Solar-Electric Cooking Partnership (SOLCO) Pledge for the Global Refugee Forum 2023

The Solar-Electric Cooking Partnership (SOLCO), pledges to transition 250.000 households to solar-electric cooking, leveraging 100 million USD in financing across refugee-hosting countries in Africa by 2027.


In Africa, clean cooking remains a pressing challenge for displaced populations and their host communities. The potential of solar electric cooking offers a pathway to a sustainable future. Embracing this vision, the Solar-Electric Cooking Partnership (SOLCO) is dedicated to providing affordable and clean cooking solutions across the continent.

Traditional cooking fuels like charcoal and firewood have become increasingly costly, causing environmental and economic strain. In contrast, solar panels and batteries have become more affordable, making solar electric cooking a viable alternative. As a solar electric cooking system can address not only cooking but also charging and lighting needs, it enjoys higher appreciation by households compared to other solutions.  Recognizing their transformative power, SOLCO aims to scale up the use of solar-electric cooking technologies in multiple African countries.

Clean cooking not only improves household air quality with significant health benefits, but also reduces carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, combats deforestation, alleviates the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, and fosters economic development and job-creation. SOLCO envisions a future where these benefits reach communities far and wide. Through collaboration with governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector, SOLCO seeks to promote solar e-cooking technologies within a circular economy framework.

The partnership aims to develop sustainable energy delivery models by promoting technology transfer, a conducive enabling environment for technology maintenance, repair and recycling, driven by the local communities. By fostering local ownership and offering technical assistance to local partners, SOLCO aims to drive economic development, protect the environment, reduce gender disparity, and advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Attention will be given to the life cycle of the components, including manufacture, transportation, and recycling, ensuring more sustainable and ethical practices at each stage. 

Through solar e-cooking, we can usher in a new era of sustainable and affordable energy access, promoting healthier households, thriving ecosystems, and prosperous communities across Africa.


Detailed Pledge

SOLCO is a multi-stakeholder partnership committed to increasing access to clean and sustainable cooking solutions for displaced people and host community households across Africa. SOLCO will be implemented as part of the Global eCooking Coalition (GeCCo) - a global collaborative initiative led by the Modern Energy Cooking Services Programme (MECS), Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) and the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP).

Solar-electric cooking not only reduces household air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions but also addresses gender-based violence and deforestation while fostering economic development. Solar e-cooking technologies provide a sustainable and increasingly cost-effective solution (~75% price reduction over the last 15 years) to achieve these objectives while creating local employment opportunities. The average daily cost of cooking with solar has the potential to be around half that of using charcoal over a 5-year period, with financing at household level (direct asset financing) being key to overcome the relatively high up-front cost of solar-electric cooking technologies ranging from USD 200 to USD 800 per household. In addition, there are many emerging opportunities with carbon finance. By using digital data collection, actual use of the solar e-cooking systems can be verified, and carbon purchasers can be reassured that there is actual substitution for wood and charcoal.  While carbon prices are often below USD 10 per tonne, the Paris Agreement Article 6, which encourages government to government certification of carbon credits, has recently prompted deals at USD 30 per tonne.  Given each e-cooking system would save 2 to 4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per year, there are significant possibilities for financing. There may also be a market for clean cooking energy co-benefits of health and time savings – an area currently explored by MECS and the Clean Cooking Alliance (CCA), among others.

To achieve its vision, SOLCO will facilitate the establishment of cooperative or franchise models, promoting local ownership of assembly, sales, credit, and after-sales services. Collaborating with governments, civil society organizations, and the private sector, SOLCO seeks to promote solar e-cooking technologies within a circular economy framework, offering technical assistance and facilitating access to financing through cooperative structures.

Through partnerships and a competitive market, SOLCO envisions a financially self-sustainable model, ensuring long-term benefits for displaced people and host communities as customers and employees throughout the solar-electric cooking value chain. By leveraging international climate financing, SOLCO will support the implementation of sustainability strategies, aligning with key SDGs.

Launching initially in Uganda, SOLCO will advance investment-ready energy access projects aligned with the Sustainable Energy Response Plan for Refugees and Host Communities (SERP). Leveraging existing research and pilot studies, SOLCO will tailor solutions to specific contexts, emphasizing long-term maintenance and scalability. SOLCO aims to scale up solar-electric cooking solutions in at least eight African countries, enabling min. 250,000 households to access affordable solar e-cooking by 2027 by leveraging a total investment of min. USD 100 million.

SOLCO acknowledges the vital role of women's economic empowerment and the necessity of engaging with affected populations, particularly women and girls, to ensure equitable benefits from the shift to clean energy. We are committed to intentional planning that prioritizes women's economic empowerment throughout the clean energy transition. This means actively designing our initiatives to prevent the deepening of existing economic disparities and to replace traditional income-generating activities, like wood collection and selling, with sustainable alternatives. To this end, SOLCO will develop targeted strategies to ensure women are primary beneficiaries of the business opportunities arising from solar e-cooking technologies. These strategies will include promoting female entrepreneurship within the clean cooking value chain, providing women with access to finance and training, and ensuring women's participation in decision-making processes. By doing so, SOLCO will not only foster a more inclusive economic landscape but also amplify the positive impacts on household health, environmental conservation, and community resilience.

SOLCO will build on a series of roadmap reports for energy in displacement settings, produced by Global Platform for Action (GPA), funded by IKEA Foundation and implemented across several countries.

SOLCO has already engaged multiple stakeholders and actively seeks additional relevant stakeholders to join the partnership's efforts in scaling up clean cooking in Africa. With a commitment to clean cooking, SOLCO is dedicated to creating a more prosperous future for displaced and host communities aligned with national climate commitments and SDGs 3, 7, 8, and 13 targets.

If you would like to join and support this pledge, please contact: Jakob Øster, Executive Director, Last Mile Climate:

Last updated: 12/12/2023

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