Clean and sustainable technologies are the most promising instruments to improve the living conditions of millions of people – not just in the Global South.
Combined with suitable business models and supporting regulatory frameworks, successful implementation and scaling of businesses will work.
E-Wave is working exactly towards that end and partners with local and international experts to analyse markets, conduct studies and prepare the ground for new local business ventures.
E-Wave has successfully conducted a comprehensive market and feasibility study on the production of PE boats in East Africa.
The objective of the study was to prove the technological and economic feasibility of establishing a company in East Africa to produce large-volume Polyethylene (PE) products using the rotational moulding process.
In the first step, PE boats for the fishing business on Lake Victoria are to be manufactured, followed by products for wastewater treatment and water storage.
The client and project partners were a European mid-sized company, the Kenyan industrial company Thames Ltd., and E-Wave GmbH, Germany. The study was financed by Deutsche Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG) as well as through own funds. Supporting consultancy came through local organisations and international consultants including the GNF (Global Nature Fund), which covered the socio-ecological area.
On Lake Victoria alone, more than 50,000 wooden boats are used for traditional fishing, supplying protein to about 40 million people around the lake. The fishing economy is – in addition – the major source of income for millions of people in East Africa.
These traditional wooden boats are predominantly built from illegally logged precious woods, since Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania do not have significant timber resources. Most of the timber used in boat building today comes from the D.R. Congo.
Uncontrolled and illegal logging, especially of rare rainforest timber, deprives many mammals, including primates, of essential parts of their livelihood, especially in the Congo Basin. In addition, according to a UNEP and an Interpol study, illegal logging, especially in the D.R. Congo, contributes to the financing of arms purchases for hostile militias and is in this way fuelling those conflicts.
And above those tragic consequences of the current wooden boat disaster, thousands of fishermen die every year as the existing wooden boats are unsafe and sink easily and fast in heavy storms on the lakes.
The use of PE fishing boats is therefore timely and is welcomed also from the local political and social actors. The necessary technology is considered mature. For more than 25 years, workboats made of polyethylene have been built in industrialized nations with a service life of more than 10 years. They are UV resistant, almost unsinkable and easily recyclable. In addition, those boats are safer for their users and provide the fishermen with additional advantages in operational use. There is also a high added value for fishermen in terms of financial and business sustainability aspects.
A stated goal is to use locally recycled raw material in a complete circular economy approach. To ensure full sustainability, the PE-boats would also be ready for use in future e-mobility environments. Local production would ensure the creation of qualified jobs with the associated transfer of know-how in a state-of-the-art local industrial set-up.
The study proofed the feasibility of the overall approach and the specifics in the selected material and in the manufacturing processes. In East-Africa, we were working already in the past with highly innovative start-ups in the field of e-mobility and circular economy. The logical next step for us is now to include those local heroes in a partnership with international industrial champions and implement the production and distribution of PE-boats across East Africa.
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If a new initiative is to take root and grow, it must offer real improvements for all stakeholders in key aspects:
- It must be simple, profitable and affordable for a large target group
- It must be economically viable for the investors who pre-fund the initiative and
- it must be ecologically sustainable for our planet.
Difficult? Yes! But possible with expertise and dedication!
the CO2 footprint of most developing nations is a fraction of that of our own.
So why is the leverage on an electric fisherboat in Africa so much greater than an e-vehicle at home? Let’s discuss the soft aspects of environmental protection.
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