Alfred Kusiima is the national coordinator of the Uganda National Alliance on Clean Cooking (UNACC), a membership-based association that supports and steers efforts towards reduction in demand for biomass energy resources in Uganda. He spoke to The Independent’s Agnes E. Nantaba about promoting clean and efficient cooking solutions.
What are the key elements in your management philosophy?
I take management from a hands-on engagement as opposed to scholarly perspective. To achieve this, I ensure that there are fully functional structures, systems and strategies in place to enable me execute my role as a manager. In modern management, interacting through an open door policy with the team is very crucial.
What is your assessment of the adoption of clean energy in Uganda?
Statistics show that 90 % of the country’s population still use traditional cooking means (firewood) compared to the small percentage that has partially embraced improved way of cooking in the line of LPG gas and improved stoves. However, we have made some strides in the area of standardization and certification policy. This is almost taking off, thanks to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development. This is aimed at ensuring that stoves produced pass the test of (energy) efficiency, eco-friendliness and meet international standards.
UNACC also works to support and steer efforts towards reduction of demand on biomass energy resources. How far have you gone with executing this mandate?
We are continuing with training and capacity building of manufacturers of improved cooking stoves. This is aimed at enabling them not only to have the craftsmanship but also let them know that the market requires a particular product that works as a solution to a problem.
What are some of the challenges, if any, that are hampering access to modern and clean energy services amongst the population?
Through our interactions with the community, it has been brought to our attention that these alternatives remain very expensive and inaccessible. But also, many of the manufacturers are operating on a small scale. It is therefore important to look into what they are not doing right. This could be in terms of the dynamics of not doing it as a business or not meeting requirements. As for our traditional culture, many would ask how practical it is to prepare food using gas but we shall endeavour to break it down.
How can the government and other stakeholders help to promote clean cooking solutions?
We are already working with over ten ministerial committees and other stakeholders to break down the barriers. With regards to the issue of standardization and the role of other sector players particularly in the chain of production, we have benchmarked with countries like Brazil where specialization has really worked; we are trying to harness who does what and where. We are looking at this sector being harnessed through identifying the strength of each person.
What about the UNACC market development and “Fumbalive” campaigns?
Those are avenues that we are taking on because they send messages better to the grassroots. To be able to communicate effectively to the rural community, we take it through drama and we hope we shall realize the intended goal.
Since 2015, UNACC has been holding clean cooking forums. What impact have these created on increasing access to clean energy?
We have realized a reduction in reliance on traditional cook stoves. For instance, through a consultative workshop in Mbarara District recently, one of the schools reduced its consumption of firewood by half to three trucks per term. We also see more households embracing clean energy.
What is your projection of UNACC operations in Uganda in the next few years?
Our target is to get about five million Ugandan households adopt clean and efficient cooking solutions and fuels by 2020. Although this may not come easily, we are very positive that we can achieve that with the various strategies and systems put in place.