It is estimated that only 1% of Ghanaians currently use electricity as their primary cooking fuel, instead opting for polluting fuels such as charcoal. Cooking with traditional, biomass fuels is not only extremely damaging for the environment but it is also responsible for around four million deaths each year – primarily women and children.
The international research team, Modern Energy Cooking Services (MECS), funded by UK aid (FCDO) and led by Loughborough University, is championing the adoption of electric cooking in the Global South where the use of traditional biomass fuels is still prevalent.
The seven-year £40m MECS programme is working with the World Bank to find innovative and modern cooking alternatives to biomass fuels, that are clean, affordable, reliable, and sustainable. Whilst the research covers several clean fuels, the evidence is pointing to the viability, cost effectiveness, and user satisfaction that energy efficient electric cooking devices provide.
Its new publication – Ghana eCookbook: Exploring Electric Cooking – has been launched today (Tuesday 11 October) at the Clean Cooking Forum 2022. Taking place in Accra from 11-13 October 2022, the Forum brings together global partners to accelerate access to clean cooking, and is being hosted by the Clean Cooking Alliance and the Government of Ghana.
The main purpose of the cookbook is to demonstrate from the real experiences of community members within an informal urban neighbourhood of Accra, the energy, time and cost savings of cooking traditional dishes using energy efficient electric appliances. It aims to answer three key questions:
- Can popular Ghanaian foods be cooked using modern energy efficient devices?
- On a dish-by-dish basis, how much electricity does it consume and how does it compare to primary cooking fuels in urban Ghana (charcoal and LPG)?
- Is it convenient to use electricity for cooking and how does the taste compare?
Loughborough Geography PhD researcher, Steyn Hoogakker, coordinated the production of the cookbook with MECS colleagues and local community members. Speaking about the initiative, he said: “The Ghana eCookbook is the fruit of a long-term engagement with this community, where amazing local chefs have seen the dramatic potential of shifting from cooking with charcoal to using electricity which they found to be up to four times cheaper than using LPG or charcoal.”
MECS lead and Loughborough Professor, Ed Brown, added: “The wonderful thing about this project is its focus on urban informal settlements, as they largely tend to be ignored in discussions of clean cooking. These first steps are being built on via a follow-up project involving the training of local community members in using electricity for cooking and promoting its benefits.
“By exploring the relationship between energy use and cooking we hope that this book can inform cooks on how best to take advantage of the opportunity to cook using electricity in Ghana. All the more since Ghana has a high rate of connectivity (87%), has entered a period of surplus capacity, and has relatively stable provision of electricity.”
Ghana is one of many Global South countries where MECS is active which has a supply of electricity that exceeds demand, highlighting the opportunities that a pivot to eCooking (cooking with electricity) offers in terms of leveraging the investments made in infrastructure improvements.
The Ghana cookbook is the latest in a series of publications by MECS focusing on promoting electric cooking for different countries and their traditional dishes. The full series of cookbooks can be accessed here.
MECS is playing a key part in the Clean Cooking Forum, supporting the Forum as a Silver Partner, hosting and speaking in several sessions and workshops, and hosting a booth with EnDev (Energising Development) featuring pop-up talks, company product demonstrations and networking opportunities. A dedicated webpage which provides further information about the activities and events MECS is hosting or participating in at the Forum is available at: https://mecs.org.uk/join-mecs-at-the-clean-cooking-forum-2022/.
You can register to participate virtually at the Clean Cooking Forum here: https://cleancooking.org/forum2022/registration/
Furter information about the work of MECS can be found here: https://mecs.org.uk/