Clean cooking technologies heating up the workforce in Kenya

In a previous post I shared findings from one of our latest studies, on the direct employment impacts of energy access. In 2019 we conducted a bottom-up survey of decentralized renewable energy companies working in the energy sector in Kenya and Nigeria, to understand job functions, skills needs, employment history and projections. This year, with funding support from Modern Energy for Cooking Services (MECS), we followed this up by expanding the scope of our study, to include jobs from the clean cooking sector.

Indeed, past studies have shown the expansion of clean cooking solutions may have a strong influence on rural employment, especially for women and youth. As compared to off-grid solar, the cook stove sector may have higher rural reach, as the sector requires a local and less-skilled workforce – including masons, metal workers, sales agents and distributors. According to the World Bank, in Kenya, where the rural population is 73% of the total population, delivering clean cooking access may have a strong localized employment impact. But without anything more than anecdotal data, it’s difficult to streamline recommendations on how to unlock that potential. Our goal was to fill this gap.

Clean cooking technology company representatives, distributors, civil society organizations, policy and finance experts participating in our focus group discussion, held at the Strathmore University Business School, February 2020

We launched our clean cooking survey for Kenya in January, in partnership with the Strathmore Energy Research Centre, the Kenya Biogas Program, the Global LPG Partnership, and the Clean Cooking Association of Kenya. The survey focuses on modern clean cooking technologies – including bioethanol, biogas, electric cookers and LPG – and the direct jobs created formally and informally through engagement with such technology providers. We gained context and solicited feedback on our preliminary findings through a series of in-depth expert interviews and our expert focus group discussion held earlier this year.

Discussing preliminary results from the clean cooking job study

We found that the clean cooking sector in Kenya depends on a series of diverse but localized supply chains, which allows the sector to provide many skilled jobs. Some technologies in particular, and certain components of their supply chains are the main job drivers. There are thus major opportunities to grow the workforce through targeted action. We just recently submitted this research for publication. Our findings and recommendations will be shared soon! Look out for more and follow along here.