Growing mounds of waste offer African women unexpected business opportunities in the bioenergy sector

This op-ed first appeared on the Green Growth Knowledge Platform.

New technologies and smart business models could turn waste into a veritable gold mine of opportunity for African women.

How waste can fast-track transition to cleaner bioenergy

To explain how women are able to turn waste into opportunity, we need to revisit a well-known challenge: In sub-Saharan Africa, most people rely on firewood and charcoal for cooking and heating. Using firewood and charcoal in inefficient stoves dangerously pollutes indoor air quality, while cutting down trees without replanting plans degrades the environment.

Therefore, efforts to reduce the use firewood and charcoal and complement it with other forms of energy have been long underway. Yet, it is only recently that opportunities to find entirely new sources of biomass energy are being pursued.

One idea for how to fast-track this transition is springing up from a surprising source: Waste. Waste materials, such as city and market waste, cow dung or even human excreta, can be recovered and made into cleaner, cheaper bioenergy products…