Supporting enterprises in capturing waste value: lessons learned from the CapVal sanitation project in Ghana

Date: September 17, 2021
Client: IWMI 
Regions: Western Africa, 
Countries:  Ghana, 

This learning report looks at the outcomes of the CapVal project implemented by IWMI in Ghana. In the last decade, IWMI has pioneered research on sustainable business models for waste valorisation. Building on this experience, IWMI Ghana, in partnership with TREND, provided technical support and financial assistance to local entrepreneurs, local governments and the national government on waste valorisation for the production of faecal sludge-based compost, fuel briquettes and catfish (through wastewater reuse). CapVal, which was implemented with support from the Dutch Embassy in Ghana from 2015-2021, particularly focused on supporting the development of local SMEs, including Jekora Venture and TriMark.

 

In line with other similar global experience, this learning report found these businesses could not be profitable without public funding support to cover capital costs but also marketing and outreach to off-takers. The compost business in particular is a struggling one, in the context of government subsidies for large scale production of fertilisers. The briquettes and catfish production showed stronger potential for interesting profit margins. However, despite challenges in relation to profitability, CapVal paved the way in identifying solutions for strengthening the circular economy of waste management. In particular, CapVal helped set-up:

  • Joint Venture agreements for waste treatment plant construction and management: the model was identified as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model that would help address both private sector and public sector risks in waste valorisation businesses
  • Certifications for faecal-based composting, catfish and briquettes production: CapVal engaged with all relevant regulatory agencies to address specific gaps in the legal framework for waste valorisation
  • Formal agreements between municipalities for waste sourcing: under the project, Yilo Krobo (the main public sector partner) and Lower Manya Krobo agreed to collaborate to enable the private enterprise processing organic waste into briquettes and compost to source inputs from local markets, each municipality tasked with specific activities

 

Challenges related to waste valorisation remain significant: for example, where environmental regulations enforcement is weak, there is no guarantee that sufficient sludge will be deposited at the designated site. Businesses that were developed as part of CapVal are still far from full market-based profitability due to market barriers, such as heavy competition from chemical fertiliser (that remain subsidised). However, as governments and businesses look for sustainable sources of energy, soil nutrient and water for fish production, IWMI and partners’ work is increasingly relevant, helping to gradually unlock opportunities of waste valorisation and the circular economy.

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