President, International Solid Waste Association

Less Developed Nations Take Five of Top 10 Spots for Waste Investments

ISWA Blog: Winds of Change Sweeping Waste Investment Landscape

David Newman, ISWA president, asks if change is happening, or about to happen, in global waste investment?

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David Newman, ISWA president, asks if change is happening, or about to happen, in global waste investment?

Rereading the AcuComm Waste Business Monitor from the end of 2015 (Issue 15) – I don’t always have the time to read these publications the day they are online- then what is startling are two pieces of data:

  • For the month referred to in this issue, November 2015, of the ten top countries for value of investments, five can be classified as less developed countries, with India leading the way. Interestingly, two African countries also appeared on the screen, Nigeria  and Zambia for value, while South Africa features for the number of projects announced.
  • The second piece of data shows that the US and the UK are still the leading developed countries both for number and value of projects announced, a sign that these two nations are still investing heavily (though less so than in 2014) in waste infrastructure.

Now, we must always take announcements of projects with a pinch of salt- many will never be realised. Getting finance for them is often impossible, last minute planning decisions often torpedo the best laid plans; investors also pull out sometimes as market conditions change.

Nevertheless, the change is happening I believe, and happening maybe faster than we thought possible. The Clean India campaign may be having some effect as government money filters down into concrete projects; African countries are gradually waking up to the environmental disaster waste is causing them, with consequences for their inward investments in tourism, property and business.  

A conversation recently with one of the world’s largest waste companies, in a European capital, confirms that they also see change coming from developing countries and are looking at these closely for investment opportunities in infrastructure.

Just how to propose a financial and technical model for these countries requires a change in a European mind-set where traditionally technology, not money, was the key factor in deciding what plant to build. 

ISWA is looking at this too. In our annual congress in Serbia, September 2016, we will issue a short report on the pathways to closing open dumps and moving to sanitary landfills in developing countries, an essential first step up the waste hierarchy.  

See you there.

David Newman in president of the International Solid Waste Association

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