Norway’s investment agency Norfund has widened the list of areas it will be funding in East Africa to include waste management, access to clean water, transmission lines and power storage.
The Norwegian fund previously invested in the region’s financial sector, green energy, agribusiness and manufacturing.
It’s a major investor in Kenya’s Equity Bank along with the 310-megawatt Lake Turkana wind farm – the largest in Africa.
The development fund on Friday launched a new strategy for East Africa covering three years to 2022, with a special focus on its new green infrastructure pillar in light of climate change and rapid urbanisation.
“We want to address urbanisation challenges. The waste industry needs to professionalise and scale. We are one of the first development finance institutions to focus on waste management. We’ve started to see exciting new business models in the sector, built on circular economy principles. Effective collection, recycling and waste-to-energy is great for both societies and the environment. With the right investment in the right places it will also be an exciting business category and employment generator for decades to come,” Norfund CEO Tellef Thorleifsson said at the launch in Nairobi.
With the funding strategy rethink, the agency is keen to upscale its investments in manufacturing and agribusiness, besides pumping cash into green infrastructure hardware.
The World Bank estimates that about 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste is produced annually worldwide. Overall, waste generation is expected to increase to 3.40 billion metric tons by 2050. An estimated 13 percent of today’s waste is recycled and 5.5 percent is composted.
The World Bank further indicates that between one-third and 40 percent of waste generated worldwide is not managed properly and instead dumped or openly burned.
This poses serious risks to the ecosystem and human health. It’s precisely why Norfund is stepping in to fund waste management technologies and possibly avert an urban crisis.
Other companies and projects in which Norfund has invested in Africa include independent power producer Globeleq, Bujagali hydropower in Uganda and Nairobi-based solar firm M-KOPA.
“We are incredibly proud of our committed portfolio of $776 million (Sh77.6 billion) in over 520 companies in East Africa. The capital deployed has transformed millions of lives through employment, access to finance and clean energy,” said William Nyaoke, Norfund East Africa regional director.
“The launch of our new strategy will provide a framework for greater partnerships and impact across East Africa.”
Nyaoke said that the fund committed over $90 million (Sh9 billion) in East Africa in 2019 alone and is expected to further bump up its commitments going forward.
“The new green infrastructure pillar which includes investments in waste management will complement Norfund’s existing investment focus areas. The fund targets to execute 6-10 new investments focusing on business models in solid and liquid waste management, access to clean water, electricity transmission lines and power storage.”