Nairobi, 6th June 2023 – The Eastern Africa Waste is Wealth Conference kicked off today following the official opening by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, Eng. Festus Ng’eno.
The inaugural Africa Waste is Wealth Series (AWWS) is organized by Taka Ni Mali, the East African Business Council, and the Alliance for Science.
This three-day conference is themed “Promoting Effective Waste Management Practices for Environmental Conservation and Climate Change Mitigation” and is being held on the margins of the UN-Habitat General Assembly meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.
Africa currently generates about 80 percent of solid waste, which is worth an estimated eight billion dollars annually if recycled, but only around 11 percent is recycled, mainly by the informal sector. With Africa’s population projected to increase to 2.4 billion by 2050 and eventually reach 4.2 billion by 2100, there is a pressing need to address waste management challenges.
In his opening speech, Eng. Festus Ng’eno, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry, said: “Kenya is a leader in promoting waste recycling in the region, though waste recycling industries are faced with the challenge of operating in formalized, sustainable waste management systems. As such, the volume of waste collected has not been optimized based on market requirements.”
He said the Government of the Republic of Kenya is committed to creating green jobs, entrepreneurship, environmental protection, and a circular economy. He revealed that the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations are in the final stages.
Dr. Sheila Ochugboju, Executive Director of Alliance for Science said, “East Africa is taking the lead in waste management and sustainability issues.”
She further expounded that countries like Rwanda and Kenya were the first to institute a plastic ban, and many countries in the Global North are struggling to catch up. Due to population growth, rapid urbanization, and an emerging middle class, there is an urgent need for African countries to accelerate action on waste management as an integral part of their response to climate change and to address current waste management challenges and prepare for the expected growth in waste generation in the coming century.
In her remarks, Mary Ngechu, the patron of Taka Taka ni Mali, said: “This conference aims to identify policy and regulatory priorities for sustainable waste management, showcase innovative approaches in commercializing sustainable waste management, demonstrate the use of technology in sustainable waste management, and adopt a plan of action for green financing investments in sustainable waste management.”
On his part, East Africa Business Council (EABC) CEO John Bosco Kalisa said, “climate change and the circular economy are top priorities for the Council.”
The EABC has established a board subcommittee on climate change in partnership with GIZ-GFA and organized a community engagement and dialogue on zero waste in East Africa.
“East Africans should embrace the concept of zero waste and transition our business models from linear to a circular economy,” said Mr. Kalisa.
The Eastern Africa Conference taking place from 6th -8th June 2023 will provide stakeholders with a platform to evaluate waste management policies across different sectors of the economy and help them recognize that urbanization is a key driver of waste management challenges in Africa.
The conference aims at uniting government institutions, private sector actors, development partners, and finance organizations to develop the necessary regional commitments to scale best-practice sustainable waste management models.