Determinants of energy use in the informal food sector

Although enterprises in the informal food sector require energy to transform, cook and process food, energy-use patterns in this sector are not well understood by policymakers and the local-level authorities who regulate their trading activities. This paper reviews relevant literature and presents empirical data collected in Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa on the use of traditional and modern energy sources by informal food sector operators. Our sample includes male- and female-operated enterprises in the urban centres of three African countries where the informal food sector is important, not only for providing the convenience of affordable and readily prepared meals, but also as a source of income for women and men in developing countries. Multiple fuel-use and energy-stacking strategies are common among informal food enterprises and policy needs to acknowledge this if it is to intervene in ways that will benefit both enterprises and regulators.