Rwandan homes are unnecessarily spending more than they should by owing gas cookers and bags of charcoal at the same time, says Environment Minister Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya.
She said Thursday at a press conference that government is working on a scheme to stop use of charcoal in the capital Kigali.
According to her, the use of charcoal is not only among poor families as it has been widely believed. The well-to-do homes also still buy and use charcoal especially for cooking dry beans, said the Minister.
“Let me help those who still cook beans on charcoal. There is no need to cook them for over 3 hours by charcoal. You can have them ready in 50mins on gas,” said Dr Mujawamariya.
In her own words, she said the beans should always be soaked in water the previous night and cooked the following day together with other meals to be eaten that day.
“We are no longer still in the era of cooking beans for 3hours or 5 hours or more,” said the Minister as she announced several climate change control initiatives.
Government’s power provider REG is scheduled to begin a “Pay As You Cook” system targeting the poorest in Kigali, allowing them to buy gas for as low as Rwf 200 ($0.2). They can purchase gas whenever they want to cook, as that is what they do with charcoal, since they don’t usually have money at hand all the time.
For past several years, there has been tremendous growth in the use of gas as replacement for charcoal and firewood. However, the vast majority cannot afford gas. Besides gas cannot be bought in small quantities.
The gas is measured and sold in different Can sizes with the smallest going for as much as Rwf 6,000, and large one for Rwf 13,500. A sack of charcoal goes for as much as Rwf 17,000 depending on where you are located.
When compared, the gas lasts long than the charcoal. In many families, to keep the gas Can for much longer, they also buy small quantities of charcoal from neighborhood retailers, which they use to cook foods like dry beans which take long.
Some charcoal is produced locally in Rwanda, but the biggest portion of charcoal serving Rwanda comes from eastern DR Congo. Coincidentally, from areas controlled by Rwandan FDLR rebels. They make millions of dollars from this charcoal business.