It is encouraging that the National Oil Corporation of Kenya has confirmed that the distribution of the six-kilogramme cooking gas cylinders targeting low-income households was to start yesterday after the government got an independent inspector. However, authorities need to look into consumer rights organisation Cofek’s demands for credible testing before the Sh3 billion project kicks off.
Under the plan, the cylinders are to be distributed at Sh2,000 against the commercial rate of Sh5,000. This is a step in the right direction, especially with the many health and social benefits tied to the use of clean energy for cooking, which stands at 30 percent in the country.
Based on the health gains, any steps to increase the liquefied petroleum gas uptake should be supported with the right policies, including safety and pricing.
However, it is important to note that having the cylinders alone is only covering half the distance in efforts to wean households off wood fuel and kerosene. A recent proposal to reintroduce value added tax on LPG is one of the policies akin to taking several steps backwards in the quest for cleaner fuel.
Using LPG would also only make sense if refilling is affordable and readily available to as many people as possible to reduce cost and convenience of access. We, therefore, urge the government to synchronise policies aimed at growing cooking gas use.