At the end of June 2022, Energy 4 Impact and Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS) held a joint launch event in Kigali to present findings from their cooking diaries report to key Rwandan stakeholders. Carried out across 25 households in Kigali over a period of eight weeks, the study recorded people’s traditional cooking practices, tools, fuels and the associated costs, before introducing clean cooking alternatives to observe their comparative performance and perceptions around this new cooking practice.
The study showed a high level of uptake of electric cooking from households that formerly cooked with wood or charcoal as well as high level of ease around cooking common Rwandan dishes on an electric pressure cooker (EPC) or on an infrared stove. Additionally, the results showed that cooking with electricity was very cost competitive at $$0.047 per person per meal as compared to charcoal at $0.068 per person per meal and $0.073 for LPG.
Addressing a critical shortfall in data around clean cooking preferences and practices in Rwanda and providing in-depth evidence that popular Rwandan dishes can be adapted to e-cooking easily and economically, the findings in the cooking diaries report aims to galvanise the public and private sector to promote the widespread adoption of clean cooking.
The research was well-received by representatives from across the energy and finance sectors including Rwanda Energy Group (REG), REG’s Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL), the Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), the World Bank, SIDA, Rwanda Standards Board, Energy Private Developers, Power Africa, and the Africa Energy Services Group. Many attendees acknowledged that research addressed critical gaps in the data and evidence on electric cooking in Rwanda.
Both in-person and online participants had the opportunity to observe a cooking demonstration by EPC distributor Electrocook, who cooked kawunga, a popular bean stew, which reinforced the main findings of the report. The demonstration was followed by a lively debate during which the participants highlighted the need to improve consumer awareness in order to develop the market, the need to shift public policy to create a more enabling environment for clean cooking, and the need to identify and adopt financing and business models that improve the affordability of clean cooking stoves for low-income customers.
Several participants emphasised that raising consumer awareness of the advantages of energy efficient electric cooking appliances over cooking with wood or charcoal will be critical for the development of the currently nascent market of such appliances in Rwanda. Shifting mindsets was deemed as extremely important given the prevailing perception amongst consumers is that e-cooking is too expensive, a misconception disproved by the cooking diaries research.
Whilst the study demonstrates that clean cooking is viable for wider adoption within the Rwandan market, the primary takeaway from the launch is that donors and the private sector need to collaborate more extensively with the government to enable a rapid scale-up of the sector. Energy 4 Impact project coordinator Saulve Divin Ntivunwa comments,
Various initiatives that prioritise clean cooking are currently being put in place in Rwanda. At the launch event, the BRD announced the inclusion of EPCs within the results-based financing initiative for clean cooking funded by the World Bank, which will subsidise purchases of clean and efficient cooking solutions. National utility REG is also creating a Technical Working Group formed of various clean cooking organisations to identify opportunities and overcome challenges that hinder the scaling of the sector.
The Cooking Diary research is not only a vital evidence base for supporting existing initiatives, it also provides a strong case for persuading the Rwandan energy sector and local government to see e-cooking as the key to unlocking electricity demand over the coming years and promoting clean cooking accordingly. Further action is needed to ensure that the Rwandan government address harm to health and the environment by hitting their target of reducing reliance on biomass for cooking to 42% by 2024.