Energy-efficient cookstoves for people and planet

Dec 2, 2016

The Ministry of Energy with support from the Groupe Energies Renouvelables, Environnement et Solidarités (GERES), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) organised a StovePlus Academy in Freetown, bringing together entrepreneurs from 13 African countries to share knowledge and experiences.

The Stoveplus Academy was organised as part of a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-funded project on energy efficient production and utilization of charcoal through innovative technologies and private sector involvement.

The goal of the project is to bring economic, social and environmental benefits through the production of certified charcoal from sustainably sourced feedstock and through the promotion of improved cookstoves to reduce fuel wood demand, improve health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Most households in Sierra Leone use charcoal for cooking. The Cookstove Academy supports small business owners to produce improved stoves that are more energy efficient, and empowers them with skills and knowledge to upscale their businesses.   

Ibrahim N’Jai, one of the Sierra Leonean participants of the Academy travelled to Kenya 30 years ago where he bought an improved charcoal cookstove. He liked the stove so much that he decided to start producing and distributing it with a brand name ‘Wonder Stove’ in Sierra Leone as well.

In 2012, his son Tapsir took over his fathers’ business. Since then, Tapsir has further developed the brand and they now sell a variety of cookstoves for households and industries. “Using a more efficient cookstove, and better charcoal, can reduce the use of charcoal in the individual cookstove up to 50% - which is good for the environment, people’s health and the wallet”, Tapsir explained. Many entrepreneurs have emerged from the ‘wonder stove’ to design similar cookstoves and set up their own private small scale businesses.

The tone of the cookstove academy was appealing to all the participants from the thirteen countries. “It is now evident that there is no one-fit-all cookstove. The rim of the cookstove should be able to accommodate the type of pot used. So it’s context specific”, said Mohammed KAMARA, Renewable Energy Center – Government Technical Institute, Sierra Leone. The form of the cookstove may change but the functions remain the same. The focus remains on clean and efficient energy production and use. “There is a popular saying that behind every successful man, there is a woman. I may now say that behind an efficient cookstove, there is a fuel”, said Alex KILONG.

There was a renewed interest among cookstove entrepreneurs for skills development in the production and expansion of cookstove business in a sustainable way. Participants had a better understanding that strong cookstove alliance and training systems are necessary to sustain such gains. They also benefited from identification of best practices and core principles of the production and utilization of energy efficient cookstove and kilns; identification of innovative experiences in cookstove and kiln production; and improved learning partnerships and collaborations with other international organizations like Jikko.

The UNDP Project Manager is of the opinion that strengthening the individual and collective capabilities of cookstove entrepreneurs will contribute to fostering new economic opportunities, protecting the environment, reduction in green gas emission, improving the health of women and children in Sierra Leone in particular and the world at large.

UNDP through its Energy, Environment and Natural Resource Management Cluster works in vulnerable communities to reduce the impacts of climate change and risks of natural and man-made disasters in Sierra Leone by reinforcing and supporting institutions and communities to properly prevent or manage natural disasters.


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