Skip to content

Startups Make the Biggest Impact in Keeping West Africa Clean

Saviour Anyanwu founded OkwuEco – a hybrid word from Igbo and English meaning to start a conversation about the environment – and built an app to get households and waste collectors working together.  “Collecting and recycling waste is not something we’re familiar with in this part of the world,” he said. “We prefer to just throw away rather than recycle waste. You cannot walk past any of our streets without actually noticing some form of waste; so waste is competing with people for space here in Nigeria”. The app uses image recognition to educate households about recycling, and links them with merchants who can trade their waste for cash credits or mobile data transacted through the security of an online platform. The app’s inbuilt GPS facilitates logistics, helping merchants navigate the clogged streets of rapidly expanding cities, and directs them to various households’ sorted waste.  The solid waste can then be traded in recycling centres, helping to establish a circular economy in metals, plastics, paper and glass, and in turn give hope to Nigerians that the private sector can succeed where local governments have often failed.