Experts: Eco-friendly technologies will spur Africa’s economic growth

From recycling wastes to making environment friendly floors, to solar energy systems, entrepreneurial innovators in Africa are making products that seek remedies to waste and pollution as well as extremely greenhouse gases blamed for disasters such as destructive drought and floods.

As part of the inaugural Africa Green Growth Forum taking place in Kigali, a green technologies event was held on Wednesday to give players a platform to exchange experience on green growth technologies and those that foster climate resilience.

The technologies range from renewable energy, to energy efficiency for industry and residential applications, recycling technologies (plastic, e-waste, paper waste, among others), clean cooking (biomass, biogas, and energy efficient cook stoves), green building technologies, as well as  green transport solutions (such as electric powered motorbikes) that reduce harmful emissions.

These technologies, experts argue, could drive Africa’s economic development once scaled up through financing and skills development.

EarthEnable – a Bugesera District-based enterprise produces 'healthy' clay floors as alternative to cement or concrete. The floors are sealed using plant-based oil.

The floors are 75 per cent cheaper, and produce 90 per cent fewer emissions, than cement (concrete floor), according to the company.

Dirt floors have been shown to harbor parasites, bacteria, and other disease carrying agents dangerous to children and the adults living in these homes.

Healthy floors have been shown to reduce the incidence of childhood diarrhea by 49% and parasitic infections by 78%, according to Gayatri Datar, EarthEnable co-founder and CEO.

“About 2,800 homes have healthy earthen floors, covering 84,000 square meters to directly replace dirt floors,” Gayatri Datar told The New Times, adding  “Our product emits almost nothing in carbon emissions.”

Put organic waste in a compost making machine, and in 24 hours you will get manure ready for fertilising crops for higher yields.

This is a technology being used ECOH Holdings Ltd from Kenya, a company engaged in environment conservation and health, whose target is clean environment, food security, youth employment and achieving clean and green cities.  

Its activities revolve around moving from garbage to cabbage, which its Managing Director, Edwin Kamau is finding an environmental and economic solution by turning organic garbage, which is an environment concern, into crop fertilisers for food security.

Giving examples of Nairobi which produces about 3,000 metric tonnes of waste per day, and Kigali about 400 tonnes per day, all of which about 70 to 80 percent are organic, Kamau said it provides opportunity for business and agriculture through cleaning the waste to produce fertilisers and biomass clean energy and increasing food production.

“Overall, we are able to make 5 tonnes of pelletised compost per day, from about 6.5 tonnes of wastes,” he said.

“Human activities are aggravating climate change by waste and pollution … but, we have that ability to address food insecurity in Africa, and increase both produce and income for smallholder farmers by making manure from wastes,” he said.

He said the company sells a 50-kilogramme bag at $40 (about Rwf34,000) for pelletised manure, while the same quantity it about $10 (about Rwf8,500) for ground manure (before being made into pellets).

EcoPost Kenya, uses 100% recycled plastics to make environmentally friendly plastic lumber (timber) for use in applications ranging from fencing, signposts, to landscaping (flooring).

To make its products, it grinds plastic waste and mix it with fine biomass such as sawdust, rice husks, coffee husks, macadamia dust among others.

Laban Ngeno, Business Development Manager, said that since 2009 when it was established, “EcoPost recycled more than 3 million kilogrammes of plastics and created more than 2,000 jobs including direct employees and indirect ones who work in waste collection, sorting and supply services.”

“The promise of a green economy surrounds us. Africa, we have a great potential… Green technologies promise a clean environment, a solution for climate change problems, and perhaps, most important of all, the creation of green jobs,” Ngeno said.

Strawtec Building Solutions, a local firm, is providing wall systems made from compressed straw for construction or partitioning buildings.

It’s an eco-friendly building material is a considered a solution for pre-fabricated low-cost housing.  

Strawtec Chief Executive Officer, Didier Sagashya, said that the straw is compressed at 200 degrees such that all the air is taken out from the straw to get rid of oxygen which can cause the construction material to easily catch fire.

He said that they were selling the construction panel at between Rwf9,000 and Rwf10,000 per square meter.

 

 

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