targets in Ghana. The participants interrogated the successes and challenges and what opportunities were presented by the civic space to strengthen their advocacy efforts.

Ghana is one of the success stories in Africa in terms of electrification and clean cooking – 84% of the population enjoys access to electricity. In his opening remarks, Mr. Wisdom Togogbo, the Director of Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Energy & Petroleum affirmed Ghana’s commitment to double access to clean affordable energy by integrating renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions. He emphasized on the government’s plan to increase clean cooking through LPG penetration in the local districts by adopting the gas cylinder recirculation model. It is worth noting that West Africa is currently leading in terms of clean cooking due to the wide adoption of LPG in the region.

He stated that 9 out of the 20 programmes set in Ghana’s Nationally Determined Contributions (Gh-NDCs) as part of commitments towards the Paris Agreement is geared towards the energy sector. This includes adding 10% renewable energy into the country’s energy mix. As at 2015, Ghana produces 42.5 Megawatts of renewable energy and hopes to increase it to over a 1000 Megawatts by 2030 to reduce the country’s dependency on thermal energy as well as make DRE available to off-grid communities. About 220,000 jobs would be created along the value chain of the Renewable Energy Master Plan (REMP) implementation.

Some of the successes in DRE & Clean cooking identified by the participants included the draft national Clean Cooking Strategy that is currently under review, and the Energy Master Plan that presents an entry for CSOs to influence its implementation. This was as a result of advocacy undertaken by Ghanaian CSOs advocating for DRE & Clean Cooking. The participants also affirmed that a lot of trainings targeting women and youth on the benefits and productive uses of clean cooking had taken place. There was also political goodwill from the government with the second lady of Ghana, Samira Bawumia, serving as the ambassador for clean cooking and helping raise awareness on pertinent issues.

Participants during the breakout sessions

One of the biggest challenges identified was the lack of financing – both at the national and local level – to implement the infrastructure needed to support DRE and Clean cooking. At the community level, women like Amanda, have to dig deep into their pocket to invest in clean cookstoves. Thanks to her small business, she managed to save up and invest in six of these cookstoves. For many of her friends who do not have a source income, they have to make-do with firewood. With the new improved cookstoves, Amanda spends about USD 7 on fuel – a fifth of the cost of using firewood.  Amanda’s appeal to the government is to put in place subsidies or financing that allows women to pay for clean cookstoves through flexible payment plans.

On the upside, there are many local artisans producing improved cookstoves.  Participants, however, agreed that there needs to be government regulations on the standards of production and the final product. So what next? To entrench the gains made and address the challenges in DRE & clean cooking in Ghana, the CSOs agreed that :

  1. Building synergy with other platforms that share common goals such as the SDG 7 Ghana platform would strengthen advocacy efforts.
  2. The CSOs also committed to invest in capacity building in areas such as research, governance and advocacy.
  3. CSOs to work with other stakeholders in harmonizing data and also ensure the acquisition of technical skills for data analysis.
  4. CSOs need to understand the existing frameworks and policies as pertains DRE and clean cooking.
  5.  To ensure financial sustainability, CSOs were encouraged to venture into social enterprise business models.

As ACCESS heads to Zambia, some of these learnings will be shared with the CSOs to see how they integrate these learnings in their advocacy agenda, noting that the Southern Africa region is lagging behind in terms of progress to achieve DRE and clean cooking targets.

*The workshop was supported by one of our partners – Hivos. This was the first of a series of forums to be held in Zambia and Senegal.

Prioritizing Electrification and Clean Cooking in Kenya: Energy Act 2019

The stakeholders comprised of national government officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, sub-national government leaders, CSOs in energy and nexus CSOs.

In summary

  • Kenya’s Energy Act of 2019 has the potential to shift the paradigm only if all of the sector players form partnerships geared towards financing, implementation and proper legislative processes that factor in the needs of the energy-poor.
  • Partnerships should be fostered between CSOs and the government to advance and support inclusive and integrated energy plans at the national and county level.
  • Countrywide survey and a resource assessment of all renewable energy resources will set the stage for extensive exploitation of renewable resources to meet Kenyas’ energy needs and requirements.

In partnership with SEforALL’s People-Centered Accelerator, the ACCESS Coalition held a workshop in November 18-19, 2019 in Nairobi Kenya. The workshop brought together stakeholders involved in the implementation of an inclusive, integrated vision of energy access – spanning grid and off-grid electricity and clean cooking.

Kenya’s SEforALL action agenda outlines how the country will achieve its ambitious goals of universal access to electricity by 2022 and clean cooking fuels and technologies by 2030. ACCESS members, partners and other CSOs have continued to support and work in partnership with governments by providing valuable data, advising on policy formulation and demonstrating solutions to secure last-mile energy solutions including how to overcome investment barriers in inclusive energy service planning and delivery. Despite this collaborative approach, Kenya – as is the case of many other African countries – is not on track to achieve its SEforALL/SDG 7 targets.

Participants mapping Kenyan CSO initiatives at the county level

The stakeholders comprised of national government officials from Kenya’s Ministry of Energy, sub-national government leaders, CSOs in energy and nexus CSOs. They interrogated the recently enacted Energy Act of 2019 and its implications on energy provision in Kenya. Specifically looking at how county-level governments in Kenya can be supported to develop their energy plans using an inclusive, Integrated Energy Pathway (IEP) approach, (addressing both grid and off-grid electricity as well as clean cooking) to accelerate the achievement of SEforALL/ SDG7 targets.

Speaking during the event, Jacqueline Kimeu, the ACCESS coordinator noted, “The Energy Act of 2019 consolidated the entire laws relating to energy sector development in Kenya, and provides a framework for the devolution of the provision of energy services to the grassroots level.”

During the intensive two-day sessions the participants probed the existing capacity-building efforts at the national and county level on energy access and integration into cross-sectoral development planning.  Besides outlining the coordination and resources needed, the workshop pointed out potential opportunities within county energy plans and identify areas in which CSOs could collaborate to advance SDG 7. 

Paul Mbuthi, Deputy Director, Ministry of Energy, Kenya, making his remarks during the workshop

The government leaders affirmed their commitment to collaborating with the CSOs to advance energy access in Kenya. As noted by Paul Mbuthi, Deputy Director, Ministry of Energy in Kenya, the country has the right instruments in place. Partnerships with government and CSOs needs to take place within the provision of the frameworks provided. He reiterated “The law provides for modalities of engagement. Opportunities to engage must be created within this framework. CSOs need to identify these opportunities and keep abreast on what is happening at the national level.”

Reaching the underserved

In Kenya, low-income households, located off the grid, in rural areas, spend more than 20% of their total income on energy. It is paramount that the government invests in affordable energy solutions that reach everyone. Caroline McGregor from SEforALL affirmed this commitment during her presentation, “Achieving SDG7 and ‘leaving no one behind’ solutions must be designed to respond to the needs of the poorest and most marginalized in society –those who would get left behind when business is conducted as usual.” 

The workshop in progress

The Act also empowers county governments to build local renewable energy centers in collaboration with the Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Corporation (REREC) REREC. This creates the platform for technology transfer and technology development assuring counties of energy independence in the long run. Stakeholders were encouraged to work with these energy centres to offer context-specific programs.

The SEforALL People-Centered Accelerator’s Work stream 1 is focused on reaching the hardest to reach; the so-called ‘last mile’. The partner project developed under WS1 for 2019-2020 is “National Strategies”, meaning support for policy development and implementation at the country level, where the access deficits are greatest. ACCESS is the lead implementing partner.

You can download the Energy Act Analysis report here.