Household use of bottled gas for cooking : evidence from Sub-Saharan Africa

Analysis of household energy use has tended to focus on primary energy sources for cooking, lighting, and heating. However, even those using clean primary energy sources are not necessarily free from household air pollution and the burden of biomass collection because of commonly practiced fuel stacking. This paper examines household energy use in 24 Sub-Saharan African countries with a focus on bottled cooking gas, which is expected to play a pivotal role in the attainment of universal access to clean household energy by 2030. The share of people using clean energy (electricity and gas) as the primary source exceeded half only in five countries, with liquefied petroleum gas dominating in three and electricity in two. As income rose, households shifted away from wood in every country, to clean energy in most countries and to charcoal in some. Of the 12 countries (nationally or in urban areas) in which at least one-fifth of the population used liquefied petroleum gas as their primary cooking fuel, more than three-fifths of primary liquefied petroleum gas users had abandoned polluting fuels in five countries. Within per capita expenditure quintiles, households who had abandoned all polluting fuels were consistently smaller than those who continued to use polluting fuels, mainly charcoal or kerosene, perhaps pointing to the ease of cooking for small families exclusively with liquefied petroleum gas and electricity. However, liquefied petroleum gas–using households in the top expenditure quintile who had not abandoned polluting fuels were on average smaller than those in the fourth quintile who had abandoned polluting fuels. These findings point to reasons for fuel stacking that seem to go beyond the question of affordability.