Kenya e-waste position paper

Supporting the off-grid solar industry in a changing legislative landscape

Economic growth in emerging markets has resulted in an exponential rise in the generation of electrical and electronic waste (e-waste), with an annual growth rate of three to four per cent. Many countries where CDC invests lack the legislation, standards and infrastructure needed to manage e-waste effectively. Kenya is one such country, but the legislative landscape is changing, with draft legislation on e-waste under approval.

The off-grid solar (OGS) sector generates only a small proportion of the total e-waste generated in Kenya, but has the availability to reach remote areas, where systems for the management of waste generally—and e-waste particularly—are usually lacking. While the OGS industry has been proactive in ensuring responsible management of their end-of-life products, this has commercial implications that could lead to an increase in product prices, thereby reducing their affordability.

Our investment of $11.6 million of equity in M-Kopa in 2016 provided an opportunity to investigate how e-waste could be managed by the industry as a whole. M-Kopa is the world’s largest pay-as-you-go solar energy company and its off-grid solar home systems operate in over 700,000 low-income households in Kenya and Uganda.

This investment encouraged us to support the Global Off Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) and the Kenya Renewable Energy Association to bring the views of Kenya’s OGS companies to a crucial countrywide debate. A position paper was developed that aims to inform the effective implementation of the upcoming e-waste legislation in Kenya. The development of the position paper was also accompanied by several training sessions for OGS companies, with support by the ESG I team, in June and July 2019.

With CDC’s assistance, the OGS industry in Kenya is working proactively on a growing environmental concern, with lessons that could be adopted in other countries.