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Uganda’s eCooking journey: Scaling eCooking workshop at USC Africa

6th November 2023

By Dr Will Clements

At GOGLA’s Unlocking Solar Capital event in June 2023 in Kampala, an eCooking scaling session showed how far Uganda has come over the last year, and how every sector actor is playing a crucial role in enabling eCooking at scale. The workshop, which brought together the key players in the Ugandan eCooking sector from the government, utility, research, and the private sector, was well received and attended by government ministers. The session was not videoed, but there is a clear audio recording. This blog itemises the audio recording of the session (available as a whole here with chapters for each speaker), using each speaker’s inspiring work to tell the story of how the Ugandan eCooking revolution is well underway.

After an introduction to the session, Will Clements, a researcher working with MECS programme, discussed the complexity of scaling up modern energy cooking. 01:47 Will Clements on Uganda’s eCooking jigsaw

He introduces the idea of a jigsaw puzzle: all aspects of the enabling environment (policies, strategy, tariff), supply chain (market, financing, repair), and consumer awareness (perceptions, beliefs, research) have to be in place for eCooking to scale. So, how can we work together to improve the supply chain, the current bottleneck? This set the scene for each of the key stakeholders to illustrate their role, and Patrick Tutembe of the energy Regulatory Authority picked up on the enabling framework. 08:42 Patrick Tutembe, Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Ugandan regulator 

Patrick explained that the regulator’s role is to make electric cooking mainstream in the country, primarily for two reasons: stimulating demand growth and contributing to environmental conservation. He emphasises that cost savings are a significant driver. To incentivise customers, ERA took the bold step of setting an eCooking tariff in late 2021. Patrick illustrates the significance of this, while describing ERA’s openness to refining it.

Justine Akume from the Ministry, presented the government’s primary goal as reducing the use of biomass for cooking. 20:44 Justine Akumu, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD). She describes the enabling policy environment MEMD are creating, with support from MECS programme, including development of a national eCooking strategy, efforts to reduce taxes on eCooking appliances, creation of national standards and criteria for labelling and certification, and provision of accessible financing mechanisms for eCooking suppliers. From these two speakers on the enabling environment, the session invited Peter Mwesiga from Umeme utility to share his view.

31:48 Peter Mwesiga, Umeme, Ugandan utility. Peter described how CREEC’s research convinced him that eCooking is affordable and attractive, which has led to the upcoming utility-led EPC pilot project of 1,500 EPCs. This project aims to create awareness and then demand for eCooking appliances, enabling further suppliers to enter the sector and grow their businesses, while also collecting crucial usage data and opinions on electricity costs to evaluate the eCooking tariff, which could enable creation of a more favourable environment as eCooking is scaled.

As the pilot project was being developed, MECS programme funded UNACC to conduct awareness raising activities including cooking exhibitions, and supported creation of six Shamba Shape Up eCooking segments. These efforts are increasing awareness of eCooking advantages, busting myths and misconceptions, and developing capacity for further awareness raising as eCooking scales through the pilot project and beyond. 

After Peter, Agnes Naluwagga discussed CREEC’s crucial eCooking research conducted since 2019, when there was a common perception that cooking with electricity was impractical and costly. 38:12 Agnes Naluwagga, Centre for Research in Energy and Energy Conservation (CREEC).

Agnes explains that eCooking can be significantly more cost-effective compared to traditional methods like charcoal, estimating the payback period for transitioning to eCooking at just three to four months. She also describes crucial efforts to build capacity for repair and maintenance of eCooking appliances. CREEC conducted rigorous safety and performance testing of EPCs for the utility-led pilot, ensuring that the devices can cook Uganda’s cuisine easily, quickly and with tasty results. CREEC have also been piloting battery-supported eCooking for weak grid and off-grid contexts, supported by MECS programme. The session then turned to two private sector suppliers.

Next, Meredith Muthoni explained that a household switching from charcoal to electricity can reduce its weekly fuel budget by up to 55%, according to BURN’s research. 45:41 Meredith Muthoni, BURN Manufacturing.

Over a span of seven years, this translates to savings of over $2,000. She asserts that eCooking has a positive impact on gender roles in the kitchen, citing a 40% increase in men participating in cooking compared to when the meal is made with traditional methods. She also reiterates the need to make these eCooking appliances more affordable and accessible through financing mechanisms, including subsidies and asset financing.

Kato Kibuka described PowerUP’s eCooking journey, reiterating the cost benefits for customers, and highlighting PowerUP’s innovative approach. 50:32 Kato Kibuka, PowerUP.

He explained how their EPC is optimised for Ugandan cuisine, how integrated PAYGO technology spreads customer costs, and how integrated smart metering generates data on energy consumption and even which buttons are pressed. Cooks can monitor their own electricity consumption, helping them to understand their cost savings, while the data is also valuable for exploring the carbon market, securing concessional financing, and demonstrating the impact of eCooking to donors and grid operators. MECS programme has been supporting private sector players with resources and guidance on the new Gold Standard approved metered methodology for carbon finance.

As we can see above, there is a strong eCooking story emerging in Uganda, with each stakeholder playing their part and taking the Grid story forward. Since this was a conference on ‘Off-Grid’ the last part of the session had a participatory activity in which the audience expressed their agreement or disagreement with statements using their feet! 59:00 Agree Disagree activity.

The room becomes a sliding scale of agreement with participants positioning themselves accordingly. The activity sparks discussion on eCooking cost-effectiveness in mini-grids and solar home systems and how it depends on the context, including tariffs and cost of cooking fuels. The need to reduce upfront costs and explore innovative approaches to increase affordability, including through government support, is discussed. It may be more difficult to follow who is saying what, and is left here for interest.

Finally, Simon Batchelor who led the session, described exciting developments in the off-grid eCooking sector, including falling costs of systems in Malawi and India, DC eCooking appliances, mesh networking of solar home systems to share energy, and potential synergies between eCooking and e-mobility. 81:44 Simon summing up.

His summary echoes the thoughts of the panellists who spoke about the importance of off-grid contexts, the potential of off-grid solar cooking solutions, and the potential for eCooking to become viable in mini-grid contexts.


The workshop showed how everyone in the Ugandan eCooking space is pulling in the same direction to achieve scale. Taking the utility-led EPC pilot project as an example, we can see how key eCooking actors came together to enable change. MECS, Umeme, A2EI, CREEC, and the private sector are collaborating to unlock the eCooking sector and benefit customers by saving them money, improving their health, increasing convenience, while also supporting the government’s agenda for demand stimulation.

The upcoming Renewable Energy Conference 2023 in Kampala in November represents an opportunity to ensure continued collaboration as well as launch the national eCooking strategy and the Global eCooking Coalition (GeCCo). GeCCo aims to ensure 10% eCooking in 10 countries by 2030 through by providing leadership, integration, knowledge, and funding that is exclusively focused on the rapid global scaling of electric cooking. Alongside the World Bank funded Energy Access Scale Up Project (includes results-based financing for clean cooking), which will build on the utility-led pilot, the inception of GeCCo shows just how hard all players in Uganda have worked to lead the country to a place where eCooking scaling is beginning.

Featured Image: eCooking workshop, USC conference, Kampala, June 2023. Photo by James Baanabe.

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