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Reflections on the 5th Annual Day of the Nepal National Electric Cooking Campaign (NECC)

14th March 2024

By Prem Bikram Karki (Sr. Project Officer, PEEDA), Suman Basnet (Team Leader, Nepal Renewable Energy Programme), Shekhar Sharma (Sector Expert), Subarna Kapali (MD-Ajummery Bikash Foundation), Dr. Richard Sieff (MECS Programme), and Biraj Gautam (Chief Executive Officer, PEEDA).

The National Electric Cooking Campaign (NECC) celebrated its 5th anniversary on 2080 Magh 11 (January 25, 2024) at the Local Development Training Academy in Lalitpur (Nepal). Launched five years ago in 2019, the Campaign provides a platform for promoting electric cooking (eCooking) in Nepal and supporting the Government of Nepal’s (GoN) eCooking ambitions; principally the target of the 2nd Nationally Determined Contribution plan (2020) for 25% of households to use electricity as their primary cooking fuel by 2030. The anniversary event aimed to reflect on the progress, learnings, and challenges of the Nepali eCooking sector and was attended by senior GoN representatives including the Honorable Minister of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation (MoEWRI), Mr. Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Mr. Gopal Prasad Sigdel, Secretary of MoEWRI, and Mr. Nawa Raj Dhakal, Executive Director of Alternative Energy Promotion Center (AEPC) as well as over 60 stakeholders representing various development organizations, private and not for profit entities.

The event began with opening remarks from Mr. Narayan Gyawali, Chairperson of the National Association of Community Electricity Users-Nepal (NACEUN), who outlined the historical context of NECC and recited a self-written poem on the importance of promoting eCooking. The event was then formally inaugurated by Chief Guest Honorable Minister, Mr. Shakti Bahadur Basnet.

The opening session on ‘E-Cooking in Nepal: Progress and Lessons’ then commenced with a presentation by Sector Expert, Mr. Shekhar Sharma. The presentation covered eCooking progress updates from NECC partners and the pertinent issues requiring policymakers’ attention in order to foster accelerated market uptake of eCookstoves. Issues included raising consumer awareness of the choice of the eCooking technologies now available in Nepal, expanding access to consumer financing for eCooking appliances, and improving electricity supply reliability.

After the presentation, guests provided reflections on the requirements to achieve Nepal’s eCooking targets. The following were the main points raised.

  • Honorable Minister Basnet acknowledged NECC’s role towards achieving Nepal’s eCooking ambitions, praising the comprehensiveness of the campaign which has seen multiple actors collaborating in eCooking promotion and awareness. Recognizing the various societal, environmental, health, and financial benefits of eCooking, the Minister highlighted eCooking’s pivotal role in improving the national economy, which the Government of Nepal (GoN) has prioritized in its mandate. The Minister also emphasised that climate justice was central to GoN activities. He noted that he had attended various clean cooking events at COP28 and emphasized that while Nepal’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions was negligible, the country faces some of the most severe climate change impacts in the world.
  • Secretary of MoEWRI, Mr. Gopal Prasad Sigdel, added that to further promote and build trust and acceptance levels in eCooking, companies should increase warranty periods or seek foreign investors to manufacture/assemble in Nepal to help create higher demand.
  • Mr. Nawa Raj Dhakal (AEPC) emphasised the current opportunities for eCooking and said that now was the time for households to shift from wood and fossil fuels to using electricity as a primary cooking fuel. Mr. Dhakal stated that the GoN’s NDC eCooking target can be achieved when there is a reliable electricity supply, adequate post-sales services, and quality performance and safety standards applied to eCooking appliances, services, and utensils. Towards these targets, he added that the national utility, the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), is continuously working on upgrading transmission and distribution lines and that AEPC, in consultation with stakeholders, is working on guidelines for applying standards to eCooking appliances. He further requested companies to focus on the delivery of quality and reliable products and post-sales services, increase guarantees and warranty periods, and develop repair and maintenance services to attract more consumers. Referencing the Global Climate Fund (GCF) funding secured by the GoN, he urged stakeholders to tap into additional climate finance resources to help scale eCooking in Nepal. Finally, he emphasised the need for accurate publicly available information on the pros and cons of different eCooking technologies to help consumers choose appliances which best suit their needs and resources.
  • Mr. Subarna Kapali, Managing Director of Ajummery Bikas Foundation, highlighted that while improved biomass stoves have contributed to cleaner cooking, eCooking is now Nepal’s optimum clean cooking option. To drive eCooking transitions, he called for a particular focus on three key areas: pro-eCooking policy advocacy, strengthening technology and standards for eCooking products and services, and improving consumer awareness of eCooking including the information flows on eCooking from all three tiers of Government. Towards this last aim, he noted that NECC plans to expand its events to the provincial level, starting with Lumbini province the following month.
  • Ms. Pooja Sharma, Country Director of Practical Action, stated that stakeholder coordination and a common eCooking vision is essential for clarifying the roadmap towards electricity becoming a primary cooking fuel. She noted that bureaucratic hurdles impeding the policy roadmap, including those between different line ministries, need to be minimised. To scale eCooking, she highlighted the need to explore financing options for eCooking market development, improve electricity infrastructure, and integrate digitalization and a gender-responsive approach. Given the recent pledges to promote electric cooking at COP28 and the Global Electric Cooking Coalition (GeCCo) launch, the director recommended an increased focus on last-mile eCooking interventions.
  • Ms. Bhagirathi Gyawali, a Member of the Electricity Regulatory Commission (ERC), stated that the ERC had reduced tariffs twice following proposals from the utility NEA. He noted that the new directives issued by ERC convey the need for eCooking information to flow from the utility to all stakeholders.

A panel discussion was then held on the sustainable use and adoption of eCooking, which was chaired by Mr. Ram Gopal Lageju, Senior Divisional Engineer at MoEWRI, and moderated by Dr. Ashma Vaidya, Sector Expert. The following were the main insights and recommendations made by the panel members.

  • Mr. Ram Prasad Adhikari, Chairperson of the Maiti Community Rural Electrification Cooperative Organization (Dhading municipality), called for large-scale awareness raising campaigns to sensitise local community leaders on eCooking benefits, appropriate mechanisms to manage the upfront costs of adoption, and the installation of meters for all households to address safety concerns and avoid transformer challenges. He also noted that most rural households’ electricity consumption falls within the lowest tariff band and that domestic tariff revisions are necessary to encourage greater usage among these households.
  • Ms. Sita Adhikari, Founder of Kalpavrikshya Nepal, emphasised that eCooking transitions will need time to overcome psychological barriers concerning the shift from the use of cooking fuels which are visible in the form of flames to electricity which constitutes an invisible cooking fuel.
  • Mr. Biraj Gautam, CEO of the People, Energy and Environment Development Association (PEEDA), highlighted that shifting to 100% eCooking is currently challenging and narratives surrounding eCooking should instead focus on partial transitions which are very much feasible and can provide a more incentivizing message to communities. He warned against free eCookstove distribution initiatives which are less effective in changing consumer behavior towards electric cooking and create market distortion. To support sustainable eCooking adoption, he recommended: developing and institutionalizing accessible and affordable repair and maintenance services (including supply of parts); increasing local government capacity support (including on incorporating assessments of transformer data, infrastructure, and wiring systems upgrades into municipal energy plans); expediting energy quality; researching battery-based electric cooking; and increasing sector coordination and collaboration on financing options.
Figure 2. The panel discussion centered on enablers for sustained and scaled eCooking transitions in Nepal. Raising community awareness of eCooking options, improving national and household electricity infrastructure, and developing and institutionalizing eCooking repair services were some of the main recommendations (image credit: Alina Dangol, PEEDA).

Concluding the event, Mr. Suman Basnet, Team Leader of The Nepal Renewable Energy Programme (NREP), summarized the panel discussion and presented key takeaways. Mr. Nabin Raj Singh, Joint Secretary of MoEWRI, then provided closing remarks which centered on the need for NECC to reach the provincial and local level and for research by NECC partners to be made more accessible to the general public.  


Figure 1, top: The event was well and featured high level Government representation including from: Mr. Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Honorable Minister of MoEWRI, Mr. Gopal Prasad Sigdel, Secretary of MoEWRI, and Mr. Nawa Raj Dhakal, Executive Director of AEPC (image credit: Narayan Gewali NACEUN).