Researchers in Loughborough University’s Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology have predicted that over 1.1 billion people living in Africa by 2050 are likely not to have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies.
The study is titled, “Using machine learning to expound energy poverty in the Global South: Understanding and Predicting Access to Cooking with Clean Energy.”
The researchers deployed machine learning – a branch of artificial intelligence – to create a computer model that forecasts future clean cooking scenarios in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Utilizing comprehensive historical country-level datasets, the model operates by examining trends in population growth and assessing various factors affecting access to clean cooking, including the availability and affordability of electricity.
According to the computer model’s projections, by 2030, over 840 million individuals in Africa will still lack access to clean cooking fuels or technologies.
This number is expected to increase further, surpassing 1.1 billion people by the year 2050.
Currently, around 980million people in Africa still use firewood, agricultural waste, coal, animal dung, etc. as fuel for cooking according to a report by the IEA in partnership with the African Development Bank Group
Cost of achieving 80% clean cooking in Africa
The computer AI model predicted that clean energy access will increase in some parts of Africa, but the figure will be less than 20% of the population in 16 countries by 2030 and a similar percentage in 18 countries by 2050.
The head of the research Mulako Mukelabai and Dr Richard Blanchard together with Professor Upul Wijayantha opine that access to electricity does not count as reflecting high access to clean cooking fuels as factors such as high tariff rate discourages users.
They also predict that electricity generation needs to triple if Sub-Saharan African countries are to achieve their target of ensuring 80% of their population access to clean cooking.
The team’s estimation suggests that achieving an 80% access rate in all countries by 2030 would necessitate a total investment of $14.5 trillion, equivalent to an annual expenditure of $2.1 trillion.
What the researchers say
Speaking on the research, Mulako Mukelabai said,
- “The findings of this study evidence the need for rapid paradigm shifts in the developing world energy sciences to address energy poverty.
- “We must act as the slow-moving access rate to clean cooking causes deforestation, habitat loss, indoor pollution, inequality, sustains low economic activities, and causes about 3.2 million deaths per year, including over 237,000 deaths of children under the age of five in 2020.”
- “A fundamental approach that focuses on improving and sustaining the financial capacity of households through a systems approach is needed so people can afford electricity or fuels for cooking.”