State Department for Energy, Principal Secretary Mr. Alex Wachira has revealed plans by the state to pilot clean energy cooking in all 47 counties.
Wachira said that the aim of the initiative, which will be rolled out in the first quarter of 2023, will be to shift Kenyans from the heavy use of biomass fuel for cooking to cleaner and more energy efficient fuel sources.
“We are launching clean energy cooking as a way of moving from cutting down trees for fuel. This will also conserve our trees and ensure that they grow to maturity,” the PS explained.
Wachira said the initiative will involve the distribution of refillable cylinders containing the clean cooking fuel alternative. Additionally, he mooted plans by the ministry to champion domestic use of electricity for cooking.
He said the Ministry was working on a plan to bring down the overall cost of electricity and as a way of encouraging its use for cooking, adding his department was exploring the options of setting a special tariff to encourage domestic consumption.
“The main issue is that 70 per cent of our cooking fuel is biomass; charcoal and firewood. The only way we can reduce this is by introducing clean energy then gradually also introduce cooking using electricity and this will in turn make the cost of electricity go down,” said Wachira.
The PS was speaking in Nyeri County during the launch of the national tree planting at the Muringato Forest in Kieni-East in support of the state’s plan to plant 15 billion trees by 2032.
During the exercise, Wachira, who was accompanied by the PS for State Department for Performance and Delivery Management, Esther Ngero, Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga among a host of Nyeri legislators, led Kieni residents in planting 6,000 tree seedlings.
The Ministry of Energy and Petroleum in 2021 adopted 150 hectares of Muringato Forest Station for rehabilitation. So far, the 160,000 indigenous and exotic tree seedlings accounting for over 70 per cent of the targeted area have been planted with the help of the Muringato Community Forest Association (CFAs).
“Our target is to plant 400,000 seedlings in the Hombe forest in Mt Kenya, Tana River and Maasai Mara. The ministry will purchase the seedlings from the CFAs before the long rains and I therefore urge them to start propagating the seedlings such that they will be ready upon demand,” stated the PS.
On carbon trade, the Energy PS said that the recent push by the government to increase the tree cover had placed the country in a strategic spot to benefit from the trade.
He challenged the youth working in the CFAs to focus on promoting and protecting the natural environment which he said were integral to climate action. This, he said would make them noticeable to major carbon credit traders.
“The more we have good forest cover, the more we are going to benefit from carbon trading. It’s time for the CFAs to start thinking about how they can start benefiting from carbon trading before foreigners come to benefit from our conservation efforts,” said Wachira.
By Wangari Mwangi and Kiama Wamutitu