The following partners joined the Alliance between December 17, 2015 and January 22, 2016.
Organizations directly involved in the implementation of clean cooking solutions, which may include design, manufacture, distribution, marketing, or sale of cookstoves or fuels by the private sector, NGOs, humanitarian groups, etc.
Organizations that provide professional services to other clean cooking implementers, which may include research, testing, capacity building, business support, etc.
Those who support the Alliance’s mission and goals, but do not directly implement clean cooking solutions or provide professional services to implementers. This may include organizations active in related fields, investors, faith-based charities, advocacy groups, or interested individuals.
As we head towards the 2016 general elections, a number of issues and non-issues seem to be flying around none so eye-catching from a media perspective than the People’s Manifesto highlights currently running in the New Vision.
Of great interest to me has so far been the Monday, October 26, 2015 highlight on the existing energy challenge in the country. Most captivating in the article was the sub-heading “What next after firewood and charcoal?” It certainly caught the editor’s eye that he had to express his fears in the October 28, 2015 opinion titled “Take action on charcoal and firewood crisis” and rightly so.
For once the “silent crisis” of cooking energy in this country seems to have started popping up stealthily into the open public arena. Thus far whenever the issue of energy crisis has come up in any forum in this country, it has all been about the electricity shortage crisis or the campaign to scale its usage across the country. I am totally in support of the hydro energy concerns in addressing the industrial and people’s needs. About 93% of Ugandans survive on wood and charcoal for their cooking needs, while 1% can afford liquid petroleum gas.
In a modern society, wood and charcoal, which are classified as biomass energies, are supposed to be preserved by the state and the citizens as well as environmental conservationists. It is the reason the annual Global Earth summit is such a hit across the globe and the very reason the 17 newly passed United Nations Social Development Goals (SDG’s) 2030 have assigned “GOAL 7: To ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.
Biomass energy is a traditional form of energy which is crude and detrimental to the environment and health. Modern energies predominantly include electricity and gas. Why is no one talking about cooking gas to help transform our society into the middle income nation? And yet lying silent somewhere deep in the grounds of a remote village in Hoima is an oil resource (which includes associated gas) which the Lord has blessed us with to save the fast approaching fate of our nation should we exhaust the little remaining biomass without replenishment as the case is today. Instead we are predominantly dreaming of flyovers and skyscrapers from the oil revenues with little attention focused on the gas resource if the NDP 2040 plan is anything to go by. The focus for the gas is to generate electricity with all its challenges and slow uptake, as well as probably processing iron ore. Cooking gas hardly gets a mention aside of some unsubstantiated rhetoric about a regional depot beyond which there is no clear plan of how the resource will be exploited and scaled for the vast majority of the poor masses.
The wood and charcoal crisis is real yet the country has been hoodwinked to buy into the idea of “clean cooking stoves”, which still use charcoal and in some instances also use scarce briquettes as one of the solutions being advanced. The biogas alternative is also catching up. Long term research into harnessing nuclear and solar energy is also on the card. This is much appreciated, but chances of a mass serving solution arriving before the wood stock runs out are certainly most remote. The solution lies in the biogas.
Uganda has come from 10.8 million hectares of tree cover in 1890 covering 45% of the country’s land area to 4.9 million hectares of trees in 2010 which only covered 20% of the land area. Latest figures are putting the tree percentage cover of the land to about 15% and falling as the population spirals up and no serious replanting initiatives are being undertaken. The annual cost of our lost biomass is estimated at approx. sh2.5 trillion per year. It took Eritrea a much shorter time to come from 38% tree cover to present day 1.8% cover and everybody there is looking for gas. Same as it happened in Senegal in 1974 and other countries.
Has it ever bothered you as to why a baby born in Kaberamaido, for example, and another born on the same day in an upscale Kampala hospital turn out with extremely different weights and health conditions yet they are all having the same milk from their mother’s breasts? To put it graphically, the inner body organs and fluids of the Kaberamaido mother were filled with inhaled indoor cooking smoke at conception of her baby. Hence her baby turns out to be of “poor quality” as opposed to the Kampala born baby. And the same baby will be ushered into the world of smoke in their mother’s kitchen and may turn out to be one the statistics which do the rounds in health world of 30,000 kids who die annually in Uganda due to pneumonia and other respiratory health diseases, which are partly caused by indoor air pollution. But the poor citizens living in these conditions cannot connect these facts to their living conditions provided that they can sleep and wake the next day with or without a minor cough. This is what experts have come to describe as energy poverty! It is a disease of the mind.
Meanwhile, the disadvantaged citizens in towns do not also know that they are suffering from what experts have come to term as “food stress”, the condition of being stressed from constantly having to fend for food and its cooking accessories (charcoal etc) as a key focus of their daily life from January to December. Stressed minds in their frustration tend to exaggerate any other problems surrounding them or their societies and hence become easy recruits to negative dispensations. You can’t talk of a drive to a middle income nation when the real energy challenge has not been addressed. Clearly we need a solution fast, and one of the big ones is gas!
The Western world is peacefully and predominantly wired to and surviving on gas. Gas usage has a tendency to free off one’s mind to focus on more progressive innovations and other exploits of the world which is the cornerstone of modernisation. While the West focuses on natural gas, middle income and forward looking developing nations are aggressively taking onto gas. 90% of the population in Brazil use gas, 80% in Indonesia, 50% in India, 25% in Ghana, 18% in Senegal (70% urban), and Kenya is drawing aggressive plans to hit 18% by 2020.
The perception that gas is for the rich and dangerous is just a myths. The same used to be said about mobile phones.
A recent convention in Cape Town unearthed a multitude of options on how countries have or can position and promote gas as an alternative fuel.
Read from the New Vision
Recently there was an acute outage of LPG in East Africa. This was due to delayed berthing of an LPG tanker at the Mombasa Port. Even when a batch was eventually delivered, it was found to be wanting in terms of quality with reports of considerable volume of water in the main product which hence had to be rejected.
Such delays if even for just a couple of days potentially cause mayhem in the region simply because the region’s LPG storage capacity is extremely low as compared to the demand. Because of the small storage including at the landing port in Mombasa, only small marine tankers of less than 10,000 Tons capacity are delivered to the region and yet consumption volumes though comparatively still low are at just above 100,000 Tons Kenya and Uganda included. Uganda’s combined storage which is owned by the few LPG industry players is about 500 Tons in total, while in Kenya it is about 10,000 Tons all players combined.With the Kenya market consuming approx. 100,000 tons per month which is over 10 times the volume of Uganda, whenever a delayed ship arrival is encountered, Kenyan companies which traditionally only send “surplus” LPG to their Ugandan partners and counterparts will give themselves first priority when a new ship offloads before thinking of dispatching product to Uganda. Hence a week’s outage in Kenya will mean nearly a month’s outage in Uganda. The situation in Uganda only normalizes after the Kenyan backlog demand has been fairly contained. Fortunately for Uganda, the recent oil discovery came with the opportunity to exploit unassociated gas and process it into LPG to substantially save the local supply challenges. A local Uganda refinery is also on card to commence production hopefully by 2020 or thereabout, and this will only help matters more. The only challenge at the moment is that government is not yet keen or aware of this grand opportunity as the current focus in mainly on gas processing for electricity and iron ore production.