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Cooking with Electricity in Kenya – a Culinary Tour of a Transformative Opportunity

27th September 2021

By Jon Leary (Loughborough University / Gamos Ltd.), Mourine Chepkemoi (African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS)), Wairimu Njehia (Pika na Power), Agnes Kalyonge (Jikoni Magic) and Jay Amin (Independent Cinematographer).

People often say that ‘seeing is believing’, however when it comes to cooking, people need to see, smell and taste before you can really start to convince them. That’s what makes live cooking demonstrations so effective.

Clean cooking experts from across the world visited Nairobi for the Clean Cooking Forum in 2019, many of whom attended a side trip to Kenya Power’s modern demonstration kitchen at Electricity House. 

Kenya Power is the nation’s electrical utility. With over 7 million customers and a predominantly renewable grid with surplus power now available, they are looking to proactively stimulate demand. Pika na Power is Kenya Power’s flagship electric cooking campaign, designed to show customers just how quick, easy and affordable cooking with electricity is. To date, this has included TV series, social media campaigns and live cooking classes.

This session aimed to showcase the compatibility of electric cooking with Kenyan cuisine using live cooking demonstrations.  These demonstrations are a powerful way to change perceptions about cooking with electricity.

Many people believe that electricity is too expensive for cooking and that food cooked with electricity just doesn’t taste the same. However this event showed that not only can it be just as delicious, but energy-efficient appliances can make it much cheaper.

This event took participants on a culinary tour of Kenya and the opportunities and challenges for cooking popular Kenyan foods with electricity. It brought to life the Kenya eCookBook, which explored the trade-offs between energy, time and money across the popular fuels and appliances in Kenya today. It revealed the huge opportunity for cooking ‘heavy foods’ such as beans in ultra-efficient Electric Pressure Cookers (EPCs), which can save over 50% on time and 85% on cost versus, LPG, charcoal or electric hotplates.

This session took place at Kenya Power’s recently refurbished model kitchen at Electricity House in Nairobi’s CBD. The session was hosted by Wairimu Njehia of Pika na Power (Cook with Electricity) and Agnes Kalyonge of Jikoni Magic, (Magic in the Kitchen), who demonstrated several popular Kenyan dishes on a range of electric cooking appliances, with live monitoring and commentary on electricity consumption and expenditures as they cook. Participants were able to sample the dishes and take home a copy of the Kenya eCookBook.

Jikoni Magic is a Kenyan social media brand championing soulful Kenyan food by sharing simple recipes for classic Kenyan dishes that anybody can make at home. Supported by the MECS programme, Jikoni Magic ran a smart cooking campaign designed to empower everyday Kenyan cooks to save time and money in the kitchen by adopting energy-efficient appliances and practices.

The session also presented insights from the MECS cooking diary studies, which followed 80 households in 4 countries for 6 weeks to understand how they cook and how they might cook with electricity. The session concluded with presentations from MECS challenge fund winners on how they plan to enable cooking with electricity beyond the limits of Kenya Power’s grid.

This evidence-based live cooking demonstration showed that not only can food cooked with electricity be just as delicious and much easier to prepare, it can also save you time and money.

Maybe it’s time we all started to think more seriously about cooking with electricity…


Featured image: The side trip to Kenya Power’s modern demonstration kitchen at Electricity House during the Clean Cooking Forum 2019 (image credit: Jon Leary, MECS).  

Opportunity: Women in Modern Energy Cooking (WMEC) initiative launched