Kigali declaration calls for 'zero waste programmes'

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Musoni addresses the conference yesterday. / Nadege Imbabazi

Promoting waste management entrepreneurship in Africa is long overdue as waste is a resource that can be used to generate new goods and services such as transforming them into energy and recycling.

This is one of the nine resolutions adopted in the Kigali Declaration on Effective Waste Management in Africa.

The resolutions call for developing Zero Waste Programmes and Waste-to-Energy technologies which, engineers contend, will improve African economies.

Zero waste is a waste management strategy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused, and discourages the dumping of waste into landfills or incineration.

The resolutions also declared that African governments should promote innovative partnerships like public-private partnerships (PPPs) and institutions-industry partnerships (IIPs) to enhance waste management, pointing to the need to create waste management centres that can be interfaces between industry, academia, government and the community.

The Kigali Declaration and other resolutions were adopted Thursday during the 2nd Africa Engineering Conference (AEC) 2017, held in conjunction with the fourth UNESCO Africa Engineering Week (AEW) from September 25-29.

“We urge Africa’s leaders to accept this opportunity to engage the World and Africa’s engineering community as a full partner in addressing the complex challenges as we evolve toward a sustainable planet. The World and African Engineering Community is ready, willing and able to contribute its expertise, creativity and dedication to achieve the elements of this Declaration,” reads part of the declaration.

The Kigali Declaration was signed by Eng. Papias Kazawadi Dedeki, president for the Rwanda Institute of Engineers (IER); Eng. Julius Riungu, president for the Federation of African Engineering Organizations (FAEO); Dr Alice Ochanda, the programme officer for gender and science at UNESCO regional office for Eastern Africa; and Eng. Martin Manuhwa, the vice-president for World Federation of Engineering Organisations (WFEO).

Delegates noted that there were gaps and lapses in research and development, design and development as well as commercialisation of the research findings and considered the need to effectively translate the conference outputs, outcomes and results into marketable innovations, policy instruments and advice to African governments, industry, academia and society.

In addition, the Declaration called for partnership and collaboration between universities and research institutions with private companies, as this is important for realising concepts.

“The declaration is mainly to address our governments, civil society and the general public at a high level, in a language that is not technical, that we have committed to effective waste management in Africa,” Manuhwa said.

He told Saturday Times that lack of proper waste management causes diseases and contaminates water and soil, food and air bodies.

“Waste is only waste when you think it is waste. Waste is a resource; it is an input into many processes. It’s a raw material. So, waste is money,” he said.

Under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Goal 3, the world targets to reduce substantially, the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination by 2030.

In 2012, three billion urban dwellers were generating about 1.2 kilogrammes of waste per person per day (1.3 billion tonnes per year), while projections show that by 2025, urban dwellers will likely increase to 4.3 billion generating about 1.42 kilogrammes per capita per day of municipal solid waste, according to World Bank’s 2012 report.

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