Sustainable Inclusive Business, the knowledge centre under the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) Foundation, in partnership with TheRockGroup, a sustainable consultancy firm, has published an industry report on Kenya’s efforts to transition to a more sustainable and circular economy.
It was launched at the Africa Business Week by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency on Thursday May 27, 2021
Dubbed, ‘Kenya is in Transition to a Circular Economy: A quick scan of the trends and opportunities for businesses in the circular economy and resource efficiency space’, the report provides an overview of status of circular economy trends in Kenya, existing gaps, and available opportunities. It further showcases Kenya’s business climate and policy framework and highlights relevant organizations contributing to the country’s shift to a circular economy as an alternative economic framework.
Launching the report, Ms. Karin Boomsma, the Director of Sustainable Inclusive Business, noted that “the growing need for businesses and economies to operate on more sustainable approaches is reflected in the efforts by numerous actors including governments, the private sector, and civil society.” The government, through the Ministries of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) and Trade and Industrialization as well as various multilateral agencies, she observed, “have made it possible by developing corresponding legal and policy frameworks that ensure a smooth transition from a linear economy.”
“Through meaningful collaborations between government agencies and the private sector, Kenya is on a path to integrate circularity within key sectors. These efforts will result in the development of new businesses active in redesigning, recycling and waste management, as well as increased sustainable economic development and resilience,” Ms. Boomsma emphasized.
Kenya’s economic growth averaged 5.7% between 2015 and 2019, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the World Bank (2021), the performance of the economy has been boosted by a stable macro-economic environment, positive investor confidence, and a resilient services sector.
In 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta outlined the “Big Four” agenda covering food security, affordable housing, universal healthcare, and manufacturing. While a lot of progress has been made, Kenya, like many other economies, has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand and supply fluctuations have been experienced and have caused a slowing of economic activity by 0.3% of the real gross domestic product in 2020 according to the World Bank. Manufacturing, as well as many service subsectors such as tourism and education, have been severely impacted.
As a result, now more than ever, we must address the global challenges posed by the current linear economy, according to the report. This will reduce pressure on natural resources and will create sustainable growth and green jobs. It is also a prerequisite to achieving climate neutrality and halting biodiversity loss. The report shows that currently, most circular solutions are inspired by the waste management situation. However, since Kenya is on a rapid growth curve, there still lies a great opportunity to thrive by creating effective systems for a resilient social-environmental system. The focus needs to shift from solving ‘waste’ problems to redesigning, innovating, and investing.
Although the transition to a circular economy is no longer a strange concept in Kenya, the country still has a lot to do in terms of policy priorities as well as a review of budgets to support the gradual transition to a circular economy.
In 2019, over 92 billion tonnes of materials were extracted and processed globally, contributing to about half of global CO2 emissions according to WeForum. The use of global resources has tripled since 1970 and could double by 2050 if we continue with ‘business as usual’. This extraction rate is far beyond the limits of our planet. The population is also rapidly increasing and these additional numbers need to be provided for within the planetary boundaries. There is no question about it. The world needs a circular economy.