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MECS-SC2 (Sparking the Cooking Supply Chain)

Competition overview 

The Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) challenge fund provides research funding to stimulate innovations in modern energy cooking technology and systems. In addition, MECS supports the advancement of innovative clean energy cooking products, processes, and services in low-income countries that are appropriate and acceptable to users.

The ‘Sparking the Cooking Supply Chain’ (SC2) competition is the latest in a series of challenge funds that the MECS programme has engaged with.  Previous funds have prompted innovation, early research, and piloting, all of which seek to rapidly accelerate the transition from biomass to clean cooking, particularly modern energy cooking services, on a global scale. SC2 competition builds on this progression of interest by seeking to explicitly strengthen electric cooking supply chains. This new competition enables the MECS programme, funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO) and delivered by Loughborough University, to address key barriers to electric cooking uptake by understanding what works and what doesn’t in terms of supply chain activation. 

The key aim of the SC2 competition is to develop and implement a detailed sustainable supply chain activation plan.

This competition is a 3-phase project, starting with a 5-month formative research inception stage. Eleven projects went through this stage, submitting a sustainable supply chain activation plan for the second phase. We had funding to support four projects into phase 2. Progression between the phases (i.e. phase 1 to 2 and phase 2 to 3) is competitive and dependent on overall success of the previous phase.

Total duration will be 35 months. Total funding available is £550,000.

Again, the competition was fierce and the reports and plans of a high standard, offering different solutions in different locations. We are pleased to announce the following four projects that were successful in securing funding for phase two.

ATECSustainable supply chain partnership between ATEC & Solektra for 5,000 induction cookstove in Rwanda.

Project Description: Globally 4 billion people still lack access to clean cooking, costing the global economy $2.4 trillion per year and contributing 2% of global carbon emissions, causing multiple health issues due to smoke inhalation, particularly for women and children. 

In Rwanda, 79.9 % of the households use firewood as primary cooking fuel, a major concern for deforestation. Assessment of cooking habits, unmet demands of appliances and identification of key actors are the critical parts in designing a sustainable supply chain process of cookstoves in Rwanda.

To identify the appropriate way of supporting the scale-up of more efficient cook stove supply chains, ATEC and Solektra have been partnered under the Sparking the Cooking Supply Chain Competition (‘SC2’), supported by Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS). The project further compliments the Government of Rwanda (GoR) aggressive grid electrification program to ensure universal access by 2024. It is expected that 5,000 cookstoves will be purchased under the project to unleash and create awareness in the market on the new and innovative cooking solutions.  

Project lead, ATEC, is applying successful supply-chain experience of scaling up the electric cook stove in Cambodia and Bangladesh which is GSM connected, generating digitised carbon credits for triple-bottom-line returns. The consortium, Solektra, has a strong track record of working with solar systems for communities in Rwanda. Combination of this improved technology and proper community engagement is the key in deriving successful mechanism of supply chain activation plan for demand creation of 5000 electric cookstoves under this project.​

Indian Institute of Technology Bombay – Enabling Electric Cooking Ecosystem in Rural India.

Project Description: In India, rural and peri-urban households predominantly use biomass/firewood for cooking even when they have access to cleaner cooking technologies such as LPG, electric cookstoves and biogas.

The electrification of rural areas presents a timely opportunity to provide these communities with reliable access to efficient electric cooking. The electric cooking supply chain envisioned will build on existing network of local retail shops in rural and peri-urban areas. The supply chain activation will be coupled with evidence-based policies through Action Research. The activation plan involves (i) demand-side activities of building awareness (value proposition and customer relationship building to increase social acceptability), and access to financing schemes, and (ii) supply side activities of retailer buying options, delivery channel design, and local capacity building for after-sales service. Demand-side activities will be catalysed by self help group network, and supply-side activities by local aggregator firm; with IIT Bombay as the coordinator for the overall planning, activation and research. A detailed supply chain activation plan will be drawn up in Phase 1. Phase 2 will see the implementation of the plan, monitored by a supply chain digital twin. Quantitative and qualitative field research will also be undertaken in Phase 2 to understand the various factor that affect and are affected by the adoption of electric cooking. The research findings will be used to design the best strategies for sustained adoption & supply chain, a proof of which will be demonstrated in Phase III and generalised for other regions.

Nyalore Strategic collaboration for Kenya’s long-term e-cooking

Project Description: Major barriers for uptake of modern cooking products in urban/peri urban areas are affordability, access, service, and low awareness.  

Nyalore Impact wishes to partner with Equity bank to address affordability of product through consumer financing; through its branches address access throughout the country after the pilot and in peri urban areas, through their Equity Agents and merchants. Equity bank will also assist with credit management, market penetration and customer care services.  

SayonApp will supply the products i.e electric cooking appliances, provide unrivalled after-sales clinics and product maintenance training to the agents. 

Upya is our IT partner who provides flexible and dynamic software to manage operations (sales, inventory, client), records data and monitor key impact metrics. With Upya, we will analyse the data collected at the end of phase 1 and build a base case that will serve as a reference point when measuring impact in phase 2 and 3. 

Agri Bora is a SaaS Company operating in Kenya targeting smallholder farmers in Kenya that will provide online market linkage through their platform by sending SMS. The messages will include availability of electric cooking appliances and consumer financing and the nearest shop.   Nyalore plan to launch an eCooking radio program through leading Citizen Fm which has 20.5 percent of the market share (23,389,290) and a strong online presence. Citizen Fm will run promotions for the program. Nyalore plan to film electric cooking demonstrations and discussions, employ a community influencer or leader to draw people in, thus educating a large population.

Women’s Awareness Centre Nepal (WACN) – Accelerating the uptake of EPCs in Nepal through Creating a Sustainable Supply Chain and Demand Stimulation

Project Description:  Firewood is the main cooking fuel in 52.4% of Nepalese households, and around 33.1% of households in Nepal use LPG (CBS, 2017). Adoption of LPG is higher in urban households (54.1%) compared to rural households (16.5%) however, LPG is imported cooking fuel. 

Nepal has an estimated 43 GW economically viable hydropower potential, with an installed electricity generation capacity of 2150 MW (primarily hydropower) and a peak power demand of about 1500 MW. With increasing electricity production and electrification, the Government of Nepal (GoN) is committed to promoting electricity as local clean cooking fuel.

Community-scale pilot studies in Nepal, carried out under the MECS-ECO program have found efficient EPC fit the cultural cooking processes. However, barriers were identified to scaling uptake of e-cooking appliances in Nepal, ranging from the weak supply chain, unavailability of timely repair and maintenance services, lack of consumer awareness and confidence, high appliance upfront costs, and electricity reliability problems in some locations.  Given the higher reliance on imported LPG for clean cooking and expected electricity surplus capacity in Nepal, the proposed study aims to accelerate the uptake of EPCs in urban/peri-urban locations through mainstreaming the local financial institutions (SACCOs) in creating a sustainable supply chain and by jump-starting EPCs demand through improved availability of consumer finance.