In a number of African cities, seeing piles of household waste almost everywhere -along the roads, on street corners, on the sidewalks- has become something trivial. To think that the least empty space will unerringly attract waste! In a context of rapid urbanization, this waste generally ends up being burnt in the open air or stored in garbage damps in the open-air. In Cameroon, the start-up Kemit Ecology has developed an innovative process to convert household waste into ecological charcoal. An effective way to solve the problem of access to clean energy thanks to a real conversion of waste.
In activity since 2014, Kemit Ecology has decided to takle a major problem. In Africa, 80% of the population use wood or charcoal for cooking. The pollution generated by the use of these power sources causes nearly 600,000 deaths each year. In addition, the production of firewood and charcoal contributes significantly to deforestation as well as to the destruction of mangroves, whose fragile ecosystems particularly serve to protect the coasts from erosion, protect the animals and purify the air.
The start-up has hence developed an innovative technology to convert waste into ecological coal. Every day, a team of 5 people collect the waste, mainly peels of plantains, sugar canes and corn, in the markets of Douala. Then, they convert them into “green” coal. Therefore this coal, hardly emitting any smoke, is not harmful to health. The innovative technology developed by Kemit Ecology is protected by a patent, and consists in a recycling system for the smoke stemming from the conversion process: these smoke is reinjected in the production line to dry out the waste. In this way, the start-up company manages to produce 2 tons of coal a month and count on increasing their production until reaching 100 tons in the coming months.
Cost-wise, Kemit’s coal is two times cheaper than traditional coal. It is also more powerful: 1 kg of ecological coal allows to prepare 5 meals, whereas traditional coal only allows to prepare 2.
The entrepreneur behind this project, Muller Nandou Teukeu, is already considered as a reference in the field. He is regularly invited to Europe, Asia and the Middle East to give lectures and training. He does not hide his ambitions for Kemit, which mainly boil down to the positive impact his company may have in both Cameroon and the rest of Africa. He expects to be able to raise both the population and the authorities awareness of the importance of being more responsible when it comes to waste management. He admits being open to investments in order to support Kemit in its growth phase.
Kemit Ecology is a good example of an initiative 100% made in Africa, carried out by young people, with visible and measurable social and environmental effects. The project manages to respond to the main challenges of sustainable development: fighting against deforestation, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing a low-cost power source, converting waste and, finally, cleaning up the urban living environment.