Africa is lagging behind in achieving SDG-7

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal-7 (SDG-7) sets the ambitious goal of affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all, by 2030’. The importance of this for health, development and protection of the environment cannot be overstated – as illustrated here:

Sustainable Development Goal 7_Affordable and Clean Energy

Sustainable Development Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has repeatedly warned that Africa is way off realising this goal. In Africa Energy Outlook (2022), the Agency sets out a ‘Sustainable Africa Scenario’, encompassing the policies, energy sources and investment needed for achieving this vital clean energy transition. For cooking, this envisages that by 2030 one third of homes would be using LPG, 10% electricity, 10% biogas and 6% alcohol fuels, leaving 41% still using solid biomass albeit in more efficient, cleaner stoves.

The case for LPG in a twin-track strategy

LPG may be a fossil fuel, but due to highly efficient combustion, it’s one of the cleanest in terms of climate warming emissions. In addition, and unlike biomass fuel, LPG does not put pressure on forest reserves. Crucially, this fuel is available now in the quantities needed to meet the clean cooking needs of a majority of African homes. In this article in The Conversation, and in earlier posts, we review the case for LPG, including the impacts on climate and forests, and conclude that this abundant, clean, and convenient fuel needs to be promoted now, as part of a twin-track energy transition strategy. This would see rapid expansion of LPG markets and access (including through initiatives such as pay-as-you-go) to get Africa back on track towards achieving SDG-7. At the same time, investment in renewables (including BioLPG) can help ensure these energy sources progressively replace fossil fuels between now and 2050.

Unloading LPG cylinders at the central GlocalGaz depot in Yaounde, Cameroon

Unloading LPG cylinders at the central GlocalGaz depot in Yaounde, Cameroon


Many African countries are taking action

While the international community debates the issues around clean energy, climate change and development, many African countries are already working toward these goals. For example, Kenya – a country with an impressive record on renewable electricity generation has recently announced plans to build new LPG import and storage facilities and subsidise cylinders to help poorer households switch to this clean cooking fuel. 

Cooking with LPG, Langas, Kenya

Cooking with LPG, Langas, Kenya


The ‘number one’ issue for the Continent

The IEA believes that the clean cooking energy transition is so important for the continent of Africa that Fatih Birol, the agency’s Executive Director, has asked the European Union to back a clean cooking initiative for Africa at the upcoming COP 28 climate summit in Dubai. In fact, he believes “this is the number one issue for the continent”, referring to the numbers of deaths and the impacts on the environment. 

“Fixing this problem once and forever would cost €4 billion … and today, total European ODA to Africa is €25 billion, ” he said, suggesting that this level of funding was realistic for overseas development aid budgets.

It’s time to act.