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Offering clean cooking fuel to low income households

  • By Mercy Mumo
  • August 22, 2018
  • 0 Comment

Koko Networks commercially soft-launched its technology suite in Nairobi in mid-2017. KOKO’s first offering to mass-market consumers and local retailers is a liquid ethanol cooking fuel solution.  KOKO deploys networks of “KOKOpoint” Fuel ATMs inside local shops, and customers dock their SmartCook fuel canisters with the KOKOpoints in order to buy fuel.  

Consumers then return home to dock their canisters with KOKO’s SmartCook ethanol stove.   KOKOpoints are refilled by KOKO’s fuel partner, Vivo Energy Kenya, and KOKO’s Cloud Software suite controls the flow of fuel, information and payments through the last mile.  Customers using SmartCook are able to have a clean, modern, affordable and safe cooking experience.   

KOKO’s commercial Soft Launch involved deploying KOKOpoints in 12 neighbourhoods across Nairobi, and releasing just 1,000 stoves to customers in those neighbourhoods.  The purpose of the Soft Launch was to demonstrate the technology working at a reasonable scale, to run a competitive process for securing a wholesale fuel supply partner, and to build up the pipeline of shopkeepers who seek to partner with KOKO for its commercial Hard Launch in 2019.

Greg Murray, CEO of KOKO Networks, said: “KCIC supported us with the Proof of Concept (PoC) financing of $43,100 towards a test rollout of our technology in the Kangemi neighbourhood, ahead of our commercial Soft Launch across Nairobi.  The commercial Soft Launch achieved all of its objectives during the course of 2018.  

The grant was used to pilot an innovative fuel distribution technology to enable the uptake of bioethanol in low income households in Kangemi area in Nairobi. 

Th aim of the PoC was to facbricate and manufacture ethanol cook stoves and ethanol dispensing machines. The project was successful in that they were able to pilot its sixth prototype of the cook stoves which was much safer than the earlier versions and dispense various ethanol dispensers. A total of 30 stoves and canisters were distributed in the target area during the period. From the PoC, one fuel depot was constructed and a micro tanker purchased.

“We have been able to gain deep insight into customer behavior across a wide variety of Nairobi neighbourhoods, whilst building the pipeline of shopkeepers ahead of the commercial Hard Launch.  We appreciate KCIC’s support and believe they play a critical role in the Kenyan climate technology and innovation ecosystem,” added Murray.

This innovation has helped to mitigate climate change through reduced emission of greenhouse gases and reduced deforestation. Ethanol has no emissions thus it is a fuel that is able to mitigate carbon emissions. With the planned increase of fuel costs in Kenya, ethanol may just be the solution especially for the low income households that still rely on paraffin for lighting and cooking.

Image courtesy: Business Daily

By Mercy Mumo