The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Lead Consultant, Dr Boluwaji Onabolu said Nigeria has the potential to turn around its economic growth with enormous investments and opportunities in the environment, sanitation, water, and agriculture sectors. This institute also set up modalities for Nigeria to use the solid waste from agriculture, water, sanitation and energy sources for economic development.
Dr Onabolu attended the stakeholders’ engagement workshop titled, “Assessment of the Investment Climate for Bio-Circular Economy in Nigeria” in Abuja on 30 May 2023. According to her, Bio-Circular Economy uses renewable biological resources from land and sea, such as crops, forests, fish, animals and micro-organisms, to produce food, health, materials, products, textiles and energy.
Dr Boluwaji explained that the rising global demand for water, food, and energy, in a growing deficit and competing uses, reinforced the need for more investments in circular economy approaches. She said investing in Resource Recovery and Reuse (RRR) businesses in Nigeria was a potential pathway to sustainable economic development. She emphasised the institute’s belief that stakeholders’ participation would make a tremendous impact.
“We have learnt about studies that revealed that 183 million Nigerians do not have access to clean energy, so, therefore, IWMI has facilitated this workshop.”
“We will have answers to some questions. Why is it that these businesses like changing solid wastes into energy forms like biogas, and why is it they cannot sustain their growth?”
Also at the workshop, the Association of Deans of Agriculture in Nigeria, Prof. Olumuyiwa Jayeoba, said many opportunities abound in the agriculture value chain. Prof Jayeoba said if Nigeria managed climate change and its impact well, it would have an advantage in the agricultural sector. Climate-smart agriculture would sustainably increase productivity and income, and attainment of the National Food Security and Development Goals. He said an effective approach to climate-smart agriculture would also strengthen the country’s resilience to climate change and variability.
Speaking also, Dr Chimere Ohajinwa noted that the impact of climate change on the environment was clear in extreme weather and drought conditions, affecting the attainment of the sustainable development goals.
Dr Ohajinwa said Nigeria faced significant waste management challenges, with increasing volumes of solid waste generated in urban areas.
She said the RRR approaches emphasized proper waste segregation, collection, and recycling.
“Establishing efficient recycling facilities and promoting community-based recycling initiatives can help recover valuable materials such as plastics, paper, glass, and metals.”
“This creates employment opportunities for waste collection, sorting, and recycling industries, contributing to economic growth,” she said.
Speaking on circular bio-economy, the environmental expert said it emphasised the use of renewable natural capital and focused on minimising waste to meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.
Ms Nneka Akunwa, a sanitation and hygiene expert, said Nigeria has a vast market for sanitation products and services. According to her, half of Nigeria’s population, about 111 million people, do not have a decent toilet of their own, lacking basic or safely managed sanitation.
“One in every four Nigerians is practising Open defecation and a reasonable amount of untreated human waste ends up in the environment, threatening people’s health and degrading ecosystems.”
“Imagine the business opportunities that are available in the sector if toilet business owners come on board.”