OPINION: Light at the end of the charcoal tunnel?

Tuesday May 14 2019

Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and

Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and communications consultant with Midas Touché East Africa 

By Kasera Nick Oyoo

These are interesting times. Climate change is real – and the recent incidents of tropical cyclones ‘Idai’ and ‘Kenneth’ causing death and destruction in southern Tanzania and neighbouring countries were living examples.

That’s climate change for you – partly resulting from wanton tree-felling for firewood and charcoal.

Day and night, lorries ply Morogoro, Kilwa and Bagamoyo roads ferrying wood charcoal to Dar es Salaam from upcountry where forests are being decimated for wood fuel.

Recently, Environment Minister January Makamba revealed that trials are underway to replace household use of wood fuel with gas. If this takes hold, it would save the environment from destruction – thus holding back disastrous climate change.

“In this pilot project,” Mr Makamba said, a gas user fixes a gadget on a gas tank to monitor the amount of gas used, and the cost of the gas through mobile-money transactions. This is helpful for people who can’t afford huge amounts of home-cooking gas.”

The Environment minister says the President John Magufuli Administration is determined to end dependency on firewood and charcoal for cooking. This is in line with the UN-backed Sustainable Development Goals 2030. To that end, over 20 companies have been licensed to operate in this area.

It is against this back ground that the Sixth Africa LPG Summit 2019 will be held at the Mlimani City Conference Centre in Dar es Salaam on July 3 and 4.

The event brings to Tanzania over 700 delegates who are LPG industry stakeholders to dialogue on climate change factors.

These include – but aren’t limited to – desertification, rising populations, behavioural change, environmental protection, economic empowerment of women, and the role of LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) in all that, with skills transfer and knowledge-sharing as key drivers to a better world.

The conference – whose key sponsor is Oryx Gas – will also discuss how to best harness the opportunities that arise within Tanzanian communities, and ensure sustainable socioeconomic development for all citizens.

During the conference, a special ‘Cooking for Life’ workshop will be conducted, led by Michael Kelly, deputy director of the World LPG Association (WLPGA) that is headquartered in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France.

‘Cooking for Life’ is the association’s flagship initiative in terms of development. The goal is to convert one billion people from cooking with biomass to cooking with LPG by 2030.

“I think it is timely for the LPG Summit to go back to Dar es Salaam to help promote the benefits of clean-burning LPG for environmental and health reasons,” Mr Kelly said – adding that “communities, governments, the global and local LPG industry, working together to ensure viable economic growth, is key to growing the industry and promoting the benefits of using this exceptional fuel.”

The Sixth Africa LPG Summit 2019 seeks to spread far and wide the use of LPG at a time when it has become economically-sensible for users who are still using traditional fuels to switch over to LPG.

The benefits of using LPG have far-reaching implications. Indeed, LPG has the potential to save the lives of millions and improve the quality of life of many millions more, thereby causing ripples that will benefit future generations like few other lifestyle changes can.

The LPG Summit will also promote the use of fuel for cooking, heating and power generation.

LPG is the fuel of choice in emerging markets and this year’s LPG Summit is the platform that will bring peoples, the governments and businesses together as Africa enters a new phase of development like never before.

Commenting on the matter, the acting executive director of the Petroleum Bulk Procurement Agency in Tanzania, Mr Erasto S. Mulokozi, said “we are very pleased to endorse the 6th Africa LPG Summit, and are looking forward to meeting with local and global LPG industry operators to discuss key challenges and opportunities in the sector.”

Mr Mulokozi also revealed that officials from the Tanzania government ministry of Energy and Environment have also been invited to the event.