A new cooking technology has reduced the fuel and time spent cooking food in most households in the country

Workers at the Burn Manufacturing Company in Ruiru. The  savings from using less fuel could be channeled to other income generating activities. PHOTO: ANDREW KILONZI/STANDADRD]


Nairobi, Kenya: A new cooking technology has reduced the fuel and time spent cooking food in most households in the country. The Burn Manufacturing Company’s Jikokoa uses 45 per cent less fuel.

This will reduce the rising demand for charcoal and firewood, where families spend a sizeable household budget on energy, dimming prospects of increased savings. “The technology reduces the amount of charcoal and as a consequence, the household expenditure on energy,” says Boston Nyer, the chief product manager at the Ruiru based company.

Income-generating activities

He believes that by cutting down on the energy costs, families can save and invest the rest into other income-generating activities. “About 50 per cent of the household budget is spent on charcoal and the adoption of the same will ensure that they channel the savings to income generating activities.”

“Through heat retention, technology reduces the time spent cooking by about 50 per cent and this frees women the numerous hours they spend in the kitchen.” “Women who spend a lot of time in the kitchen amid smoke emissions will use the saved time in other activities such as private studies and empower themselves,” he reckons. Compared to the ceramic or metal cooking stoves, the Jikokoa will reduce smoke emissions by 61 per cent and contribute towards healthy living standards. In 2014, it is estimated that more than 28,000 lives will be lost due to household smoke.

Statistics indicate that about 70 per cent of households in urban areas use charcoal and this will assist them cut down on their expenditure on charcoal. During the factory launch, Burn Chief Executive Peter Scott said the technology will help save lives as well as forests  currently threatened by the burning of biomass in traditional fires and stoves. 

“Not only is use of biomass in cooking killing people, it is also depleting forests, contributing to the reduction of national forest cover to only 1.7 per cent,” he stated.

The Sh500 million biomass cook stove manufacturing factory, which opened its doors in Kenya from September last year, currently manufactures about 300 units a day and aims to produce 3.7 million fuel efficient wood and charcoal cook stoves in the next ten years. He said they have in the last one month sold over 2,000 pieces and the outlook is promising.

 “Once we establish efficient distribution channels, we will increase our sales as the demand for the technology is increasing,” he said.  “We are working on a system that will enable us get the raw materials locally and this will create jobs and wealth for the economy,” Nyer noted.

 It is also is expected to create more than 300 sustainable manufacturing and distribution jobs for Kenyans.

 The stoves retail at Sh3600.  If adopted, the technology will save households up to Sh34,000 a year in reduced charcoal expenditure and by extension save the economy more than Sh120 billion within the next ten years.

The investment by Burn Manufacturing Company in partnership with General Electric Africa, US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, US State Department Global Partnership Initiatives and the Global Alliance involves assembling the pieces locally in the first stage.

The company is currently using Naivas, Nakumatt and Ukwala as a distribution point for the stoves, and Equity Bank where those interested can get a loan to buy one.