Kenya's Ministry of Energy unveils bioenergy strategy

Energy CS Charles Keter

The government has launched a bioenergy strategy (2020-2027) placing the country on track in meeting clean cooking targets by 2028.

The plan aims at providing investors with information on viable opportunities for bioenergy development and promotes sustainable production and consumption of bioenergy with attendant human health, economic, and environmental benefits.

It also seeks to accelerate the transition to clean cooking technologies and fuels and serve as a framework for regional cooperation and trade in bioenergy and related feedstock as called for by the Africa Bioenergy Policy Framework and Guidelines (African Union & UNECA).

The strategy was developed with support from the World Bank who commended the government’s commitment to attaining energy access goals given that the Ministry earlier in the year also launched the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy, and in 2019 launched the Gender Energy Policy.

GiZ and ICRAF also supported the process, with the former indicating that they would be supporting the implementation of the strategy by meeting the targets set for clean cooking.

“The bioenergy strategy sets forth guidelines, approaches, and strategic interventions to promote the development and sustainable utilisation of bioenergy resources in Kenya over the 2020-2027 period.”

To achieve the set objectives, the strategy identifies a delivery and coordination mechanism to oversee implementation of the strategy, including clear private sector involvement, recognition of adaptive planning and multi-stakeholder consultations around innovation platforms, and strong role of learning and feedback as key features.

According to the Ministry of Energy, Kenya currently is dependent on biomass energy which provides 68 per cent of the total energy supply. The development of the Strategy is a step as we enter the final decade of achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs) that include access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all by 2030 (SDG 7).

Secondly, the Strategy is being launched at a time when the world is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic and is turning its attention to health concerns attributed to cooking both at household and institutional levels. It rightfully recognizes that Household Air Pollution (HAP) from continued use of charcoal, firewood, and other unprocessed solid biomass fuels (e.g. crop residues) burnt in inefficient cookstoves and poorly ventilated kitchens has been associated with respiratory diseases.

According to Kenya’s Ministry of Health, these diseases make up 25 per cent of the total disease burden in Kenya. HAP also increases the vulnerability of households to Covid-19. Advancing access to clean cooking technologies and fuels is an important precursor of preventive health services.

ACCESS regional node for East Africa-Kenya Climate change Working Group (KCCWG)-will work closely with the government and other stakeholders in Kenya to support the implementation of the Strategy. ACCESS Coalition and KCCWG will ensure the voices of Civil society organizations (CSOs) are heard by championing the need for clear and consultative stakeholder involvement to harness the views, experiences, and expertise of both energy-poor communities and experts to support the implementation of the strategy.

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