The wife of the Vice President and Global Ambassador for the Clean Cooking Alliance, Samira Bawumia, has carried her fight for clean energy to the doorsteps of policymakers.
In her latest advocacy, her objective is to have policies promoting clean energy to curb the devastating effects of other alternatives.
“Governments and development agencies should continue taking measures to prioritize the issue of clean cooking as a major policy initiative.
“There is the need to Integrate clean cooking into government programs and policies and encourage the use of sustainable clean cooking solutions.
“A concerted political will is essential to ensure the progress of the clean cooking sector. High-level political will and action are a must. I am glad to see a strong representation from our government today,” she stated.
Samira Bawumia was speaking at the Clean Cooking Forum by the Clean Cooking Alliance held in Accra on Tuesday, October 11, 2022.
With her role as an Ambassador for the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and demonstrated achievements at the forefront of clean energy initiatives in recent years, her influence informed the decision to host this year’s forum in Ghana.
The forum brought together global leaders such as Ingrid Mollestad, Norwegian Ambassador to Ghana; Virginia A. Palmer, U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Ghana; Katja Lasseur, Deputy Head of Mission, Netherlands Embassy in Ghana; Vincent Wierda, IDE Energy Lead, Africa, Asia and the Pacific, United Nations Capital Development Fund; Carla Montesi, Director at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships.
Others include Dymphna van der Lans, CEO, Clean Cooking Alliance; Shirley McAlpine, Founder, Shirley McAlpine & Associates; Dr Kandeh Yumkella, Founder and CEO of the Energy Nexus Network; Dr. Leela Hazzah, Executive Director & Co-founder, Lion Guardians and Co-founder & Leadership Council, WE Africa; Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy; Ashvin Dayal, Senior Vice President Power and Climate, Rockefeller Foundation; and Rebecca Akufo-Addo, First Lady of the Republic of Ghana; under one roof for the common cause.
Delivering the opening remarks at the event, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo pointed out that “it will take sound public policies, a holistic approach, and long-term commitment from all development actors”.
For her, “reducing cooking emissions is critical to reducing forest degradation, improving health, empowering women, and children, protecting the environment, and helping achieve numerous other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
Mrs Bawumia was optimistic that the forum would pave the way for expedited action required to help bring clean cooking to the billions who live without it.
Outlining the reasons for a shift in current energy trends that have a devastating impact on human lives and the environment, she observed that:
“The simple act of cooking [using unclean fuels and technology] is a leading source of global air pollution and causes more deaths each year than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. It is one of the most underfunded – and furthest behind – indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), receiving less than one per cent of the estimated resources needed to address it”.
To buttress her point, she cited research from the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and Climate Analytics, highlighting that the world remains far off track in achieving universal access to clean energy by 2030.
Again, she referred to the SEforAll, which estimates that, for Ghana, the full transition from wood and charcoal to clean fuels could take 50 years or more.
And by 2030, only 40 per cent of the population will reach improved cookstoves access, and only 18 per cent will achieve clean fuel access.
“This means the business-as-usual approach has not been as effective as it should be. So much more needs to be done,” she stressed.
Mrs Bawumia was concerned that air pollution causes more than seven million deaths yearly, with 1.1 million deaths occurring in Africa.
Household air pollution, primarily driven by indoor cookstoves, accounted for 700,000 fatalities, while increased outdoor air pollution claimed 400,000 lives.
The World Bank estimates that 16,000 people die prematurely from air pollution yearly in Ghana.
“Each number in these millions represents a mother, father, son, daughter, or friend who is loved by their loved ones. These deaths are avoidable and unacceptable,” she said.
In conclusion, she couldn’t agree more with Riccardo Puliti, the Global Director, Energy and Extractive Industries and Regional Director for Infrastructure, Africa for the World Bank, who asserted that:
“Clean cooking must be a political, economic, and environmental priority, supported by policies and backed by investments and multi-sector partnerships. To make that kind of change, the level of commitment and the scale of investment matter”.