By 2025, the total waste production of Africa could reach up to 244 million tonnes.
The forecast comes as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) released its Africa Waste Management Outlook, 2018, a joint market study with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
For many, this scenario paints a dreadful picture. Yes, Africa’s increasing waste problem calls for urgent sweeping measures, but it also presents significant economic opportunities for the entire continent, if waste is treated as a secondary resource that is harnessed effectively.
Wealth in waste: What is the estimated worth of Africa’s waste industry?
Did you know that the African economy can generate an additional annual revenue of USD 8 billion through the reuse, recycling and recovery of waste?
According to the study by UNEP and CSIR, Africa’s yearly municipal solid waste production of 125 million tonnes has an estimated resource value of USD 8 billion, but only 4 percent of this waste is being recovered, equivalent to only about USD 318.6 million per year.
If only 4 percent is being recovered, what’s happening to the rest?
“The value of the potentially recoverable resources that are not currently being collected and are essentially lost to the economy is estimated at USD 7.6 billion per year,” UNEP and CSIR said in the study.
However, the report added that if Africa will increase its waste recovery rate, it can inject the following estimated annual revenues into its economy:
- A 25 percent increase translates to another 26.2 million tonnes of reclaimed waste per year, with an estimated worth of USD 1.7 billion.
- A 50 percent increase translates to another 62.5 million tonnes of recovered waste per year, with an estimated worth of USD 4 billion.
The projected revenue (USD 8 billion) is a conservative estimate, as it only included waste produced in urban areas, and only for specific waste types, so it does not reflect the “true value of all waste streams across the [African] continent.”
This means Africa stands to generate an even higher amount if it maximises its full waste resources across the value chain.
Key waste industries that can augment Africa’s revenue streams:
Waste Recycling and Reuse
As mentioned, the rate of recycling in Africa is only 4 percent, primarily due to lack of waste collection facilities and recycling systems in Sub-Saharan African municipalities.
If the necessary infrastructure is developed, Africa could significantly benefit from the booming global trade of recyclables, which includes paper, plastics, e-waste, metal scraps and recovered aluminium.
As of 2018, the global recycling market is expected to hit USD 282.1 billion in revenues, excluding revenues from plastic recycling estimated at $37.6 billion.
“…the benefits for Africa will depend on the extent to which the opportunities associated with secondary resources are realized within Africa or exported to other countries,” according to the study.
Aside from aiding Africa’s waste management efforts, waste to energy projects can boost the continent’s power supply and provide its people with clean and reliable electricity.
Having a steady supply of power, in turn, can sustain Africa’s growing industrial and commercial sectors and contribute to its overall economic growth.
In addition, energy-from-waste projects can increase Africa’s biofuel supply and use, alleviating its spend on import of traditional transport fuels.
Building waste-to-energy facilities can also attract local and foreign investments, create long-term domestic jobs and enhance the entrepreneurial environment in Africa.
How can Visionscape Group equip & empower Africa to maximise its waste resources?
The Visionscape Group is an industry leading environmental utility conglomerate with a vision to enable emerging markets to use their waste resources to their benefit, in a smart, sustainable and environmentally friendly way.
We specialise in the design, build and operations of small- to large-scale material recovery facilities, anaerobic digestion and landfill gas plants, waste-to-energy projects, wastewater and solid wastewater plants, and waste collection and disposal infrastructure.
Our all-inclusive solutions and global presence put us in a strategic position to cater to the waste management and waste-to-energy requirements of African countries, allowing them to realise the benefits of their waste industry and achieve their economic and sustainability goals.
Aside from the obvious health, safety and environmental advantages, harnessing the potential of Africa’s waste industry can spur socio-economic benefits for its people, including billion-dollar annual revenues, increased supply of reliable power, job creation, poverty alleviation, enterprise development and entrepreneurship, and even women empowerment.
With the high-level expertise, comprehensive resources and international reach of Visionscape, we can aid African markets in developing and implementing the necessary infrastructure and technologies to fully utilise their waste resources and transform their waste economy into a robust income-generating industry.