Recent News and Developments
- August 2008: The RE-Botswana Renewable Energy-based Rural Electrification project is a collaborative project between the Government of Botswana, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with Botswana Power Corporation as the implementing agency. The programme aims to remove barriers to the utilization of renewable and clean energy in Botswana. A key output of this strategy is to develop BPC Lesedi, a rural energy services company, for the commercial provision of basic energy services including solar electricity and efficient cooking appliances. The efficient cooking appliances will be offered to an estimated 50,000 rural households. In some cases they will be combined with a small solar electric system as part of an affordable energy package designed to meet the basic energy needs of the rural customer. The following two efficient cooking appliances will be offered:
- Hot Bag - being a thermally insulated bag or portable container designed to retain the heat of cooked food or hot water. Typically, a cooking pot is taken directly from the fire or stove and placed in the bag. The insulation of the bag maintains the temperature of the pot which for some foods is sufficient to complete the cooking process. Using the retained heat in this way can reduce the amount of wood fuel required. See Heat-retention cooking.
- The RE-Botswana project, in collaboration with the Botswana Power Corporation is in the process of identifying companies interested in the Supply and/or Design and Manufacturing of Efficient Wood Stoves and Hot Bags for Rural Households."
The History of Solar Cooking in Botswana
At the world meeting held under UNESCO auspices in Varese, Italy, a representative of the Botswana Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Affairs was present to make a presentation, describing that government's plans for a National Solar Cooking Programme. In this country, fuelwood is the dominant household energy source in rural areas. While originally it was considered as a "free" commodity, increasingly people need to purchase wood that is ever more scare and expensive. According to R. Fagbenle, Director of Energy Affairs in the Ministry, woody biomass supplies 70% of the country's energy, almost entirely fuelwood for cooking. Less fuelwood is used in the urban area. The nation is increasingly aware of the problem of deforestation, which requires people to travel farther and farther to locate fuel sources.
The solar cooking program planned to begin with a pilot program involving two communities, one urban, one rural. The overall objectives of the program were ambitious, including the distribution of 550,000 cookers over four years. To date, no information has been located on the success, or indeed the implementation, of the program.
Climate, Culture, and Special Considerations
In this country, fuelwood is the dominant household energy source in rural areas. While originally it was considered as a "free" commodity, increasingly people need to purchase wood that is ever more scare and expensive. According to R. Fagbenle, Director of Energy Affairs in the Ministry, woody biomass supplies 70% of the country's energy, almost entirely fuelwood for cooking. Less fuelwood is used in the urban area. The nation is increasingly aware of the problem of deforestation, which requires people to travel farther and farther to locate fuel sources.
- Discussion of southern Africa's suitability for solar cooking
- Solar cooker dissemination and cultural variables
- Adapting to an innovation: Solar cooking in the urban households of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Author: Hilde M. Toonen IN: Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C, Volume 34, Issues 1-2, Sustainable Water Solutions, 2009, Pages 65-71, ISSN 1474-7065, DOI: 10.1016/j.pce.2008.03.006. (Most households in Sub-Saharan Africa rely on wood as primary energy source. The availability of wood is decreasing and deforestation is a major ecological problem in Sub-Saharan Africa. The scarcity of wood is demanding for a sustainable solution. The sun seems to provide a good alternative. Solar energy is free, without unhealthy smoke or chances to burns. The idea of using solar energy for cooking is not new: many different techniques have already been tested. Most variants are expensive, and therefore not available for most families in Sub-Saharan Africa. A cheap solar cooking device is the CooKit, a cardboard panel cooker covered with aluminium foil. In the adaptation to the CooKit, as to all innovations, it is important that the users are convinced of the advantages. An important step in the adaptation process is learning how to use the cooking device; the best way to do this is by home practice. Monitoring and evaluating the real use is needed, for it is interesting to know if the CooKit is actually used, and also to find out how women have implemented the new technique in their kitchens.In 2005, the SUPO foundation started a project in Burkina Faso: Programme Energie Solaire Grand-Ouaga (PESGO). The aim of PESGO is to introduce the CooKit in the urban households in Ouagadougou by providing training sessions and home assistance. In this paper, a mid-term review on this small-scale cooking project is presented. The possibilities and challenges of solar cooking are outlined, taking the urban context of Ouagadougou in account. In PESGO, dependence on weather conditions is found to be one of the challenges: if sunrays are blocked by clouds or dust in the air, the cooking will be slowed down. The CooKit cannot replace firewood entirely, and a complementary element has to be found. SUPO is exploring the use of Jatropha oil as a complement to the CooKit. The Jatropha plant is drought tolerant and its fruits contain oil which can be used as fuel substitute. Further research on its use is interesting, because the combination of the CooKit and Jatropha oil seems to have high potential in the kitchens of West-Africa.
Articles in the media
- October 2008: Reflector cooker eases pangs of cooking - Botswana Press Agency (BOPA)
- June 2008: Solar power project in progress - Botswana Press Agency (BOPA)
- November 2007: Botswana: Cooking With the Sun - The Voice
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