The $5 cooker uses the greenhouse effect to boil and bake. It consists of two cardboard boxes, one inside the other, with an acrylic cover that lets the sun’s power in and stops it escaping and doubles as a ‘hob top’. A layer of straw or newspaper between the boxes provides insulation, while black paint on the interior and the foil on the exterior concentrate the heat still further.

The design is so simple that the Kyoto Box can be produced in existing cardboard factories. It has just gone into production in a Nairobi factory that can produce 2.5 million boxes a month. A more durable model is being made from recycled plastic.

The inventor Jon Bøhmer's hope is that the cooker will be eligible for carbon credits – hence the name Kyoto Box. The €20-30 yearly profit per stove would be passed on to the users, meaning the device pays for itself.

“It’s all about scaling it up,” sums up Mr Bøhmer. “There’s no point in creating something that can only help a few million people. The needs are universal – everybody needs to cook.”

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An extract from FT.com
Author: Hannah Bullock, managing director of Green Futures