Launch Message: Phase 3 Online Discussion: Light Up and Power Africa for Women and Men

[Facilitator’s Note: Please find below a message from Kristy Langerman, Eskom who will facilitate Phase 3 of this discussion. Kristy has worked on initiating clean energy projects in low income areas in South Africa. She completed a PhD at the University of the Witwatersrand, and worked in research at Wits University before moving to Eskom, the electricity utility company in South Africa.

Special thanks to Sheila Oparaocha, and Karen Stefiszyn who facilitated respectively Phase 1 and 2 of the discussion for their inputs and insightful moderation. Thanks also to Margaret Kilo, Gareth Phillips, Faustina Boakye, Elizabeth Cecelski, Lovette Merchant Topoh, Patrice Horugavye, Amitav Rath, Dosse Sossouga, Genevieve Macfarlane Smith, and Alvin Munyasia for their comments on Phase 1 of the discussion. And to Dosse Sossouga, Erika Auer, Radha Muthiah, Anteneh Dagnachew, Kimbowa Richard, Margaret Matinga, Rodolfo Gomes , Mme Gueye, Lizzy Igbine, Francisca Ansah, Faustina Boakye, Milika Chande and Ana Rojas for their comments on Phase 2 of the discussion.

This online discussion is organized by the Gender in Practice Community of Practice in partnership with ENERGIA, Power Africa and various private sector organizations. I invite you to engage in this discussion and share your views and ideas on this topic by registering directly on the GiP-CoP platform or submitting your responses by email to All contributions will be posted on the GiP CoP discussion forum.]

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LAUNCH Message: Phase 3: Gender Inequality and the sustainable use of Energy

Dear colleagues,

I am pleased to launch the Third and final phase of our online discussion: Light up and Power Africa for Women and Men. The discussion will take place from November 16 - 30.

On the African continent, energy poverty disproportionately affects women and girls who are mainly responsible for procuring, purchasing and using cooking fuels. On average, women report that they spend 19 per cent of their time each day in unpaid activities, versus 8 per cent for men. Further, about 600,000 deaths of mainly women and children can be attributed to household air pollution from use of solid fuels such as wood and charcoal every year on the continent.

The world’s dependence on fossil fuels and the uncontrolled use of such energy across the globe to support various development paths has led to global warming and to deteriorations in our environment. It is therefore necessary to discuss the sustainable use of energy in conjunction with access to energy and policies to produce and distribute energy.

The Sustainable energy for all (SE4All) initiative maintains that universal energy access, increasing the use of renewable energy, improved energy efficiency and addressing the nexus between energy and health, women, food, water and other development issues; must be deeply integrated in the development agenda in all countries. Sustainable energy provides new opportunities for growth. It enables businesses to grow, generates jobs, and creates new markets. Children can study after dark. Clinics can store life-saving vaccines. Countries can grow more resilient, with competitive economies. Access to sustainable energy is necessary for stimulating economic activities, creating and/or growing businesses that generate employment. Access to sustainable energy services and improved cooking stoves also contributes to significant health improvements. The health burden from indoor air pollution is highest amongst poor families who tend to use cheap bio-mass and low quality coal fuels in primitive stoves without proper ventilation. Women and young children are particularly vulnerable as they often spend a lot of time indoors and they are often responsible for cooking the family's meals. Access to energy, especially clean energy supports longer life expectancy, warmer houses and better heating and cooling, refrigeration which allows better food conservation; all of which help to improve health, education and economic participation.

Studies confirm that failure to consider the different needs of women and men can limit the effectiveness of energy programmes and policies, as well as other development activities that involve energy use. Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) traditionally concentrated on large-scale, capital intensive technology projects designed to provide energy for growth in the formal sectors of the economy. Energy efficiency and sustainability have often been ignored, as have household activities that require energy, such as food processing, water procurement, transportation of water and fuel. In the past, such gender-blind policies by DFIs unwittingly contributed to widening gender disparities in the sector.

The Bank and its partners have set an ambitious target in achieving universal energy access on the continent by 2025, the success of which is dependent on recognizing the gender-differentiated uses of energy and the differentiated policies necessary to support a sustainable energy access and use for women and men on the continent. This discussion will examine current and past experiences with programmes and interventions aimed at addressing gender inequality in sustainable energy utilization. It will capture bottlenecks, gaps, lessons learned from programming in this thematic area and integrate these into guidelines and good practices for more effective interventions in the sector.

Phase III: Gender inequality in sustainable Energy Utilization (November 16 – November 30)

  • What does sustainable energy utilization mean for women? and men?
  • What has been done to promote sustainability in women’s use of energy- keeping in mind the high cost of electricity and some renewable energy options-?
  • How can women be supported so that they have greater access to finance, both within and beyond the home, to promote sustainable energy utilization?
  • How does the Bank support sustainable energy utilization for women? How have other DFIs and MDBs tackled this challenge?
  • What experiences and lessons could be used to buttress the effectiveness of the Bank’s interventions in this area?

All contributions submitted during the online discussion will be disseminated to all members and posted online.

You can share your views on any of these questions:

I look forward to energized and thoughtful exchanges!


Kristy Langerman


Lancement- Phase 3 de la discussion en ligne : Éclairer l'Afrique et l'alimenter en énergie pour les femmes et les hommes

Phase 3 : Inégalité des Sexes et l’utilisation durable de l’énergie

[Note du Modérateur: Veuillez trouver ci-dessous un message de Kristy Langerman, Eskom qui sera notre modérateur pour la Phase 3 de la discussion. Kristy a travaillé sur l'initiation de projets d'énergie renouvelables dans les zones à faible revenu en Afrique du Sud. Elle a obtenu un doctorat à l'Université du Witwatersrand, et a travaillé dans la recherche à l'Université Wits avant de s’engager à Eskom, la société de services publics d'électricité en Afrique du Sud.

Nous remercions spécialement Sheila Oparaocha et Karen Stefiszyn pour leur modération des Phases 1 et 2 de cette discussion. Nous remercions aussi tous les participants particulierement Margaret Kilo, Gareth Phillips, Faustina Boakye, Elizabeth Cecelski, Lovette Merchant Topoh, Patrice Horugavye, Amitav Rath, Dosse Sossouga, Genevieve Macfarlane Smith, et Alvin Munyasia pour leurs reflections en réponse à la Phase 1 de la discussion. Ainsi que Dosse Sossouga, Erika Auer, Radha Muthiah, Anteneh Dagnachew, Kimbowa Richard, Margaret Matinga,  Rodolfo Gomes, Mme Gueye, Lizzy Igbine, Francisca Ansah, Faustina Boakye, Milika Chande et Ana Rojas pour leurs contributions à la phase 2 de cette discussion.

Cette discussion en ligne est organisée par la communauté de pratiques sur le Genre (CoP GeP) en partenariat avec ENERGIA, Power Africa et divers organismes du secteur privé. Je vous invite à participer à ce débat et de partager vos points de vue et idées sur ce sujet en vous inscrivant directement sur la plate-forme CoP GeP ou en soumettant vos réponses par courriel à Toutes les contributions seront publiées sur le forum de discussion de CoP GeP.]


Chers collègues,

Je suis heureuse de lancer la troisième phase de la discussion en ligne : Énergiser l’Afrique et l’alimenter en énergie pour les femmes et les hommes. Cette Phase 3 de la discussion se tiendra du 16 au 30 Novembre.

Sur le continent africain, la pauvreté énergétique affecte de manière disproportionnée les femmes et les filles qui sont principalement responsables de la provision, l'achat et l'utilisation des combustibles de cuisson. En moyenne, les femmes déclarent qu'elles consacrent 19% de leur temps chaque jour à des activités non rémunérées, contre 8% pour les hommes. En outre, environ 600 000 décès, principalement des femmes et des enfants, peuvent être attribués à la pollution atmosphérique des ménages par l'utilisation de combustibles solides comme le bois et le charbon de bois chaque année sur le continent.

La dépendance du monde à l'égard des combustibles fossiles et l'utilisation incontrôlée de cette énergie à travers le monde pour soutenir diverses voies de développement a conduit au réchauffement climatique et à la détérioration de notre environnement. Il est donc nécessaire de discuter de l'utilisation durable de l'énergie en conjonction avec l'accès à l'énergie et les politiques de production et de distribution de l'énergie.

L'initiative Énergie durable pour tous (SE4All) maintient que l'accès universel à l'énergie, l'utilisation accrue des énergies renouvelables, l'amélioration de l'efficacité énergétique et le lien entre l'énergie et la santé, les femmes, l'alimentation, l'eau et d'autres questions de développement ; doivent être profondément intégrés dans le programme de développement de chaque pays. L'énergie durable offre de nouvelles possibilités de croissance. Elle permet aux entreprises de croître, de générer des emplois et de créer de nouveaux marchés. Les enfants peuvent étudier après la tombée de la nuit. Les cliniques peuvent conserver des vaccins qui sauvent des vies. Les pays se développent, résistent mieux aux chocs, et ont des économies compétitives.

L'accès à l'énergie durable est nécessaire pour stimuler les activités économiques, créer et / ou développer des entreprises génératrices d'emplois. L'accès à des services énergétiques durables et aux cuisinières améliorées contribue également à des améliorations importantes de la santé. La charge sanitaire liée à la pollution de l'air intérieur est plus élevée chez les familles pauvres qui ont tendance à utiliser de la biomasse à bas prix et des combustibles à base de charbon de faible qualité dans les foyers primitifs sans ventilation adéquate. Les femmes et les jeunes enfants sont particulièrement vulnérables car ils passent souvent beaucoup de temps à l'intérieur et ils cuisinent les repas de la famille. L'accès à l'énergie, en particulier aux énergies propres, favorise une plus longue espérance de vie, des maisons plus chaudes et un meilleur chauffage et climatisation, une réfrigération qui permet une meilleure conservation des aliments ; tout cela contribue à améliorer la santé, l'éducation et la participation économique.

Des études confirment qu’en ignorant les différents besoins des femmes et des hommes, on peut limiter l'efficacité des programmes et politiques énergétiques, ainsi que d'autres activités de développement qui impliquent l'utilisation de l'énergie. Les institutions de financement du développement (IFD) se concentrent traditionnellement sur des projets technologiques de grande envergure et à forte intensité de capital, conçus pour fournir de l'énergie à la croissance dans les secteurs formels de l'économie. L'efficacité énergétique et la durabilité ont souvent été ignorées, de même que les activités domestiques nécessitant de l'énergie, comme la transformation des aliments, l'approvisionnement en eau, le transport de l'eau et du carburant. Par le passé, de telles politiques aveugles au genre ont involontairement contribué à élargir les disparités entre les sexes dans le secteur.

La Banque et ses partenaires se sont fixés un objectif ambitieux en matière d'accès universel à l'énergie sur le continent d'ici à 2025, dont le succès dépend de la reconnaissance des utilisations sexospécifiques de l'énergie et des politiques différenciées nécessaires pour soutenir un accès et une utilisation durables de l'énergie pour les femmes et les hommes sur le continent. Cette dernière phase de notre discussion examinera les expériences actuelles et passées avec des programmes et des interventions visant à lutter contre l'inégalité entre les sexes dans l'utilisation durable de l'énergie. Elle déterminera les goulets d'étranglement, les lacunes, les leçons tirées de la programmation dans ce domaine et les intégrera dans les lignes directrices et les bonnes pratiques pour des interventions plus efficaces dans le secteur.

Cette phase de la discussion se penchera sur les problématiques et questions ci-dessous.

Phase III : L'inégalité entre les sexes dans l'utilisation durable de l'énergie (16 – 30 Novembre)

  • Que signifie l'utilisation durable de l'énergie pour les femmes ? et les hommes ?
  • Qu'est-ce qui a été fait pour promouvoir la durabilité dans l'utilisation de l’énergie par les femmes en tenant compte du coût élevé de l'électricité et de certaines options d'énergie renouvelable ?
  • Comment les femmes peuvent-elles être soutenues afin qu'elles aient un meilleur accès au financement, à l'intérieur et à l'extérieur du foyer, pour promouvoir l'utilisation durable de l'énergie ?
  • Comment la Banque encourage-t-elle l’utilisation durable de l’énergie par les femmes ? Comment les autres IFD ont-elles abordé ce défi ?
  • Quelles sont les expériences et leçons qui pourraient servir à renforcer l'efficacité des interventions de la Banque et d’autres organismes dans ce domaine ?

Vous pouvez participer à cette discussion par l’une des méthodes suivantes :

Toutes les réponses et tous les messages envoyés au cours de la discussion en ligne seront diffusés à l’intention de tous les membres du réseau CoP GeP et affichés en ligne sur le forum.

Nous vous encourageons à prendre part à cette discussion en ligne pour analyser les défis qui se posent et proposer des solutions visant à lutter contre l'inégalité des sexes dans le secteur de l'énergie.


Kristy Langerman


Caradee Wright's picture

How can women be supported so that they have greater access to finance, both within and beyond the home, to promote sustainable energy utilization?

When I read this question, I thought of the time I met a Gogo (Granny) who was looking after three small children under 5 years of age while her daughter was away for work each day. Gogo was responsible for the running of the home and childcare, and she looked exhausted. We asked how she cooked, and she gave a very complex description of the way things worked in the home. There was about ZAR100 for electricity each month - the money from the social grants for each child went to the daughter's husband and only ZAR100 was allocated to electricity. They used electricity for the fridge and lighting. When the money ran out mid-month, there was no more electricity. Cooking was done outside in an open kitchen on a wood fire. Gogo fetched firewood with three toddlers in tow every day. Water was boiled on the fire too. Sometimes paraffin lamps were used - if there was money for paraffin but she worried about safety for the little ones. Gogo, perhaps 60+ years of age shouldered all of these responsibilities with a toothless smile. She accepted her lot. My reflections of this interaction were that the energy mix for a given household will only ever meet what can be afforded and what can be achieved by an individual, usually a woman. And that often the household head, a man, controls the money, leaving the woman with little choice but to find creative solutions to providing for her family. The cultural nuances of energy usage are critical to understand if we are ever to see sustainable energy for all.

Dear Caradee, that is why energy programs should come hand in hand with essencial development services (income-generation activities, health care, sanitation, education... of course, all of this with the decisions made by the locals to questions of what, who, when, how and where). And for Granny's case in particular, I wonder if there is another solution(s) to meet her family's energy needs: solar PV could provide their electricity demand cheaper than grid? I'm not advocating for solar, it is only an example.
And the most important point in my point of view: if the social grants were on the hands of the her daughter, would this situation be the same? I can't judge, but I believe it would be. For better.

Jessie Durett's picture

I would like to share some thoughts on the following questions of Phase 3:
How does the Bank support sustainable energy utilization for women? How have other DFIs and MDBs tackled this challenge?
What experiences and lessons could be used to buttress the effectiveness of the Bank’s interventions in this area?
First, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves has put some thought into effective financing for sustainable development generally and more specifically to address the issues at the intersection of gender equality and energy access. I would refer you all to our memo on “Strengthening the Foundation for Post-2015 Development and Financing” at It was written ahead of the UN conference on Financing for Development, but the lessons spelled out are still quite relevant, especially as work is underway to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The link will take you to the executive summary and from there you can click on the longer version of the memo that go into more depth. The Alliance is committed to sharing the lessons from our cross-cutting, market-based approach and constantly considering how we can deliver the most impactful gains.
In response to these questions, I would also like to note the importance of enhancing technical capacity building in order to reach the SDGs and work toward implementing the Paris Agreement. Over 50 countries have included clean cooking in their national plans to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change. However, most of these countries lack the capacity to deliver on the action items they spell out. Many of the countries, including Nigeria, note that clean cooking can simultaneously drive gains for climate change mitigation, economic development, social inclusion, health, etc. It is a great to see an understanding of how cross-cutting solutions that address energy and equity concerns included, but additional technical capacity will be needed to realize these objectives.
Additionally, there is a great need for targeted financing to address the common gaps that enterprises working to serve basic energy needs face. In particular, there is still a pressing need for capacity building and grant resources that will help enterprises get to investment readiness.
Other Alliance resources that are relevant to this discussion include:
Partner Country Toolkit:
Enterprise Development Toolkit:
Measuring Social Impact in the Clean and Efficient Cooking Sector: A How-To Guide:
Scaling Adoption of Clean Cooking Solutions through Women’s Empowerment: A Resource Guide:
Please reach out with any follow-up questions. These are big and important questions for discussion.

Jessie Durrett

Dear Jessie, thanks for the material! I'd like only to point out the importance of the technology choices for cooking stoves. There are several of them and not necessarily all of them are appropriate to the locality. These technologies should meet the needs and the conditions of affordability, accessibility, availability and durability. The local people (especially women) are essential to this process of choosing the best technology that meet their needs. Otherwise there is a considerable risk of failure in introducing a technology (as much simple it could be) that does not suits well. Past experiences are full of cases like that.

Jessie Durett's picture

Hi Rodolfo, I totally agree and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves' approach is based off the ideas that you suggest. Appropriateness and selection of technology is very important. You can learn more about the Alliance's technology and fuels strategy here:

On the link, you can also look at the Clean Cooking Catalog, which includes hundreds of technologies and information on different fuels.

Jessie Durrett

Nomsa Thabethe's picture

Nothing much has been done to promote sustainability in women’s use of energy, especially in the rural areas. I grew up in a village and I still spend most of my weekends at the village. Women from my village spend most of their time collecting wood, dung, etc for cooking. As much as electricity is so expensive, there are no means for making it cheaper for poor people. I feel that women (especially those in rural areas) who can greatly contribute to this discussion are not part of these forums and if possible, we should find a way of making them to be part of this discussion.


Cooking fuels which are mostly biomass based contribute to pollution loads in countries in addition to adding to the health risks suffered by women. Many women participate in the biofuel value chain as entrepreneurs and increasing their engagement in the value adding parts of the chain is a step to address their contribution to the fuel that they mostly use.
Shifting to cleaner sources of fuel like gas (and even clean coal) brings a more favorable emissions profile and takes care of the health risks but could also rob women of their livelihood if engaged in the charcoal selling business.
A gender sensitive strategy for energy needs to look at gender disaggregated data on source of energy and markets of energy to ensure the right policies are adopted when looking at sustainability concerns.

Lizzy Igbine's picture

Sustainable energy means different things to men and women.

To men sustainable ebergy may mean energy for powering Air conditioners,Musical system and Industries at a sustainable rate with durable price.To women sustainable energy means energy for house hold equipments, fridge, freezers, saloon dryers, nail dryers, Kitchen equipments, blenders etc. Sustainability to both men and women have same objective to help in day to day life activities. To make life easier, the use of alternative source of energy is been canvased and scientists are working towards shoring up of energy needs through introduction of solar powers, This have high initial costs. Women can be supported to participate in Sustainable Energy by Creating a special fund for women as grants to support women in up-scaling production and use of clean cooking stoves, Poduction and promotion of low cost energy alternatives and participating in Energy distribution and trades. AFDB can support by putting together a women challenge fund, A women Energy endowment fund or Special women grants to up scale energy. The Experience and lessons are the introduction of clean cooking stoves which are gaining prominence in our communities.This can be up-scaled


Jessie Durett's picture

I appreciate your comment. In regard to your suggestion about funds, I would recommend you take a look at the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves' funds, including the Women's Empowerment Fund, as examples of financial mechanisms that have supported gender-informed approaches to sustainable energy:

Jessie Durrett


Vous savez, rien n`est impossible s`il y a la volonté. Il y a quelques années on ne peut pas voir une femme politicienne en Afrique, mais aujourd`hui avec l`éducation, on assiste a un changement de mentalité. La femme aussi peut faire les activités qui étaient réservées aux hommes et même le faire mieux. Le même changement doit arriver avec les activités énergétiques renouvelables. Il suffit de mobiliser les femmes et les filles autour de la thématique tout en les motivant à des actions innovantes en ernergies renouvelables. Les femmes africaines seront très efficaces dés que les opportunités leur sont offertes. des formations en energie renouvelables en transfert de la technologie, en business etc... Des exemples des femmes asiatiques, de l`Australie des USA et de l`Europe leur serviront de stimulus pour changer leur perception de l`électrification rurale et africaine. L`égalité genre ne sera que la conséquence de cette politique d`intégration féminine dans tous les processus.
La durabilité de l`énergétisation de l`Afrique dépend de l`engagement des femmes au côté des hommes pour sa distribution, sa maintenance, sa réparation etc...


"La femme aussi peut faire les activités qui étaient réservées aux hommes et même le faire mieux.": yes!
"L`égalité genre ne sera que la conséquence de cette politique d`intégration féminine dans tous les processus.": not necessarily. The fight for gender equality is much broader than strong participation in a process for energy access and income generation. Women can strongly participate in the same activities as men in promoting energy access, but it doesn't mean gender equality as long as these same women earn less than men for the same job; or continue facing sexual harassments; or do not attain higher job positions usually assumed by men. Paraphrasing Ghandi, there is not a path to gender equality, gender equality is the path.

Les femmes entrepreneures peuvent jouer un role capital suant a limplication effective des femmes aux questions energetiques. Ce sont elles lenfant au dos chargent le fagot du retour du champs pour la cuisine,le chauffage et l'eclairage.
Un bon encadrement de la femme entrepreneure peut permettre de promouvoir dans les eones rurales tous les outils fispinibles pour les aider a savoir,goyer ameliores,plaques solaires individuelles, foyers simplifies a gaz ..etc.
La banque doit clarifier sa politique et mettre en place une plateforme pour accompagner les femmes entrepreneures.
Mme Gueye

Nolbert Muhumuza's picture

Women in rural Africa spend at least five hours every single day making meals for their households under smoky conditions as a result of using the inefficient 3-stone fire stoves.
In addition travel at least 36 Km a week to scavenge for firewood and this also exposes them to risks like rape and accidents. All these effects deny women and girls critical productive time either for school or for engaging in other income generating activities.
Use of improved cook stoves can drastically save household incomes, create extra productive time, save them frequent distances to forests and exposures to high indoor air emissions. Wood stoves like gasifier stoves add value because they further utilize agricultural residues like maize cobs and cassava stems that are otherwise rarely used for cooking.

Co-Founder & CEO
Awamu Biomass Energy
PO Box 40127, Nakawa
Kampala - Uganda.
Office: +256-751-292686
Mobile: +256-776-346724


Depuis la nuit des temps, la femme et la fille sont assujetties à l'utilisation de bois, du charbon de bois, du pétrole et autres sources énergétiques traditionnelles. Ainsi la femme et la jeune fille sont condamnés à faire du feu et à alimenter la maison. L'homme se considérant supérieur à la femme. L'utilisation des énergies renouvelables permet à la femme et à la jeune fille de cultiver des facilités pour l'éclairage et pour la cuisine. Cette modernisation énergétique est une opportunité pour l'homme de participer facilement à la cuisine et de contribuer à la survie du foyer. L'égalité du genre et l'utilisation des énergies ne peut être effective que par la distribution des énergies renouvelables dans les zones rurales avec un changement de comportement pour la promotion du genre et l'égalité du genre. L'éducation et la formation seront le chemin pour y arriver.
NGO: Amis des Etrangers au Togo (ADET)
Avenue Jean Paul II Lomé-Togo
Tel: +228 99495859 / 92473495


I would like to make a few remarks about the statement by Kristy Langerman:

“Studies confirm that failure to consider the different needs of women and men can limit the effectiveness of energy programmes and policies, as well as other development activities that involve energy use”.
This statement draws our attention to the interaction between social, technical and political processes.
Our experience is that the “different needs of women and men” and the prevailing technology interact within the economic and political conditions and combine in different ways in different contexts, to produce different domestic practices or usage patterns. The agency of women and men play a role in the eventual practice that emerges, and this practice, in turn, impacts on both women and men.
A few case studies are presented below.
In the 1990’s Nova did research on coal use in townships. The picture that emerged emphasised the importance of the coal stove. One woman said: “Even if there is no food, but there is fire, I am still happy, because the stove brings the family together”.
This coming together of the family was of huge importance in the process of urbanisation where it was feared that the traditional family was disintegrating. Coming together around the stove in the evening, where the mother is providing food and family members can talk about the events of the day, helped family members to restore their own sense of wellbeing and their mutual relationships. In such a process value transfer to children takes place. If however, the design of the house separates the kitchen from the dining room, it may happen that the elderly sit around the stove in the kitchen and the children watch TV in the dining room – resulting in a completely different process of socialising and value transfer.
The image that emerges from our present research, about 20 years later, is that the stove has become less prominent, while TV has become very prominent. In some families the children watch TV without their parents, while in some families the whole family watches TV together. The impact that this will have on family relations, values, and ways of thinking still has to be seen.
In 1996 Leslie Bank, B Mlomo and P Lujabe did research on energy use in low income households in metropolitan areas Eastern Cape.
In one area fire caused by paraffin was so common that the saying ’We live in paraffin and burn in it' had become a motto of despair for those who lived here. However, electrification projects did not bring the end of parafin use. Only 3% of the approximately 20% of households with electricity in their sample claimed to use electricity only. This means that 17% of the 20% were backswitching to other fuels.
Women backswitched to paraffin because lending and borrowing paraffin creates a social network that provides moral support and it allows them to mystify the household budget. That gave them power. Men were interested in the domestic electrical appliances and so tended or attempted to assert greater power in the inner domestic workings of their households in an arena of decision-making that was conventionally the domain of women. Men, on their part, welcomed paraffin because it is labour intensive and keeps women at home more than electricty did.
The researchers concluded: electrification unsettled the balance of interests and power which reinforced the social dominance of parafin
Conclusion: In a context where a number of diverse factors interact, introducing new energy technology may lead to a rearrangement of “the different needs of women and men” as well as the power they have. For long term success it is important to consider the whole picture and not only the technical performance of energy technology. Not only tecnical innovation is needed, the technolgy must function in a life-giving way in the household. Finding such domestic practices can only be done with households.

I couldn't agree more with you. Let me just make some "cleaning" in some statements to avoid misunderstandings. The process of technology choice and technology development must consider the issues you raised. The technology appropriateness is closely linked to the users and societal/local values. Western technology (light bulbs, bicycles, cars, domestic appliances) is socially constructed in the context it is generated. The same is true for the traditional technologies and knowledge, full of wisdom, practical observation and cultural values. Pastoralism and traditional agriculture are full of appropriate solutions. So, an appropriate technical innovation takes sociological, antropological and other relevant issues into consideration in deciding which technology to be selected and in deciding the generation of new technologies. We must break the "technicality"-centered aspect of technology. The overall mindset still believes in the neutrality of technology and a lot of energy access or any other programs are based in this hugely equivocate rationale (good-intended or not...). And for this reason I have a huger fear that Energy for All and other activities to attain the SDGs will prominently fail in delivering what they are meant to achieve and even worsen the situation.

This statement indicating that studies confirm that failure to consider the different needs of women and men can limit the effectiveness of energy programmes and policies, as well as other development activities that involve energy use is so true.
Having an experience working in developmental projects in Zambia (energy +water), I learnt that it is very important to understand the unique needs and expectations from the receiving communities in order for a project to be a success. Sustainable utilization for the vulnerable societies means first of all capacity building (training) in understanding the O &M systems being implemented in off grid areas (Solar, wind, bio energy etc),transparent stakeholder communication channels( such as bottom-up approaches),resilient and efficient systems and affordable subsidized energy solutions. Both men and women in these societies can be identified, those with the zeal and entrepreneurial skills can be good targets to empower. For example in Zambia women are depending on small gardens to grow fruits and vegetables to sell as income sources to feed families and in areas with no flowing or seasonal rivers they face challenges in abstracting water from aquifers. But for social economic benefits these people can be empowered to expand their businesses by giving them incentives at purchasing efficient energy solutions like solar engineered pumps to increase their production. This can be a plus for the banks in assessment of other risk factors. In conclusion, I can mention that more also needs to be emphasized in our country policy frameworks, to be very clear in what is set for the receiving environments including the coordination.

Environmental Scientist at ZESCO Limited in Zambia.
MSc Student in Integrated Water Resource Management
University of Daresaalam, Tanzania
College of Engineering and Technology
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Dear Milika, the "challenges in abstracting water from aquifers" can be addressed in several ways: you mentioned solar pumps, but firstly there must be a technology assessment (with pleniful local participation) to verify which is the more apropriate technology for them (not only technical and economic aspects, but either from a cultural, sociological and antropological standpoint). There are technologies such as low-cost wind turbines and human/animal powered water pumps for instance that could be used instead of solar. Which one(s) of them is(are) more appropriate? So, we need to be careful on technology choice in talking about energy programs.

How can the Bank support sustainable energy for women?

Energy is a critical binding constraint for economic growth, hence it tends to be prioritized in the National Development Plans as a strategic area for investment in most countries. Despite this, the focus of most Regional Member countries has been on bulk energy, or energy to drive industrialization (energy for production at the macro-level), and less focus has been put on domestic energy, hence the forgotten element is the micro-level energy required for household utilization, which ideally is the responsibility for women.

While it is true that women and girls are responsible for energy procurement, and usage especially cooking fuels; it has be to emphasized that most women in SSA reside in rural areas. Their energy utilization at household level tends to be for cooking, lighting, domestic use and small SMEs. The current energy source in rural areas tends to be wood fuel, cow dung and remains from crop agriculture. The following are suggestions of Bank support to the energy for women:

1) The justification for intervention in the energy sector: In most SSA, the national energy access stands at about 15%, implying more than 85% are energy excluded. With the declining forest cover and weather volatilities, household energy consumption needs to focus on increased smart clean energy solutions to remedy household pollution and provide better respiratory health; small lighting and cellphone charging devices.
2) Technology design: In practice, a typical rural woman fetches wood fuel on her way back from her gardens. Therefore, the clean energy technologies adopted should not deviate from quick wood fuel currently predominantly used by women in rural areas. The focus should be on household energy usage for cooking, lighting and SMEs (Food agro-processing). In designing the improved cooking stoves, rural women must be consulted on the issue of affordability, stove design, and ensure minimum deviation from the traditional food preparation methodology. For instance, In Uganda, most of the “Bantu” ethnic groups eat mashed green bananas/plantain known as “Matooke cooked by low grade steaming on charcoal stove or firewood. This food must steam for over 5hours to give it the flavor and aroma before it is served. The general belief is that once prepared on gas or electric cookers, then the taste aroma and tastes will change. In considering the clean stove designs, traditional staple foods and food preparation temperatures must be taken into consideration.
3) Economic empowerment of women in the energy value chain – this has to be linked to agro-processing of crops identified as strategic export crop enterprises for value addition, e.g rice, palm oil, maize, and other priority products. Also women in the wood value chain, as well as solar production and bio-gas production could be supported by the Bank.
4) Renewable energy/Efficiency: Energy entrepreneurs in the value chain should look into efficiency of the cooking stoves, in terms of the speed for cooking e.g firewood cooks fast, so a replacement bio-gas could serve the same purpose. The ultimate solution lies in the use of renewable energy.
5) “Bottom of the pyramid approach”: The Bank could design programmes which tackle SME financing to entrepreneurs that focus on the “Bottom of the pyramid approach” or the majority poor women at rural household level. Can the support to microfinance institutions and lines of credit to commercial banks be linked to energy SMEs?
6) Delivery channel – The Bank could assist in designing business supply chains for the supply of energy. It doesn’t have to be on-grid, since grid energy extremely expensive – implying support to Renewable energy. The Bank could otherwise support grid interconnection projects to help in distributing high voltage electricity generated.
7) Tariff reform – Most energy loss is a result of the high unit cost for electricity generated, since most households cannot afford expensive electricity. Power partnership agreements should be negotiated as part of the energy reforms in Regional Member countries.
8) Include clean cooking in the National Development plans.

I wrote in Phase 1 of the Light up and Power Africa discussion ( about the development of a new mechanism to support adaptation and I wanted to update the group following CoP23.
In short, we are making good progress on the creation of this mechanism. In the following submission, after a brief recap about the mechanism, I will address two topics: 1) how could the mechanism help deliver gender equality in energy and 2) how we plan to take it forward. Brief recap: The Adaptation Benefit Mechanism is designed to send a market signal to project developers to invest in activities which deliver adaptation benefits - broadly defined as anything which makes households, communities and economies better able to cope with climate change. The CDM (Clean development Mechanism) was a process of creating numbers in an electronic registry fuelled by demand from the Kyoto Protocol and the EU ETS. The ABM similarly creates numbers in a registry. However there are two key differences to the CDM: The units are not commoditized, homogenous or fungible (there is no need since there is no compliance mechanism); and since they are not the primary accounting unit of the Paris Agreement, they do not interfere with host country actions. These units are for sale for sale to donors, impact investors and CSR actors (i.e. anyone). These buyers should buy Adaptation Benefit Units (ABUs) because in doing so, they help real people adapt to real climate change and at the same time, help deliver the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and (through the creation of mitigation co-benefits) help host Parties meet their Paris Agreements. See more here: (this was, I think, the Bank's first ever submission in response to a call for input from the UNFCCC).
More details are available at

Ayotomiwa Alabi's picture

Unfortunately in my country, not much has been done to promote sustainability in the use of clean energy resources by women. More focus is placed on urban communities and projects feeding the national grid, while neglecting rural community which is home to over 50% of our estimated population of 183 million.

Women targeted projects could go a long way at promoting energy sustainability and the use of clean energy resources. The intervention of Masai women in Kenya is one experience I have come to appreciate. These women understand their energy challenge better are creating the awareness amongst themselves. So far outstanding success has been recorded.

For AFDB, other sister DFI and MDBs to achieve the set 2025 target, focus should be placed on women, especially women who are below the social pyramid, these are women in rural communities who are located in off-grid communities, who cook with firewood and light their homes with kerosene and candle sticks.

East Africa has and still making progress in sensitizing, awareness creation and funding clean energy initiatives. The rest of Africa could learn from their experiences and models.

Supporting women targeted initiatives and projects could help reduce energy poverty among vulnerable African women.

Je voudrais faire un dernier commentaire sur la manière efficace dont la banque pourrait soutenir l'action des femmes.
La Banque pourrait créer un fonds de garantie pour le financement des femmes pour l'accès aux sources d'énergie durable.
En plus des mes activités professionelles, je dirige une micro finance axée sur l'aide aux femmes dans les zones rurales. Voila un axe d'action important. Cela permettra des aides de proximité pour les petits projets.
Nous pourrions développer les mécanismes tirés de l'experience.
Merci pour ces échanges. Il y a bcp a dire et plus a faire. Il faut de vraies volontés politiques moins partisanes.

Jennifer Uchendu's picture

Hello everyone,
I have taken my time to read everyone's comment as this is a subject matter that is very dear to my heart. I am happy that the world is now seeing links to african women development and sustainable development. I agree with most of the points above, there is a funding gap that is not letting a lot entrepreneurs fully delve into this space but even more alarming in the role of media in the mix, how does the woman in the village without a smart phone (but has a radio and a phone) know about these cleaner options if they are not given to her ? There is a big gap in people communicating sustainability and communicating it to the people who matter most.

Jennifer Uchendu
Founder: SustyVibes