In this interview, the Secretary, Board of Trustees, Betty Ugona shares their activities in the clean cookstoves sector.
Give us a brief introduction about your organisation. What are the objectives of your organisation?
Gas to Health Initiative (GTHI) is a non-profit and non-governmental organization with a firm resolve to bridge the gap between the private sector and government obligations. We set the ball rolling by promoting the growth of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) consumption in Nigeria. Our primary objective is to sensitize Nigerians on the benefits of using LPG as the best cooking fuel through massive awareness campaigns and free distribution of cylinders and its accessories.
We are a registered member of the Nigerian Liquefied Petroleum Gas Association (NLPGA) and Abuja Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ABUCCIMA).
What does your organisation seek to achieve in Nigeria’s cooking energy market?
We seek to ensure a rapid shift of the energy market towards LPG as the most efficient cooking fuel and simultaneously reduce environmental degradation and promote a healthier environment. We have piloted LPG cylinder distribution outreaches in Bayelsa, Anambra, Enugu, Benue, Gombe, Kano and Kwara states. We have also had outreaches with Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN) and Christian Care for Widows, Widowers, the Aged and Orphans Association (CCWA).
What are the opportunities in the business environment that have supported your organment that have supported your organisation’s involvement in the clean cookstove sector over the years?
We have partnered with some organizations and major plant owners to empower especially the women and promote the use of LP Gas.
How are your customers reacting to your products in the market – benefits of using your product?
Our product is cleaner and healthier than other cooking fuels. It is also very cheap, affordable and available. It is non-toxic and reduces indoor air pollution. In addition to the outreaches named earlier, we have also reached out to many local food vendors, commonly called “mama put”. Our beneficiaries have testified that our intervention was a life changing encounter for them. They all noted that they enjoy using LPG as it is incomparable to other fuels. Using LPG has been stress-free, improves their health, saves time, and it is very clean – no more soot in the house and kitchen, they all remarked.
Job creation and the empowerment of women seem to be increasingly important. How has your organization helped to drive employment generation and the empowerment of women?
Women empowerment is at the heart of all we do. We have empowered many women in the rural and urban areas by educating them on the safe use of LPG and have distributed over 5,000 LPG gadgets free of charge to the general public including women and local food vendors.
If you are asked to advise the federal government of Nigeria on policy options, what are the three most important things the government can do to expand the market?
GTHI believes that the federal government has an important role to play in the following areas:
• Relaxing some tax regimes that are currently stifling operators in the sector (by exempting VAT and reducing import duties on LPG and its accessories) so that LPG can be more affordable and domestic consumption can be increased.
• Take the lead in the development of infrastructure – this includes a ready logistic system to enable quick accessibility of the product, and a strong financial platform.
• Launch a national awareness campaign and women empowerment program.
If an enabling environment is not created by the government, what future risks do you envisage?
The task of achieving the needed growth in the nation’s LPG sector is a clarion call to all stakeholders in the industry and the government in particular. If an enabling environment is not created by the government, many Nigerians will depend heavily on the use of unclean fuels for cooking, such as firewood, charcoal and kerosene. This will increase the rate of deforestation and environmental degradation and hamper the growth of the economy.
Where do you envisage your organization to be in the next 5 years in terms of production?
Our future aspiration is to visit the unreached rural areas and create a massive awareness campaign, educate the masses on the benefits and uses of LPG as well as institute a coordinated sustainable cylinder distribution scheme.
In line with our objectives, in the next 5 years, GTHI will become and be rated as the foremost independent organization, promoting safe and healthy use of LPG, improving the health of people and increasing access to LPG throughout the nation.
What risk does your business face and what is your biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge is funding. As a non-governmental organization, we can only train and empower few people that our limited resources can accommodate.
What are your suggestions for moving the cooking energy market forward in Nigeria?
To move the cooking energy forward in Nigeria, more collaboration from the government agencies, stakeholders, NGO’s etc. is required. We also need more advocacy and empowerment program, especially for the low-income earners.
We call on all interested parties to partner with us in educating and creating awareness on the use of LPG in the 6 geo-political zones and on cylinder distribution.
Is there any other thing you would like to share?
Thanks for reaching out to Gas to Health Initiative, we are proud of the good work you are doing in promoting clean energy in Nigeria. We call on all stakeholders to partner with GTHI so we can achieve our laudable goal. You can see more of our activities and follow us via www.facebook.com/gastohealth