Wood fuel remains the primary cooking-fuel for one-third of the world’s population, posing not only a burden on women’s health and time, but also negatively impacting forests, wildlife and the global climate. With growing access to electricity, our Randomized Control Trial asks whether electric cooking can replace cooking with charcoal in the context of a low-income country.

We randomly distribute 1,034 Electric Pressure Cookers (EPC) to households connected to a green electricity grid in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, where over 90% of the population relies on charcoal for cooking. This charcoal is mostly produced illegally in protected forests and serves as an income source for armed groups. We use a distribution model with a 100% subsidy provided by Virunga Energies. This full subsidy allows us to evaluate if households widely adopt electric cooking when financial barriers are removed. 

We evaluate the impact of grid electrification on economic development, security and conservation. Our case study focuses on rural and urban communities nearby Virunga National Park, in Eastern Congo. The electricity is generated by hydropower plants and the roll-out of the grid is implemented by Virunga Energies. To learn about the causal effect of electrification, we rely on original survey data from close to 2,000 households and 700 businesses.

Jobs and violence

Can job creation help decrease violence in conflict-affected regions? The construction of the hydropower plants in North-Kivu generated nearly 60,000 one-month labor contracts for residents of the hosting chiefdoms. To quantify the impact on violence, we analyze close to 9,000 conflict events from 2009 to 2022 across 21 chiefdoms in North-Kivu, comparing trends and patterns of violence between ‘treated’ and ‘comparison’ chiefdoms.

Ongoing work

“Electric Cooking and Sustainable Development: Experimental Evidence from Eastern DR Congo” AEA RCT Registry
With S. Desbureaux, L. Collart, M. Verpoorten, R. Soubeyran, M. Couttenier, N. Shinagawa, J.K. Mulwahili and C. Musharhamina 

“Powering development, stabilisation and conservation? The impact of electricity roll-out in Eastern Congo” Egap Registry
With E. Lunanga, E. Maombi, and M. Verpoorten.

“Jobs and Violence: Evidence from a Policy Experiment in DR Congo” IOB Policy Brief, 2024. 
With M. Verpoorten Policy Brief