Kenya's Green Manufacturing for a Sustainable Future

3 September 2023
opinion

Kenya will co-host the inaugural Africa Climate Summit (ACS) with the African Union Commission (AUC), in Nairobi, from the 4th to 6th September. The Summit will create a platform for African leaders from all sectors, including the public, academia, private and civil society, among others, to discuss Africa's development and climate change. While Africa may not be a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), Africans have borne an inordinate burden from the negative externalities of climate change.

The theme of the Summit, "Green Growth and Climate Finance for Africa and the World,' dovetails well with the agenda of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), which is anchored under the Centre for Energy Efficiency and Conservation (CEEC) and Centre for Green Growth and Climate Change (CGGCC). Indeed, the Association is leading the conversation on the transition to green manufacturing. While there are many definitions of green manufacturing, we have defined the concept simply as the continuous improvement of efficiency and productivity in the manufacturing sector whilst minimizing the impact on the environment.

Over the last 18 years, KAM, in collaboration with the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, has made tremendous efforts to promote energy efficiency in manufacturing. We provide technical services for driving green growth and climate change initiatives to suit the needs of commercial, institutional, and industrial consumers. The main aim is to enhance cost efficiency, competitiveness and profitability of industry while promoting a clean and healthy environment.

Since the establishment of CEEC by KAM and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum, the Centre has conducted over 1,800 energy efficiency audits that have resulted in saving over 2,000 GWH of energy or electricity. This is equivalent to the amount of energy that can be produced by a 272-megawatt power plant running continuously for a year. It is a significant amount of energy that can power many homes and businesses for a lengthy period. While this is important, it is not sufficient. As the world looks for pathways to net zero, KAM has pivoted its initiatives to include green growth, circular economy, and climate change. Accordingly, through CGGCC, we have extended KAM's mandate to water conservation, renewables, captive power, waste management through Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) and circular economy. KAM has played a leading role in establishing and incubating Producer Responsible Organisations (PRO) such as Kenya Extended Producer Responsibility Organization (KEPRO) and Packaging Producer Responsibility Organisation Limited (PAKPRO). Furthermore, KAM in collaboration with the Agrochemical Association of Kenya (aak-GROW) is championing the establishment of the Kenya Hazardous Waste Producer Responsibility Organization (KEHAPRO). Further, in partnership with the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA), we are setting up the Electronic Waste Producer Responsibility Organisation of Kenya (EPROK).

Through KAM's strategic pillar on achieving Global Competitiveness, the transition towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR/Industry 4.0) will have a significant impact on achieving net zero emissions. The deployment of Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Advanced Data Analytics, Robotics, Augmented Reality and Additive Manufacturing (3-D printing) will not only increase productivity but also minimize the impact on the environment. KAM is collaborating with other global organizations to drive this agenda. Like M-Pesa technology, Kenya can leapfrog from Industry 2.0 to Industry 4.0.

Whereas industries are continuously adopting green manufacturing practices, some firms still face challenges in promoting circularity and sustainability in their operations. Hindrances such as inadequate green financing, poor collaboration between circular economy and sustainability teams and financial institutions, lack of metrics to account for levels of sustainability and lack of comprehensive integrative strategies to harmonize greening processes have slowed down the adoption of green manufacturing practices. KAM has ramped up efforts to address some of these challenges. Through the introduction and promotion of technology and financial linkages as a service, we hope to solve most of the existing issues.

Green manufacturing requires accurate and verifiable data. This is one of the challenges that may slow down the transition. At KAM we are sensitizing our members on the importance of establishing baselines and keeping accurate records of the targets and the achievements. We are supporting the government in the creation of energy benchmarks and there are plans to have benchmarks for other sectors. Digitalization of manufacturing processes will no longer be a nice thing to do but a requirement for green manufacturing. A digital economy is the prerequisite for a green economy.

We laud the government for the various initiatives to mitigate climate change, through the development of policies, regulations, and legislation. For instance, the Energy Management Regulations encourage energy efficiency, and the Extended Producer Responsibility Regulations, promote sustainable waste management. Initiatives such as the Ministry of Environment's Tree Planting Campaign are also noble and timely in the face of declining forest cover and shall take us a step forward, in environmental conservation. However, there is a collective call for more action. We urge the government to bolster local industries' capacity for green manufacturing, potentially through incentives that promote responsible production and consumption.

As H.E. President William Ruto noted, "It is our collective challenge, and it affects all of us. We need to come together to find common, global solutions." Let us all join hands in mitigating the effects of climate change.

The writer is the Chief Executive of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM).

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