On May 12, 2022, the Standards Alliance: Phase 2—a partnership between the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the U.S. Agency for National Development (USAID)—collaborated with Pivot Clean Energy Co. (PIVOT) and the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) to host its first webinar on bioethanol standardization, Introduction to Bioethanol as a Clean Cooking Fuel.
The webinar is part of a five-session virtual training series launched early this year to provide ARSO members with capacity-building support on bioethanol for household energy, specifically clean cooking fuel. The first session centered on exploring bioethanol as an alternative clean cooking fuel: It provided the necessary background to introduce standards and policies around bioethanol in future webinars; highlighted the benefits of bioethanol for multiple sectors including agriculture, sustainable energy, and the environment; and discussed potential impacts on climate change, gender, health, and economic issues. The webinar also served as an opportunity for U.S. experts in the bioethanol industry to share their experiences and provide guidance on developing this new market segment in sub-Saharan Africa.
The event featured an in-depth panel discussion and Q&A session exploring the various ways bioethanol as clean cooking fuel can be incorporated throughout the sub-Saharan African market. More than 20 participants representing national standards bodies (NSBs), testing labs, universities, and government agencies from various parts of Africa and the United States attended. Industry experts including Gerard Ostheimer, Ph.D., co-manager of the Clean Energy Ministerial Biofuture Campaign; Doug Faulkner, founder and president of Leatherstocking LLC; and Alicia ElMamouni, executive director at PIVOT, shared their perspectives, and participants had the opportunity to engage with speakers on how bioethanol could be standardized throughout the continent via a series of policies.
Among other outcomes, PIVOT reaffirmed its intent to provide more capacity-building support to ARSO member states as they continue to explore bioethanol standards and policy considerations for the African market based on global best practices. And in closing remarks, ARSO technical director Reuben Gisore emphasized the extreme urgency of bioethanol cooking as a priority for ARSO, and he encouraged further collaboration on the topic.
The next webinars in the series will address the impacts on adjacent sectors; the need for standards and quality control; market opportunities and trade; and implementation and best practices for developing the bioethanol fuel market in sub-Saharan Africa. Details will be released in the coming months as they are available.
Background: A Critical Need for Clean Cooking Solutions
In sub-Saharan Africa, 80% of the population cooks with solid or fossil fuels (e.g., wood, charcoal, coal, kerosene). This had enormous negative effects on the environment and health—particularly for women and children, who have the primary responsibility of procuring and cooking with solid and fossil fuels. Without substantial policy adjustments, the total number of people lacking access to clean fuels and technologies will remain largely unchanged by 2030, hindering the achievement of goals set out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including women empowerment and gender mainstreaming. Bioethanol for clean cooking offers a path for countries to achieve their sustainable development goals (SDGs), while providing significant benefits to the consumer including cost and time savings, healthier homes, and safer options for cooking and fuel procurement. For Africa, pursuing clean cooking is a pathway to managing household air pollution (HAP), deforestation, and preventing the 600,000 African fatalities that occur annually as a result of traditional cooking practices.