Efficiency for Access Hosts Technical Roundtable at the Modern Energy Cooking Services Launch in East Africa

The Modern Energy Cooking Services programme aims to break out of business-as-usual approaches and rapidly accelerate the transition from biomass to clean cooking on a global scale.

On 14 May, the Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) programme held a launch event at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. The £39.8 million MECS programme, run by Loughborough University and ESMAP of the World Bank, aims to break out of business-as-usual approaches and rapidly accelerate the transition from biomass to clean cooking on a global scale. The launch brought together key regional stakeholders to discuss potential opportunities to partner with the MECS program in East Africa.

MECS East Africa Launch
Dr. Jon Leary of Loughborough University delivers opening remarks at the MECS launch in Nairobi, Kenya

The African Sustainability Hub within the African Centre for Technology Studies organized the event, and Professor Tom Ogada delivered opening remarks. Over 60 participants in attendance came from multilateral organizations, energy focused non-governmental organizations, government agencies, academia, and the private sector.

Currently, 1.8 billion people have access to electricity but still cook with biomass. Biomass cooking not only causes harmful environmental impacts, but also results in poor health outcomes. In Kenya alone, an estimated 20,000 people per year die from illness attributed to poor indoor air quality. Load shedding, weak grids, availability of liquid petroleum gas, tradition, perceptions, and a lack of suitable cooking appliances all act as barriers to scaling up the use of electricity or gas for cooking—clean cooking. In their introductory remarks, the MECS team summarized the issue, stating, “cooking is highly cultural.”

The launch explored the unique opportunities and challenges for electric cooking solutions in four national contexts, the crossover between electrification and clean cooking spheres, and MECS’ role in existing regional activities.

Following the MECS launch event, CLASP and Energy Saving Trust (EST), representing the Efficiency for Access Coalition, co-hosted a technical roundtable to explore the potential market for electric pressure-cooking in sub-Saharan Africa.

MECS East Africa Launch
CLASP’s Africa Team Lead Sam Grant demonstrates e-cooking techniques to event participants

At the roundtable, CLASP and EST facilitated breakout sessions on various themes pertaining to electric pressure cooker success in East Africa. Breakout sessions included: consumer & market intelligence; research, design & development; testing & quality; policy environment, distribution, warranty, and service; financing, business models, & applications; behavioral change; and safety.

Moving forward, MECS will work closely with the Efficiency for Access Coalition to support e-cooking initiatives in East Africa. We look forward to fostering close collaboration as we collectively work towards improving the cooking experience for off- and weak-grid households.