Ministry outlines agenda of Clean Cooking Conference

Energy minister January Makamba (centre) briefs journalists about the Clean Cooking Conference slated for November, this year in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Left is Rural Energy Agency director general Hassan Saidy right is pulmonologist from Muhimbili National Hospital Pauline Chale. PHOTO I SUNDAY GEORGE

What you need to know:

  • Tanzania is currently one of the lowest in the world in terms of clean energy use at between 4-5 percent. Our goal is to raise that to 80 percent in 10 years.

Dar es Salaam. A two-day Clean Cooking Conference slated for November is set to address barriers to and increase the penetration of modern cooking solutions.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan is scheduled to grace the event in Dar es Salaam where policymakers, development partners, entrepreneurs, investors, donors, experts and the general public will seek to come up with what Tanzania needs to do to adopt clean cooking energy and reverse a worrying trend of deaths emanating from respiratory diseases associated with firewood smoke.

Briefing journalists yesterday, Energy minister January Makamba said currently, 63.5 percent of Tanzania’s households use firewood as the main source of cooking energy while 26.2 percent use charcoal.

The remaining share, according to him, comprises 5.1 percent who use liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and three percent who use electricity.

The remaining 2.2 percent of households use energy sources that are classified as others.

“Tanzania is currently one of the lowest in the world in terms of clean energy use at between 4-5 percent. Our goal is to raise that to 80 percent in 10 years,” observed Mr Makamba, exuding confidence that the target was achievable.

The use of biomass fuels for cooking, he said, was a triggering factor for acute health problems including respiratory infections, chronic pulmonary diseases, and perinatal and infant mortality.

A pulmonologist (expert in respiratory-related diseases) from the Muhimbili National Hospital, Dr Pauline Chale, said between 30,000 and 45,000 people die prematurely every year in Tanzania from illnesses attributable to household air pollution.

Women and children, she said, were the vulnerable groups in this case.

“We treat patients affected by the use of firewood and charcoal in what we call the biomass fuel effect,” said Dr Chale, noting that since they get treated for a long term, they also consume more resources that could have been used to treat other patients.

A move to more clean energy use for cooking is not only part of Tanzania’s national obligation as per Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7, but also the National Energy Policy of 2015.

The policy directs the government to enable equal access to safe, affordable and modern energy for cooking.

Official data have it that the government has in this financial year set aside Sh500 million to facilitate more rapid adoption of clean and reliable energy.

In the upcoming conference, panelists from both the public and private sectors will discuss about the state of cooking in Tanzania, share lessons, experiences, and opportunities influencing clean cooking solutions.

They will also explore policy, legal, regulatory, fiscal, and technological interventions to tackle the clean cooking challenges.

The conference, according to the briefing, is also expected to foster closer collaboration among stakeholders.

Such a move, the briefing added, would have positive outcomes in people’s health, their economy and welfare.

It added that such a shift would translate into new business and employment opportunities and would empower women to participate more fully in development activities.

Rural Energy Agency (Rea) director general Hassan Saidy said the agency had a responsibility to ensure that all Tanzanians were able to access clean and safe energy.

“In collaboration with health experts, we are planning to launch the awareness campaign meant to promote the use of clean cooking energy,” said Mr Saidy.

The use of firewood and charcoal was also raising desertification concerns, with available data showing that over 60 percent of Tanzania’s land mass was quickly losing its vegetation cover.

Literature shows that apart from firewood and charcoal, other human economic activities mainly farming and livestock keeping, have seen Tanzania losing thousands of acres of forests per year.

The Energy Policy 2015 shows that wood fuel is not only used by households but also by institutions like schools and prisons and agro-processing industries .