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N9.2bn Clean Cook-Stove Project Controversy Worries Group

The Nigerian Alliance for Clean Cook-stoves, a public-private partnership to save lives, forests and empower women by providing safe and sustainable cooking solutions to households and institutions in the country, is seeking support for the clean energy initiative.
The alliance, which seeks to achieve clean energy goals by influencing public policies, says it is deeply concerned over the implementation of the Federal Government’s N9.2bn clean cook-stove project.
The NACC stated in a statement made available to our correspondent that its partners had expressed worries that the controversy created by the alleged lack of transparency and accountability in the award and implementation of the project would damage the reputation of the emerging clean energy industry.
The statement read in part, “Over 95,000 Nigerians, mostly women and children, die annually from smoke from the kitchen. This is Nigeria’s third highest killer after malaria and HIV/AIDS. In addition, Nigeria loses three per cent of its forests annually partly as result of the cutting of trees for firewood. If the N9.2bn set aside for this project was properly used, the lives of thousands of Nigerians and our forests will be saved and our women and youths will be empowered with new job opportunities.
“Partners of the alliance are worried that controversies created by the alleged lack of transparency and accountability in the award and implementation of the N9.2bn project will damage the reputation of this emerging clean energy industry.
“Further, we are also concerned that the initiative focuses on the importation of stoves that can easily be produced by Nigerians. By investing this money in Nigeria, we could have created thousands of new jobs and supported new and existing small businesses.”
The group added that it was further concerned about the impacts of the free distribution of stoves on the local industry as many partners had seen the sale of their clean cooking energy products plunge as a result of the anticipation of free stoves from the government.
The NACC recommended that the Federal Government should invest the remaining N7.3bn of the contract sum in domestic clean cooking energy production and distribution.
“These funds should go to soft loans, working capital and machineries, grants for training and capacity building as well as public awareness. The aim will be to expand the local distribution of cooking gas (LPG) and biofuels as well as the local production and distribution of efficient wood and charcoal stoves,” the NACC noted in the statement.
It added that despite a challenging business environment, companies were expanding the production of clean cooking fuels such as LPG, ethanol and efficient wood and charcoal stoves, and that over the past year, LPG consumption had experienced double digit growth, but that less than five per cent of households were using this locally produced cooking gas.
It added, “Ethanol companies have set ambitious expansion plans but continue to struggle with access to finance. Several entrepreneurs are struggling to finance expansion plans for their ceramic, mud and metal efficient wood and charcoal stoves. Re-directing part of the N9.2bn funding to local production and distribution will empower these companies to help save lives and our environment as well as create jobs for women and youths.
“By investing the remaining N7.3bn of this contract sum in local production, the Federal Government will create over 100,000 new direct and indirect jobs, and support at least 5,000 new small businesses. At least half of this amount should be dedicated to women and youth entrepreneurship programmes for the production of clean cook-stoves, using locally available raw materials.”
The alliance proposed that the already procured stoves be set aside for high value humanitarian purposes such as support for Internally Displaced Persons.

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