Experiences of electric pressure cookers in East Africa

This paper seeks to highlight the emerging opportunity for manufacturers to enter the largely untapped market for efficient electric cooking appliances such as the Electric Pressure Cooker (EPC) in East and Southern Africa. The paper is an output of the UK Aid1 programme Modern Energy Cooking Services, a 5 year programme of work (2018 – 2023) led by Loughborough University. In East Africa, electricity networks are growing stronger and broader, opening up electric cooking to an almost entirely untapped market particularly in urban areas that are still dominated by charcoal. In each country, approximately 10 million people pay for polluting cooking fuels, yet they have a grid connection that is not used for cooking. Historically this has been due to the pricing and unreliability of the grids. As Grids get stronger and appliances more efficient the affordability and convenience of electric cooking is becoming more realistic. In Southern Africa, electric cooking has been and is more popular, however inefficient appliances are placing a heavy strain on national utilities, many of whom are now looking to manage demand more sustainably. Again, the advent of energy efficient appliances changes the dynamic for the household. Cooking is deeply cultural and any new energy efficient cooking devices must be compatible with local foods and cooking practices. This paper presents insights from cooking diaries, focus groups and ‘kitchen laboratory’ experiments carried out in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia. The results show that EPCs are not only acceptable, but highly desirable. Over 90% of the menu can be cooked in an EPC and certain foods require just one fifth of the energy of a hotplate. In real homes, participants with EPCs, rice cookers and hotplates chose the efficient appliances for approximately half their menu and for these dishes, they used roughly half the energy of the hotplate. Without training and with limited experience of the new devices, the trial participants in Kenya who cooked solely on electricity had a median daily consumption of 1.4kWh/household/day, and the cooking of 50% of the menu on an EPC utilised 0.47kWh/household/day of that total. Given that EPCs could have cooked 90% of the desired menu, with appropriate training and broader experience, the median could have been reduced to less than 1kwh/day/household. This research feeds into a new UK Aid programme, Modern Energy Cooking Services and concludes with recommended design modifications that could enable users to do more cooking with EPCs and open up sizeable new market segments including strengthening weak-grid and off-grid.

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0