Africa: Beyond Fire


New report by World Food Council and Hivos suggests a complete rethink of the future path towards sustainable cooking in the Global South

Beyond fire in Africa

Somaliland sun — The role of renewable electricity for the cooking sector in the Global South has been widely underestimated. As the costs of renewable energy technologies continue to decline, cleaner and more modern technologies represent an entirely new pathway towards sustainable cooking in developing countries. These are the findings of the new report ‘Beyond Fire’ ( launched today by the international foundations World Future Council ( and Hivos ( at the UNFCCC climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

“The findings of this report help us to rethink sustainable cooking in countries of the Global South” says Stefan Schurig, Director of Climate, Energy and Cities of the World Future Council. “A profound transition is urgently needed to protect the global climate, increase economic opportunities for women and children, and help save millions of lives worldwide. The report shows future pathways for cooking in urban and rural areas that go beyond fire.”

According to “Beyond Fire’, protecting the environment, scaling-up access to electricity, and fostering economic development are in fact complementary goals when it comes to cooking – which represents the single largest source of energy consumption in many developing countries, far greater than either electricity, or transport. The most up to date cost estimations of various cooking technologies suggest that using electricity from renewable energy is already ‘within reach’. And cooking with sustainable biogas is already cheaper in many cases than cooking with wood.      

“Reliance on wood and charcoal for cooking has a number of well-recorded negative effects, including deforestation, soil erosion or loss of biodiversity” says Eco Matser, Programme Manager Climate, Energy and Development at Hivos foundation. “Exposure to household air pollution from cooking with solid fuels causes 4.3 million premature death and inefficient cooking fuels and technologies are particularly affecting women and children, since they are most exposed to the toxic fumes. Therefore a new pathway towards sustainable cooking is absolutely crucial.” 

Across the world, upwards of 3 billion people rely on biomass for fuel; firewood, charcoal or animal dung are often employed to meet household energy needs for cooking, resulting in seriously adverse consequences for the environment, health, and economic development within this substantial population.

The report has calculated the costs of producing a unit of thermal energy (in GJ) via each of the main cooking options under consideration. At the core of this calculation is that the estimated useful energy needed for cooking per person is 1GJ per year. The cost of meeting cooking needs with cleaner, modern sources of energy ranges between 0,90 Euro/per person/per day to below 0,20 Euro. The report was peer reviewed by a number of additional experts including 


  • Dipal Barua, WFC Councilor and founder of the Bright Green Energy Foundation
  • Ivy Chipasha, Project Analyst, Green Knowledge Institute, Zambia
  • Camilla Fulland, Co-founder Prime Cookstoves
  • Rachel Kyte, Special Representative of UN Secretary General for Sustainable Energy and CEO Sea4all
  • Dr. Ruth Rabinowitz, Founder, The Democracy Foundation/MamaEarth, South Africa
  • Mary Swai, Project Manager, Tanzania Traditional Energy Development and Environment Organization, Tanzania
  • Dr. Sven Teske, Research Principal, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney

The full report can be found at:  

Distributed by APO on behalf of World Future Council. 

View multimedia content