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  • Writer's pictureNorCham Washington DC

Advancing Clean Cooking in Africa: A Summit for Change

Updated: Jun 21

The International Energy Agency (IEA) convened global leaders in Paris this May for the Clean Cooking Summit, aiming to make 2024 a pivotal year in ensuring clean cooking access for all. Norway recognized the need for increased efforts and greater attention to this critical issue. Consequently, a follow-up event was held at the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., co-hosted with the Tanzanian Embassy and the Clean Cooking Alliance. This event gathered distinguished leaders and stakeholders to further the cause.

In her introductory remarks, Ambassador Anniken Krutnes, recognized NorCham's initial support, led by Chairman Idar Voldnes, and said it played a crucial role in fostering these discussions. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre's strong endorsement of the initiative was helpful in its success. As Ambassador Krutnes noted in her remarks, the collaboration between Norway and Tanzania brought the clean cooking agenda here to Washington, D.C., highlighting the importance of collective action.

The Global Context: A Health and Environmental Crisis

According to the International Energy Agency, approximately 2.3 billion people worldwide still cook their meals using open fires or basic stoves, exposing them to harmful smoke from solid fuels like coal, charcoal, firewood, and agricultural waste. This smoke contributes to 3.7 million premature deaths annually, disproportionately affecting women and children who are primarily responsible for meal preparation. Also the health of nature is being damaged when large amounts of people are cutting down trees to use for traditional cooking, fueling the unsustainable rates of deforestation in many countries. Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, emphasized that solving this problem requires financial resources and effective policies, not new technology.

Keynote Addresses and Announcements

In Paris, Prime Minister Støre announced an investment of $50 million US dollars to clean cooking initiatives in Africa. Ambassador Krutnes talked about how this funding underscores Norway's long-standing support for sustainable energy solutions and its strategic partnership with African nations in promoting clean cooking.

Her Excellency, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of Tanzania, highlighted the critical need for clean cooking solutions in her country, where 90% of households still rely on biomass energy. The President have launched the African Women Clean Cooking Support Program, aiming to empower women economically, promote the adoption of clean cooking technologies, and create platforms for regional cooperation and knowledge exchange.

Panel Discussions: Insights and Innovations

Dymphna van der Lans, CEO of the Clean Cooking Alliance, outlined three critical messages for global leaders: the urgency of transforming the clean cooking sector, the intersection of clean cooking with pressing global issues like gender equality and climate change, and the necessity of robust support for clean cooking companies and carbon markets.

Joseph Nganga, CEO of the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, emphasized the importance of electrification in driving clean cooking solutions. He shared a personal anecdote about how his grandmother cooked in her home with charcoal and how the tea she always served would have this smoked taste. Mr. Nganga used this anecdote to make us understand how cooking is embedded in the culture of these people and places, but also illustrate the profound health impacts of traditional cooking methods. He stressed the need for scalable, collaborative efforts to bring clean cooking technologies to rural communities.

A Call to Action

The Clean Cooking in Africa event concluded with a resounding call to action. Over $2 billion US dollars has already been commitment from governments, private sectors, and international organizations, highlighting a significant milestone in the push for clean cooking solutions globally. However, as many speakers emphasized, the real challenge lies in translating these pledges into concrete projects that directly benefit the households most in need.

All the speakers today emphasized the critical role of strategic partnerships and sustained financial support. Her Excellency, Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan and Princess Mary of Denmark, both echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of empowering women and leveraging local entrepreneurs to drive the adoption of clean cooking technologies.

The event made it clear that this is a solvable issue. The necessary funding is available, the technology exists, and the knowledge to implement these solutions effectively is within reach. The focus now must shift to action and execution. As Dymphna van der Lans highlighted, the key is in the implementation—ensuring that resources are directed where they are needed most and that local communities are equipped and empowered to sustain these solutions.

The collaboration between Norway and Tanzania, showed us a how how all partners are commitment to this critical mission. Together with all global partners, we can foster innovative partnerships, supporting local initiatives, and leveraging both financial and policy resources, it will be possible to make clean cooking a reality for all, leading to healthier lives, empowered communities, and a sustainable future.

Photos: The Norwegian Embassy

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