In this interview, the Country Director HBS; Christine K shares their activities in Nigeria.
Give us a brief introduction about your organisation. What are the objectives of your organisation?
The Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBS) works much like an international NGO. We are funded mostly by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation. We work in the 16 states of Germany and have 33 offices around the world. We are a political, green foundation with a lose affiliation to the German Green Party.
Everywhere we work, we look for development options that are good for people and the planet. Whilst that can include debates on de-growth in industrialized countries, supporting partners in protecting the rainforests in Latin America, giving a voice to women in Asian politics or lobbying carbon polluters at global level, in the Nigeria Office we currently focus mainly on Renewable Energies as a democratic means to grow local economies and on Participatory Urban Planning in Lagos.
What does your organisation seek to achieve in Nigeria’s cooking energy market?
Whilst we do not have concrete cookstove projects, we are part of the Cookstove Alliance because our ambition is to allow millions of Nigerians to cook without the smoke hazards, to scale up the cook stove market regardless of the model of stove, and thus to save the last remaining forests of Nigeria.
How are your beneficiaries reacting to your intervention in the various communities you are working in?
When we worked with Jigawa State (before the current regime), the uptake of ‘green policies’ materialized in the commissioning of 3 bakery ovens with CREEDS / Roshan companies. These ovens were the result of collaboration between the government, the Jigawa Chamber of Commerce and the Bakery Association. The ovens were successful, see our video documentation, but surprisingly, there was very little upscaling by other bakeries afterwards.
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?
As a political foundation, we are not mandated to intervene in commercial business, but we take pride in giving voice and space to successful women entrepreneurs like Happy Amos, see our video online.
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?
I would advise the Federal government to facilitate the establishment of a single digit interest rate facility for local production of clean cookstoves in Nigeria. The establishment of a single digit interest rate facility for local production of clean cookstoves will facilitate the growth of the industry.
In Nigeria, less than 5% of households use LPG for cooking, even though the country is a major producer and exporter of LPG. The Federal government should ensure that the new LPG policy supports the expansion of LPG use in Nigeria. Lastly, the federal government should encourage Safe Access to Clean Cookstoves and Fuels (SAFE) in humanitarian situations as well as support National Behaviour Change Campaign through radio and TV.
If an enabling environment is not created by government, what future risks do you envisage?
All forests will be gone!
Where do you envisage your organization to be in the next 5 years in the clean cookstoves sector?
Our dream… is to occupy an office in a passive building, generating more energy from renewable sources than we need for our own operations and feeding the excess energy into a mini grid which would extend just to our (large, green) compound. In this compound we would have 2 or 3 Mama Put working in a courtyard, under shady trees, working their pots in a smokeless environment and serving the same good old akara that we enjoy today. The office would feature a large meeting/ conference/wedding hall to show every Abujalite that clean energy satisfies every need. The compound would be lined with trees, providing generous shade… artistic water evaporation would cool down the environment even more. Half of the ACs would be off most of the time.
This dream shows how cookstoves are embedded in a cleaner, more sustainable future for Nigeria.
What is your biggest challenge in the Clean cookstove sector?
The combination of poverty (too busy to bother) with extreme wealth (too busy to bother).
What are your suggestions for moving the cooking energy market forward in Nigeria?
Holding the Ministry of Environment to account for the fast fading last forests of Nigeria. Continuing to make cookstoves a reliable business for small to medium investors.
Is there any other thing you would like to share?
The hbs is proud to be a member of the Nigerian Cookstove Alliance. Thanks for all your individual and collective hard work!