The Standard Alliance, a partnership between the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), collaborated with Pivot Clean Energy Co. (Pivot) and the ECOWAS Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE) to co-host an intensive two-day workshop on “Bioethanol Standards for Clean Cooking.” The event took place on March 17-18 and March 21-22 in Togo and the Gambia, respectively.
The workshop was designed to promote the concept of clean cooking with bioethanol cookstoves and fuels as sustainable alternatives to traditional biomass (fossil fuels)—a predominant energy source in many parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, particularly the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region. The overall objective was twofold: to provide practical knowledge on bioethanol fuels, and to discuss how to address the lack of access to clean cooking solutions—an issue more than 4 billion people around the world face on a regular basis.
The workshop provided an avenue for stakeholders to meet and discuss a way forward for promoting bioethanol fuels and establishing practical commitments in Togo and the Gambia. It highlighted the importance of policy, standards development, trade implications, practical implementation, and the stakeholders that are vital participants in these processes. The event enabled U.S. and African experts to share experiences, industry best practices, and international standards for furthering bioethanol fuel use in both countries.
According to the United Nations (UN), “the ECOWAS region ranks among the lowest in terms of electricity access rates in the world, with only about 42 percent of the total population and 8 percent of rural residents having access to electricity. The region is confronted with the realities of energy vulnerability, fuel price volatility, and system unreliability. Energy poverty and its consequences for local economies and social development are projected to remain the predominant challenge for West Africa up to 2030. On average, 85.7 percent of the population currently uses solid fuels (predominantly wood and charcoal) for cooking, with national figures ranging from 98 percent to less than 30 percent. The region’s reliance on traditional biomass and solid fuels has enormous negative effects on the environment and health, particularly for women and children.”
The workshop looked to address these critical issues, including social and gender inequalities and economic disparity, by promoting the use and adoption of internationally recognized standards to enable successful transition to bioethanol as a clean cooking fuel.
A total of 60 participants attended the hybrid-virtual event, which took place in both the Gambia and Togo and included private- and public-sector participants from the U.S. and various parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. U.S. company speakers from POET, Pivot, KMoore Consulting, Growth Energy, U.S. Grains Council, Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), along with representatives of Kenyan- and Tanzanian-based small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) Consumer’s Choice Limited and Motosafi Cookers, joined the workshop virtually and shared their perspectives on clean energy standards, policy considerations, and the associated benefits and implications. Representatives from the Ministry of Energy in Togo and the Gambia, Togolese Agency for Standardization (ATN), and the Gambia Standards Bureau (TGSB) participated in person, sharing their perspectives and commitment to addressing the issues.
The workshop addressed key topics in both countries including:
In-depth panel discussions and Q&A sessions also explored various aspects of the standards development process and implementing bioethanol programs. During the final session, Consumer’s Choice Limited and Motosafi Cookers provided case studies highlighting their unique experiences in producing and using locally produced fuels and technologies. Among the highlights were the creation of new sub-sectors, local jobs for SMEs, and additional export opportunities from locally produced ethanol and manufactured clean stoves in the region.
The workshop concluded with several recommendations from Pivot on the possible next steps for the Togolese governments to begin producing or importing denatured ethanol for cooking, including the adoption/creation and implementation of clean cooking policies and standards. In the Gambia, representatives from the TGSB and Gambian governments were encouraged to continue leveraging their Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ASTM International to gain access to relevant clean fuel standards, including ASTM E3050, Denatured Ethanol for Use as Cooking and Appliance Fuel.
These two workshops are a continuation of activities ANSI has supported through the Standards Alliance to further progress in biofuel education and standards development in Sub-Saharan Africa in coordination with Pivot, ANSI’s implementing partner for this capacity-building activity.
The workshop agenda and presentations are available on ANSI’s website.
Background on Pivot’s Work and the Standards Alliance Activity
Pivot is a nonprofit bioethanol coalition that was created to accelerate the transition to clean bioethanol for household energy globally. By joining collaboratively with other entities in the bioethanol industry and clean energy sectors, Pivot strives to improve market intelligence and communication around bioethanol, catalyze funding to support new or growing enterprise in developing countries, and strengthen supply infrastructure and policies to support affordable, safe solutions for consumers. As part of its mission in transitioning homes to bioethanol, Pivot works with interested stakeholders to develop policy and standards in this arena across multiple geographies.
In December 2020, ECREEE and Pivot hosted a virtual introduction to Bioethanol for Clean Cooking Conference which included all ECOWAS member states. The purpose of this conference was to highlight the lack of access to clean cooking solutions and provide information on bioethanol as a solution to this pervasive issue. Recognizing that ECOWAS member states are in need of clean solutions, and having completed an introduction to bioethanol last year, Pivot, ECREEE, and the Standards Alliance, a public-private partnership between ANSI and USAID, collaborated to invest in workshops for ECOWAS countries that have expressed interest in developing this sector.
 (Reiss, n.d.)