Better access to affordable energy is vital to improve the prospects for Africa's poor. Currently, the poor - most of whom are in rural areas - use traditional biomass to meet their cooking needs. The problem is that African energy policy is much more oriented towards elite uses rather than the majority of people. The bulk of government expenditure is going towards large-scale hydro, oil and gas investments.
The Africa Energy Policy Research Network (AFRPREN) is working to promote a more pro-poor and evidence-based policy framework. AFREPREN brings together 106 African energy researchers and policy makers from Africa who have a long-term interest in energy research and progressive policy-making.
As part of a broader collaboration, AFREPREN and ODI are working on a Policy Engagement project trying to promote more pro-poor and evidence-based energy policy in Kenya. Based on AFREPREN research, the main aim is to reduce the import tax and VAT on kerosene stoves, thereby making such stoves affordable. The AFREPREN director is currently chair of a taskforce negotiating a performance framework between the Office of the President and Ministry of Energy. Progress so far has included that a target on reducing kerosene stove taxes has been included in the performance framework for the Ministry of Energy. The challenge now is to actually get the change through cabinet and into policy.