Author(s): Schlag, N., Zuzarte, F.
In: Schlag, N. and F. Zuzarte (2008). Market Barriers to Clean Cooking Fuels in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Literature. Stockholm: SEI. Working Paper.
Type: Working paper
Link to SEI author(s):
Market Barriers to Clean Cooking Fuels in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Literature
This working paper assesses the full range of modern-fuel alternatives, and discusses the main market barriers - which are economic, social and political - to their uptake.
In the developing nations of sub-Saharan Africa, providing households with modern energy services is a critical step towards development. A large majority of households in the region rely on traditional biomass fuels for cooking, which represent a significant proportion of energy used in the domestic setting.
The disadvantages of these fuels are many: they are inefficient energy carriers and their heat is difficult to control; they produce dangerous emissions; and their current rate of extraction is not sustainable for forests. Transition to clean cooking fuels such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or ethanol would resolve many of these issues as they do not produce dangerous particulate emissions, and are commercially viable, offering a number of socio-economic advantages over traditional options.
Despite the benefits of fuel switching, clean cooking fuels are rarely used in households in sub-Saharan Africa. Their failure to attain widespread use can be attributed to a number of market barriers. One of the major issues is cost: clean cooking fuels are prohibitively expensive for many households, and the high price of compatible stoves further discourages their use.
Besides the expense, many consumers are hesitant to adopt the new technology, reflecting the lack of public awareness of the relevant issues. At the same time, Africa’s underdeveloped infrastructure prevents these fuels from being made available in many local marketplaces. To date, this combination of factors has largely stifled the transitionto clean cooking fuels.
National governments can adopt a number of strategies to address these issues. The creation of clean cooking-fuel initiatives at the national level would be an important first step, after which governments can begin to address the issues more effectively.
The introduction of relevant financial instruments would help to tackle the economic barriers to clean cooking fuels, and public outreach and education could overcome socio-cultural obstacles. Through such a policy framework, national governments can play a significant role in encouraging the transition to clean cooking fuels.