African households ready to switch from biomass to ethanol for cooking

Press release: 14 April 2011

A new research report shows that African households are ready to switch from biomass to ethanol cooking stoves. Stockholm Environment Institute presents the report “Will African Consumers Buy Cleaner Fuels and Stoves?” at the EU Sustainable Energy Week in Brussels. Globally, an estimated 2.4 billion people rely on the traditional use of biomass fuels for cooking. This heavy dependence on biomass has serious health, socioeconomic, climate and environmental consequences.

In an effort to support the transition to clean and safe cooking fuels and stoves, SEI researchers developed a survey tool to better understand the choice of cooking stoves at the individual level. This methodology was successfully applied in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Mozambique. The research has generated key information for stove producers, NGOs working to promote alternative cooking technologies, and policy makers interested in supporting local markets for domestically produced alternative fuels such as ethanol.

Despite the numerous benefits associated with cleaner alternatives, the transition to improved cooking stoves and fuels has largely stalled in Sub-Saharan Africa. Why is it that well-designed, efficient and clean stoves often fail to penetrate the market in developing countries? In order to design effective policies and programs to promote the use of cleaner cooking alternatives, the barriers to improved cooking technologies must be understood at the household level.

“To date, research regarding the determinants of stove choice at the household level has focused mainly on socio-economic attributes, such as income, age, gender and education” says SEI researcher Fiona Lambe, “while the role of product-specific attributes, such as safety, indoor smoke, usage cost and stove price, have been given less attention.”

The results of the study demonstrate the insights that can be gained from detailed consumer choice analysis, and that these insights can support policy makers and cooking stove programme designers who are interested in evaluating markets for new stoves and cooking fuels.

“We must see how ethanol stoves in developing countries can save millions of lives and significantly contribute to improving the quality of life in these regions” says MEP Christofer Fjellner.

SEI presents the research report at the European Parliament in Brussels, as part of the event “Clearing the Smoke: Promotion of CleanCook Ethanol Fuel Stoves in Developing Countries” at the EU Sustainable Energy Week. (Event link:


Photos: Fiona Lambe, SEI Research Associate || Woman cooking on ethanol stove in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (Photo credit: Gaia)

Media contacts:

Ian Caldwell, SEI Communications (+46-8-674-7460,

Fiona Lambe, Research Associate and report author (+46-8-674-7425,

Download the SEI research report “Will African Consumers Buy Cleaner Fuels and Stoves?” -

Stockholm Environment Institute is an independent international research institute. The Institute has established a reputation for rigorous and objective scientific analysis in the field of environment and development. SEI’s goal is to bring about change for sustainable development by bridging science and policy. Further information at