After the Heat Comes the Labour Dispute
Comment by Vivianne Rau
Within Africa, Kenya can be seen as one of the frontrunners in furthering a transition to circular economy (CE). At the same time, the country still has important steps to make to mainstream it further in its broader economic policy framework. In Kenya, CE-related developments are mostly driven by the national government, which has been very active during the last five years in introducing policies to address waste-related problems and lately it is starting to develop a CE policy approach that goes beyond waste.
Kenya’s economy is still strongly dependent on its agriculture sector, which accounts for 34 percent of the country’s GDP. Tourism is also an important contributor to the country’s economy. Even though the share of manufacturing in Kenya’s economy is still rather limited, the government is actively supporting its development as one of its four key economic priorities. Kenya ranks as the 6th African country in the latest edition of the World Competitiveness index, ranking 95th of the 141 countries assessed. From a circular economy perspective, the aforementioned sectors also hold substantial potential for further implementation of CE-related principles. Next to these sectors, there is significant potential for CE measures in the construction sector, which stands for the challenging task of addressing the current housing deficit of two million houses. Lastly, as in all countries, the waste sector will play a key enabling role for a further shift to a CE. Although this sector is limited in terms of its economic size, the CE transition can strengthen the links with the manufacturing sectors and strengthen the position of informal waste workers, both from an economic as well as from a social perspective. Kenya’s agriculture sector, which is still mostly dominated by small-scale farmers and subsistence farming, holds substantial potential for circular economy measures. First of all, organic waste is the largest waste stream in the country and increased use of this waste stream for the production of animal feed and fodder, food supplements or organic fertilizers can contribute to the recovery of some of the value contained in this waste stream. Local production of organic fertilizers can bring multiple benefits, including a reliable supply of affordable soil improvement, products for farmers, reduced reliance on imported fertilizer products and improvements in soil carbon content. Next to this, a significant amount of food is lost along the food production value chain. Most of these losses occur due to poor packaging materials, storage facilities and the lack of adequate logistics. We estimate that within Kenya’s agri-food sector, post-harvest food losses could amount to a total value of 644 million euros lost on an annual basis. Investments in improving the aforementioned parts of the value chain could help the agri-food sector to reduce the food losses, thereby substantially increasing productivity levels. EU and bilateral cooperation projects in Kenya, but also the EIB and EU Member States DFIs could play a role in investing in food loss reduction measures.