ENERGY USE IN THE INFORMAL FOOD SECTOR: Charcoal and butane gas keep the flame

Enda Energy organized yesterday a workshop on sharing and informing on the results of the Program Research “Gender and Productive Uses of Energy in the informal food sector”. It shows that in their activities, the overwhelming majority of these businesses have a preference for charcoal and butane gas.

Energy services have not yet really been monitored in the informal food sector. As a result, there is little quantitative empirical evidence and certification despite existing studies and statistics. On the basis of these observations, a research consortium composed of the University of Cape Town (South Africa), Marge (Rwanda) and Enda Energie, coordinated by the University of Twente (Netherlands), has been implementing since 2015 a research program entitled “Gender and Productive Use of Energy in the Informal Food Sector in South Africa, Rwanda and Senegal”. Through this research work, the objective is to provide both quantitative and qualitative answers on the energy transition in the informal food sector.

In Senegal, the survey covered 275 enterprises, of which 80% are led by women. “The idea is to see the types of energy used in these enterprises that cook food but also process other types of agricultural products. This, in order to identify the energy needs, the ways and means to satisfy them and the possibilities of energy transition “, explained Secou Sarr, Director of Enda Energie during the workshop held yesterday on sharing and informing on results of this Research Program.

This study shows that most of these informal food businesses have a preference for charcoal and gas. They also make energy mixes by combining charcoal and butane gas, or wood and charcoal. As for conservation techniques, only 20% of respondents use modern means (refrigerators), while 46% of them do not use any conservation techniques. Another indication, the majority of respondents sell food in the street. The same trends are noted in South Africa and Rwanda.

With this study, Senegal now has empirical and reliable data on a sector previously poorly informed in terms of statistics. “Senegal’s energy balance is dominated by wood and charcoal, and energy surveys often do not focus on this kind of informal sector that often escapes national statistics. So the goal was to collect information for feeding the energy information system with a view to analyze the energy transition from a gender perspective, “added the Director of Enda Energie.

Ms. Nthabi Mohlakoana of the University of Twente, advocates the translation of these results into public policies. Indeed, she believes, as far as health issues are concerned, it is time to put an end to the use of artisanal energy sources by women. “This research does not only propose statistics, it also proposes solutions to better impact grassroots development,” she said.

Fatou Thiam SOW from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy thinks the same way. According to her, the results of this research are a decision-making tool for the State and its partners in a context where access to electricity and energy in general remains a luxury for a good fringe of the population especially in rural areas. “In our country, the majority of the population, especially in rural areas, does not have access to energy, and the ANSD census showed that it is in the areas where the electrification rate is lower, that there are fewer economic units. This is where we do the least. So there is a correlation between access to energy and entrepreneurship, and in a country, if you do not get started, you cannot achieve the economic goals you set. Hence the importance of this study, “she said.