Kenya’s National Oil is set to unveil an ambitious cooking gas distribution and marketing project.

The initiative is estimated to cost Ksh. 5.6 billion per year and will see the introduction of 4.3 million new cooking gas cylinders into Kenyan households within 3 years.

The project dubbed “Mwananchi Gas” is a transformational project aimed at not only enhancing the uptake of cooking gas as the preferred source of household energy in the country but also addressing social, health and environmental challenges related to the domestic use of biomass energy.

A 2013 study by Dalberg Research estimates that 15,000 Kenyans die annually due to household air pollution while more than 40% of childhood deaths are linked to respiratory illnesses. Dalberg Research is a London based company that provides research and analytics on issues of global development, social impact and investment.

Through the Mwananchi Gas project National Oil aims to cut down the cost of 3kg and 6kg cooking gas packages by 64% and 61% respectively. The project will be financed from a mix of sources including internally generated revenues, debt and capital injection from partners.

“Through the Mwananchi Gas project, we target to raise cooking gas penetration in the country from the current 9% to 45% of total households in the next three years,” said Sumayya Hassan-Athmani, National Oil’s Chief Executive Officer.

Cooking gas consumption in Kenya ranks among the lowest in Africa with a per capita consumption of 2kg. This average is way below the continent’s average of 3kg. Senegal leads in Africa with 10kg followed by Ivory Coast and Ghana at 9kg and 5kg respectively.

“Low cooking gas uptake in Kenya is attributable to a mix of factors. Key among them being inadequate infrastructure, high cost of cooking and lighting equipment and a weak distribution network. These are the challenges we aim to address through the Mwananchi Gas initiative,” Sumayya added.

Over the 3 year project period, National Oil will distribute the 4.3 million cylinders mostly through women and youth groups thereby creating employment opportunities for 1,500 to 2,000 women and youth groups.

“Our goal is to enhance the quality of living for Kenyans. Mwananchi Gas project will help in the reduction of mortality associated with household air pollution by 50%, reduce deforestation and increase forest cover by 0.5% and promote entrepreneurship in the country,” Sumayya concluded.

To enhance the project’s social, economic, health and economic impacts, National Oil will carry out a sustained consumer campaign on safe handling and use of cooking gas The campaign will also highlight advantages of cooking gas over the traditional sources of household energy.

Through the Mwananchi Gas project, National Oil will support the national afforestation programme, contribute to the health sector through donation of medical equipment and carry out capacity building activities for women and youth groups interested in opening up distribution outlets for cooking gas.

Source: KNA