The International Energy Agency (IEA) has unveiled a substantial pledge of US$4 billion aimed at tackling a pressing health concern that disproportionately impacts women across Africa.
This funding initiative was revealed during a bilateral meeting at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP28) in Dubai, UAE, and aims to combat the life-threatening impacts of traditional cooking practices, which claim the lives of half a million African women annually.
Dr. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the IEA, underscored the urgency of this matter in his discussions with Uganda’s Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu.
“The stark reality is that more than half a million women succumb each year due to archaic cooking methods that rely on charcoal and firewood,” Dr Birol emphasised. He expressed his ambition to convene a major conference with global leaders and philanthropists in France next year, rallying support for this vital clean cooking initiative in Africa.
Highlighting the gravity of the situation, Dr Birol noted, “The proposed US$4 billion investment is a modest sum when weighed against the lives of half a million women. It’s reasonable to expect the necessary funds to be raised for this cause.”
In a landmark development, the IEA, in partnership with Uganda’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development, is set to launch Uganda’s Energy Transition Plan (ETP) on Tuesday. This strategic framework, a first for a Sub-Saharan African nation, aims to catalyse Uganda’s economic growth through sustainable energy solutions.
Dr. Birol lauded Uganda’s strides in clean energy adoption and its energy transition journey. “We monitor progress across Africa and can affirm Uganda’s commendable efforts. The ETP not only opens up prospects for significant investor interest but also positions Uganda as a model for energy transformation,” he stated.
Dr. Nankabirwa echoed the significance of this initiative for Uganda, remarking on its profound impact. “Hearing about this support is like music to our ears. We vividly remember the hardships associated with traditional cooking methods from our own experiences,” she reflected.
Dr Nankabirwa also highlighted Uganda’s commitment to environmental conservation and reducing reliance on charcoal and biomass, evidenced by the President’s executive order against deforestation and a mere 2% of the population using LPG (cooking gas). “Our plans are ready; we await the crucial funding to bring them to fruition,” she added.
The meeting, marking a pivotal moment in Africa’s energy and health sectors, was attended by key figures, including Ms Irene Bateebe, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, and Commissioners Dr Gerald Banaga-Baingi and Dr. Brian Isabirye.
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