The clean tech and environmental sectors are relatively small (by global standards) in Africa but are rapidly growing, as the continent faces several environmental challenges and is seeking solutions to mitigate its consequent impact.
Nigeria generates about 32 million tonnes of solid waste annually, of which 8% are plastics, making it one of the 20 biggest plastic polluters in the world. Nigeria faces a severe water crisis with approximately 60 million Nigerians living without access to basic drinking water and 112 million without access to improved sanitation. Several initiatives have been created to improve access to water and sanitation. Nigeria has a limited legislative framework for waste management and a circular economy, however, the circular economy is gaining momentum with the increased awareness of the industry across all levels of government. Today, there are companies offering services in textile recycling, wood recycling, and public-private partnerships (PPP) with state governments to improve their respective waste collection and conversion strategies.
South Africa faces environmental challenges such as water scarcity, pollution and climate change. The country generates a total of 12.7 million tonnes of domestic waste annually with 90% of it going to landfills. The country is now adopting new technologies to reduce environmental impact and enhance resource efficiency. A big industry that supports about 7890 formal jobs and 58 470 informal jobs across the entire recycling supply chain.
Kenya generates about 6,000 tons of waste daily of which about 40% are plastics. About 28 million Kenyans lack access to safe water and 41 million lack access to improved sanitation. Other challenges include deforestation, industrial activities and poor management of water resources. Laws such as the Water Act of 2002 have been put in place to improve the current situation as it looks to transition into a middle-income economy that is environmentally sustainable by 2030.
Ghana produces 12,710 tonnes of daily waste with only 10% disposed of properly. About 10% of Ghanaians have to spend more than 30 minutes to access an improved source of drinking water and 11% still drink from streams and other unsafe water sources. Many water treatment systems are inefficient or inadequate due to a lack of funding, maintenance, monitoring and enforcement. As with other African countries, the public and private sectors including start-ups are adopting innovative approaches to solve problems.
Senegal produced more than 4 million tonnes of waste in 2019, with only about 50% collected and disposed of properly. The World Bank is one of the leading organisations that supports access to water and sanitation in Senegal. The country is currently water-stressed and water withdrawals are projected to increase by 30 to 60 per cent by 2035. Senegal faces challenges in improving its institutional framework for integrated water resources management (IWRM) principles. Its clean energy sector is also underdeveloped and unstructured. Projects such as the rural water project supported by the World Bank have been commissioned to increase the access and quality of water supply in the region.
Ivory Coast’s cleantech industry is a small and growing industry and some initiatives have been in place to address the problem of waste management in the country. Rampant deforestation, improper sewage and liquid waste disposal, lack of safe and clean drinking water and air pollution are some environmental challenges facing the country. Efforts are being made by the Ivorian government in collaboration with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme, to implement various environmental and water management programs.
Africa is currently facing a multitude of environmental challenges such as climate change, water, and air pollution, as well as increasing waste generation. However, companies are responding to these issues with innovative technologies and local solutions. Although the cleantech industry lacks legislative support in many African countries, it has attracted foreign interest and is expected to experience significant growth, becoming a major contributor to the continent's economies in the coming decades. Despite generating approximately 174 million tons of waste annually with an average generation rate of 0.9 kg per day, Africa's governments are taking action to address issues of waste disposal, desertification and soil degradation by implementing policies.