FAO worried about achieving clean energy for cooking in Africa

Wood Fuel
Wood Fuel

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says it is worried about the slow progress of African countries in providing affordable and clean energy sources for cooking on the continent.

It said in the last two decades, Africa had been able to increase its target of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal seven (SDG7), which ensures affordable and clean energy as well as access to clean cooking, by only seven per cent.

This, according to Mr. Abele Halle-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General, calls for much concerted efforts on the ability of countries of the continent to meet the targets by 2030.

Speaking at a three-day international conference on sustainable wood fuel value chain in Africa in Kumasi, he said, over one billion people on the continent were expected to continue to rely on traditional wood fuel by 2030, if bold actions and policy decisions were not taken.

Firewood and charcoal provide more than 80 per cent of the energy used in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the World Agroforestry Center, with only a small volume produced sustainably.

The conference was organized by the University of Copenhagen in partnership with Tropenbos Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Other organizers were the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), World Agroforestry, African Forest Policies and Politics (AFORPOLIS), Forest and Farm Facility and International Union of Forestry Research Organizations (IUFRO).

It was aimed at promoting understanding and sharing of knowledge, good practices, and solutions among and between scholars, practitioners, private sector, and policy makers on sustainable and equitable wood fuel value chains and to advocate and explore strategies for their scaling-up.

Mr Halle-Gabriel said in the face of climate change, it was important to make smart choices towards greener, renewable and affordable energy, while working to ensure sustainable wood fuel value chains across Africa.

He said it was also necessary to integrate the management and restoration of forest resources and landscapes and tree-based agricultural systems.

He pledged the FAO’s resolve to collaborate with the forest and farm producer organizations in advancing multi stakeholder platforms that would generate actionable policy and practice alternatives for sustainable wood fuel value chains.

Dr. Kwakye Ameyaw, Technical Consultant at the Forestry Commission (FC), said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the FC in Ghana, recognized the urgent need for a well-regulated wood fuel value chain.

This involved wood harvesting, processing, transportation and consumption to be well regulated through the provision of a sound policy.

Dr Ameyaw said it would help reduce the negative impacts of the industry on the forestry sector in particular and the environment as a whole.

Per records available at the Ghana Energy Commission, wood fuel accounted for more than 60 percent of the total energy used for cooking in Ghana.

He said the current threat posed by indiscriminate harvesting of trees for charcoal production was not only a threat to environmental sustainability but also a danger to livelihoods.

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