June 19, 2024

AfDB set aside $2bn for access to clean cooking in Africa

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Ilenre Irele

The African Development Bank Group committed $2 billion over 10 years towards realization of clean cooking solutions in Africa—a major stride to saving the lives of 600,000 mainly women and children each year.

Speaking at a milestone summit on Clean Cooking in Africa which took place Thursday in Paris, the Bank Group’s President Dr Akinwumi Adesina, said the institution would now commit 20 per cent of all its financing of energy projects towards promoting safe alternatives to cooking with charcoal, wood and biomass.

Receiving heads of state and government, and leaders of international organizations at the Elysee Palace to discuss the outcomes of the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron, praised the African Development Bank’s leading role and commitment to delivering clean cooking in Africa. The summit resulted in $2.2 billion pledges from the public and private sectors.

“As part of the Paris Pact for People and the Planet, and with the commitment of Tanzania, Norway, the International Energy Agency, the African Development Bank, and many other partners, we are taking a step forward against this silent scourge today. We are mobilizing $2.2 billion to provide clean alternatives to populations in Africa,” Macron said. “France pledges to invest €100 million over five years in clean cooking methods and will mobilize even more through the Paris Pact for People and the Planet and Finance in Common.”

Addressing the summit plenary yesterday, the African Development Bank President noted that in Africa a staggering 1.2 billion people lack access to clean cooking facilities.

The Summit was cochaired by United Republic of Tanzania President Dr. Samia Suluhu Hassan, Norway Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, and the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency Dr. Fatih Birol.

In his passionate address, Adesina declared that it was time to end the sight of African women and girls, backs bent bearing heavy loads, walking kilometres each day, often with a lack of security just to cook daily family meals. He noted that the tools for enabling clean cooking access are readily available and affordable but had not been sufficiently prioritised.

“As a result over 10 years, six million people, mainly women, will die prematurely. That is not acceptable,” he told the summit attended by some 20 African heads of state and government, representatives of all leading international organisations and global businesses.

“Access to clean cooking is about more than cooking, it is about dignity… It is more than about lighting a stove, it is about life itself. It is about fairness, justice and equity for women,” Adesina said, recalling how as a youth he had damaged his own eyesight blowing into smoking wooden fires and how a friend had died in a kerosene-related explosion.

Worldwide, the lack of access to clean cooking affects over two billion people—more than half of whom are in Africa, typically cooking over open fires and basic stoves. Using charcoal, wood, agricultural waste, and animal dung as fuel, they inhale harmful toxic fumes and smoke with dire consequences for health.

It is the second leading cause of premature death in Africa. Opportunities for education, employment and independence are also severely impacted because women instead spend hours each day foraging for rudimentary fuels.

“This momentous summit on clean cooking in Africa is the largest ever gathering of leaders and policy makers dedicated to confronting the issue of access to clean cooking in Africa. We can fix it,” Adesina added. “There is nothing improved in continued suffering. No woman in Africa should have to cook again with firewood, charcoal or biomass. It is time to restore dignity to women who cook in Africa.”

The Bank’s pledge of $200 million per year represents an important contribution to the $4 billion per year needed to allow African families to have access to clean cooking by 2030.

In addition to its dramatic toll on human lives, the lack of clean cooking facilities is one of the main causes of deforestation in Africa.

International Energy Agency figures show that globally 200 million hectares of forest, 110 million of them in Africa, were at risk because of the climatic effects of cooking with charcoal, biomass, and wood. “Providing access to clean cooking is not only right, fair and just—it is also the globally responsible thing to do,” Adesina said in his address to the Summit plenary session.

Adesina hailed the event in which close to 60 countries took part, with over 1,000 delegates in attendance, as a major turning point on an issue which had gone too long unaddressed.

He added that commitments announced at the summit go beyond the money alone—they set out concrete steps on how governments, institutions and the private sector can work together to solve the clean cooking challenge this decade.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania told the gathering that successfully advancing the clean cooking agenda in Africa would contribute towards protecting the environment, climate, health, and ensuring gender equality.

“This summit underscores our commitment to advancing this agenda and providing a framework towards universal adoption of clean cooking fuels and technologies across the continent,” she said.

President Suluhu launched during COP28 a national program to solve this challenge in Tanzania, and in other parts of Africa, with the African Women Clean Cooking Support Program.

She made a strong call to the global community to ensure a bold replenishment of the next three-year cycle of the African Development Bank Group’s concessional window, the African Development Fund. “To guarantee resources for clean cooking, this summit has to call for a generous next replenishment of the African Development Fund that includes $12 billion for clean cooking,” President Suluhu urged.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway said: “Improving access to clean cooking is about improving health outcomes, reducing emissions, and creating opportunities for economic growth. With today’s summit, we have mobilized much needed support, and built a diverse partnership that together can make a real difference. Norway is a steadfast supporter of clean cooking, and I was pleased to announce today that we are committed to investing approximately $50 million in this important cause.”

“This summit has delivered an emphatic commitment to an issue that has been ignored by too many people, for too long. We still have a long way to go, but the outcome of this summit, $2.2 billion committed, can help support fundamental rights such as health, gender equality and education while also reducing emissions and restoring forests,” IEA Executive Director Birol declared.

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