Kenyan startups eyeing Sh600million funding to tackle plastic pollution
What you need to know:
- Afri-Plastics Challenge was launched in 2021 and has received 1,141 entries across sub-saharan Africa.
- Winners will be announced at the Afri-Plastics Summit & Awards in Nairobi on March 16, 2023.
Nine Kenyan startups are core participants in a competition where they could scoop a share of some Sh600 million in funding to tackle plastic pollution.
The nine are part of 40 startups that made it to finals in the Afri-Plastics Challenge, an initiative by Canada-funded Challenge Works - an initiative that offers prizes to innovative startups and organizations. The current programme is part of a Sub-Saharan-African plastics innovation challenge.
The initiative targets to tackle plastic waste and reduce pollution that ends up into the marine environment.
Director of International Development at Challenge Works, Jonathan Slater, says that while Africa remains a major contributor of marine pollution, there still lacks data on the extent of the issue.
“It is difficult to provide an exact figure for the current marine plastic waste in Africa as data on this is often incomplete or outdated. However, it is known that Africa is a major contributor to global marine plastic pollution, with an estimated 17 million tons of plastic waste generated annually in the continent, much of which ends up in the oceans,” Mr Slater says.
The Afri-Plastics Challenge was launched in 2021 and has received 1,141 entries from innovators across sub-saharan Africa so far.
In the current challenge, Kenyan and Nigerian startups dominated the cohort of finalists, with nine startups each, out of the total 40 finalists startups that made it to the final phase of the Prize. South Africa has six finalists, Ghana has four, Uganda and Rwanda two each, while Cameroon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Togo, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d'Ivoire secured one slot each.
The winners will be announced at the Afri-Plastics Summit & Awards in Nairobi on March 16, 2023.
“Poor waste management practices, inadequate infrastructure for waste collection and disposal, a lack of public awareness about the impact of plastic pollution, and the increasing use of single-use plastic products are key factors that have contributed to the plastic waste problem,” Mr added Slater.
While many Sub-Saharan African governments including Kenya, have recognized the need to tackle plastic pollution and have started to implement policies and initiatives to address it through plastic bag bans, taxes on single-use plastic products, and investment in waste management infrastructure, the organization maintains that more still needs to be done.
The organization is also using the initiative to support women empowerment and girls, by creating economic activities for them.
“Sixty per cent of entries that made it to the final 40 were women-led,” expounded Slater.
Afri-Plastics now seeks collaboration with stakeholders such as governments, businesses, and individuals to promote sustainable development.