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Electrifying Kenya’s Clean Cooking Week

3rd December 2021

By Mourine Chepkemoi (African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS)), Jon Leary (Gamos Ltd.) and Shukri Abdulkadir (Loughborough University).

The MECS Kenya team joined forces with Clean Cooking Association of Kenya (CCAK ) and the Ministry of Energy during their Clean Cooking Week this week, 29 November – 3 December 2021. In her remarks in the opening session, Mourine Chepkemoi of the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) explained our strategic objective of bringing actors from the electrification sector into the clean cooking sector to develop new partnerships to explore the emerging opportunities for eCooking in Kenya.

Mourine Chepkemoi, Research Fellow, ACTS addresses the clean cooking sector in the opening session (image credit: Jon Leary, MECS).

ACTS, the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and Jikoni Magic worked together to deliver a powerful mix of live cooking demonstrations throughout the week designed to challenge false perceptions around cooking with electricity by allowing attendees to see, smell and taste for themselves just how easy it is to cook with electricity, how delicious the food can be and how little it really costs.

Below are some highlights of our activities throughout the week

Day 1-2 Cooking Exhibition at KICC:

The team showcased a range of modern energy-efficient appliances at an exhibition booth, which we co-branded as KPLC/MECS/Jikoni Magic. These included induction cookers, air friers and Electric Pressure Cookers (EPCs). We were delighted to see that almost half of the exhibitors were also showcasing eCooking appliances, with our partners Burn, Groupe SEB and Biolite all present.

David Njugi, CCAK; Wairimu Njehia, KPLC; Jon Leary, MECS, Mourine Chepkemoi, ACTS; Agnes Kalyonge, Jikoni Magic at the MECS Kenya exhibition booth (image credit: Jon Leary, MECS).

Day 3 Field Trip to KPLC’s Pika na Power demonstration centre:

The MECS Kenya team visited KPLC’s modern demonstration kitchen in Electricity House where participants were able to see, smell and taste delicious Kenyan dishes cooked with modern energy-efficient appliances in a very interactive session. The team used plug-in energy meters to record exactly how much electricity was used to cook each dish. The 20 participants were shocked to see that we cooked 5 different dishes for just 52 KSh (0.54 USD) using energy-efficient appliances. The demonstration highlighted the value of energy-efficiency by also using a hotplate, which used a whopping 64 KSh (0.64 USD) to cook just 1 dish! Burn, Groupe SEB, Strathmore University, Jikoni Magic and other MECS partners were present to showcase their appliances and share their experiences of working in the emerging eCooking sector. Further, regular attendees of the Pika na Power cooking class were able to share their perceptions and experiences of cooking with energy-efficient appliances.

Agnes of Jikoni Magic and Beatrice of Burn Manufacturing demonstrate the Von and Ecoa EPCs respectively (image credit: Jon Leary, MECS).

Day 4 ‘Emerging clean cooking technologies’ Webinar: 

Irene Wanjohi of KPLC, Jon Leary of MECS and Anne Wacera of Strathmore University took part in a panel discussion which explored the viability of emerging clean cooking technologies, such as electric cooking, bioethanol and other modern fuels which can play a key role in Kenya’s transition to clean cooking. The panel highlighted the emerging opportunities and challenges for these new technologies, such as erratic taxation regimes and lack of awareness amongst both consumers and the rest of the clean cooking sector. Irene highlighted KPLC’s role in supporting the clean cooking sector to meet its 2028 goal of universal access, emphasising their focus on educating consumers on the broad range of energy-efficient appliances now available. Jon Leary drew attention to the potential of integrating smart-metering into eCooking appliances to tackle the high upfront cost of energy-efficient appliances with carbon financing and PayGo business models. Anne spoke about the need for standards to be accompanied by capacity building for testing, repair and consumer labelling to ensure Kenyan’s have confidence in the appliances they invest in.

Burn’s ecoa builds upon the deep connection Burn Manufacturing has developed with low income households across the country through the market research, sale and after-sales service they have delivered for their popular Jikokoa family of improved biomass stoves (image credit: Jon Leary, MECS).

It was inspiring to hear eCooking resonate throughout the whole event. 5 years ago, electricity would not even have been mentioned in such a forum, but there was increasing recognition throughout the week of the vital role that eCooking will play in supporting Kenya to meet its goal of universal access to clean cooking by 2028.

  • “If we now have 70% of households are connected to electricity, how do we get them to start cooking with it?” David Njugi, CCAK CEO
  • “Isn’t it time that our plans for electrification also included clean cooking so that we know that out of all the MW we are generating, how many are going to be used in the kitchen and that we also make sure that our clean cooking policy includes electric cooking” Jechoniah Kitala, CCAK Chairman
David Njugui, CCAK CEO highlights the emerging opportunities for eCooking in Kenya (image credit: Jon Leary, MECS).

Although we are working from a low baseline, with 0% of Kenyans using electricity as their primary cooking fuel and only 3% even owning an eCooking appliance, the future looks bright for eCooking in Kenya. This week highlighted several opportunities to take forward the discussions and turn them into action:

  • Launch of the eCooking Community of Practice – David Njugi, CCAK CEO announced the formation of a new Community of Practice that will be co-convened by CCAK, ACTS and KPLC. This partnership between the clean cooking and electrification sector will create a shared space for ongoing dialogue that can identify and explore new pathways for action for the emerging eCooking Sector. The eCooking Community of Practice will complement the monthly eCooking dialogues already being convened by ACTS with a WhatsApp group for ongoing dialogue. The Community of Practice  will bring together solar companies, mini-grid developers, electrical appliance distributors, cookstove manufacturers, CSOs specialising in consumer awareness, health sector experts and many more.
  • Kenya’s eCooking Strategy – Faith Odongo, Senior Deputy Director for Renewable Energy announced the Ministry of Energy’s plan to carry out a specific eCooking Sector Study, which will lay the foundation for the development of a dedicated eCooking Strategy designed to rapidly accelerate the uptake of eCooking in Kenya. Both will be supported by MECS with funding from FCDO and UKPACT and will feed into a broader Clean Cooking Strategy that will lay out a roadmap for the transformation of cooking across Kenya in time for the ambitious target of 100% clean cooking by 2028.
Faith Odongo, Senior Deputy Director for Renewable Energy at the Ministry of Energy engages with Agnes Kalyonge, Director of Jikoni Magic and Wairimu Njehia, Manager of KPLC’s Pika na Power programme (image credit: Jon Leary, MECS).

Many thanks to all our partners who made this such a successful week, in particular KPLC, Groupe SEB (Tefal, Moulinex), Fresh Fri, Burn (eCoa), ACTS, Strathmore University, CCAK and the Ministry of Energy.

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