Discussion Paper

Determinants of Household Fuel Choice in Major Cities in Ethiopia

Aug 15, 2008 | Alemu Mekonnen, Gunnar Kohlin

This was created in partnership with Environment for Development .


This paper looks at the fuel choice of urban households in major Ethiopian cities, using panel data collected in 2000 and 2004. It examines use of multiple fuels by households in some detail, a topicnot much explored in the household fuel-choice literature in general, and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. The results suggest that as households’ total expenditures rise, they increase the number of fuels used, even in urban areas, and they also spend more on the fuels they consume (including charcoal but not wood). The results also show that even fuel types such as wood are not inferior goods. The results support more recent arguments in the literature (using Latin American and Asian data) that multiple fuel use (fuel stacking) better describes fuel-choice behavior of households in developing countries, as opposed to the idea that households switch (completely) to other (more expensive but cleaner) fuels as their incomes rise. This study shows the relevance of fuel stacking (multiple fuel use)in urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa. While income is an important variable, the results of this studysuggest the need to consider other variables such as cooking and consumption habits, dependability of supply, cost, and household preferences and tastes to explain household fuel choice, as well as to recommend policies that address issues associated with household energy use.