Joshua Opoku Agyemang, President of IoT Network Hub said he and his team have solutions that can save the government of Ghana over $100M every year and create over 100,000 sustainable jobs.
He said he has built a community of problem solvers, thinkers, makers, builders and entrepreneurs with grit who are capable of solving the pressing problems that the nation is facing, such as unemployment, sanitation, agriculture, traffic congestion, road accidents and many more.
He believes harnessing the power of technology is the best way to solve the problems facing our country and creating sustainable jobs. With the birth of emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Robotics, Blockchain etc., problem-solving has become easier and faster than we can even imagine.
One of his solutions recently won the Ghana Open Data Hackathon, an initiative of Ghana Open Data Initiative which started in 2012 to make government data open and accessible to all. The Hackathon was organized by the Ministry of Communication through its implementing agency, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Mobile Web Ghana and SBC4D from 2nd-5th April 2019 at the Ghana – India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT.
He said throughout the country, private waste management companies are contracted to collect solid waste for local authorities (Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies) to pay for the service, while in a few instances, residents are required to pay for waste collection. Reportedly, the Accra Metropolitan Assembly spends about US$ 3.45 million each year on collection and transport of waste for disposal alone.
According to the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, the waste collected is buried in landfills. This has gone on for years and they have practically run out of landfills. On the average, each person generates about 2.5 litres of waste daily, which implies that our solid waste could fill up more than 70,000 14-cubic-meter waste trucks each day.
We believe waste is a source of revenue and until we rethink waste as a country, we will perpetually struggle with waste management. There are materials in our waste streams that could be used for several purposes. For instance, countries like Sweden import waste from Britain and Norway, which clearly indicates that waste is a valuable resource. What the waste management systems in Ghana lacks is the fact that waste is not considered as a resource.
Our solution is to help address the waste challenges. Per our research conducted, Ghana produces 25,000 metric tons of waste per day, of which 65% is organic, 10% plastic, 10.6% inert, 3% metal, among others.
We also found out that the waste has a negative impact on tourism and causes disasters such as flooding, health issues, land degradation, water pollution and many more.
Currently, some individuals and companies are buying waste, such as metal scraps, plastics, papers etc.
We want to make waste easily accessible to people who would in turn self-recycle them. We currently have a lot of innovative products that can potentially create over 100,000 jobs for the youth and women. This will help to reuse the resources that we no longer need. Our innovative solution runs on the circular economy model where everything that is produced gets reused and never disposed. This model would be self-sustainable as long as there is human existence.
For instance, coconut waste can be used for producing energy (bio char), seats and many more. Metal scraps can also be melted and molded into cooking pots, knives, coal pots etc. Plastic bottles can also be recycled into bags, baskets, road pavements etc.
The solutions we are building will seek to turn any form of waste into something useful that has much value. It will help the youth to learn how to turn waste into useful products and build successful businesses around this model.
Joshua is building a solution where waste consumers or people who need waste can source any type and quantity of waste needed. Whenever someone posts a particular waste material, a push notification will be sent to the waste consumers along with the location. The system will be rewarding waste producers for waste segregations based on the rating from the waste consumers.
For example, if you subscribe to restaurant waste or leftovers, you would receive a notification on your smart phone along with the location whenever the restaurant posts a waste material.
Joshua believes there’ll be waste as long as there’s human existence. There will always be resources that we don’t need and would like to dispose. These same resources may be needed by other people for reuse.
Joshua believes waste is energy and it should be conserved and reused. To make Accra the cleanest city in West Africa will required us as a nation to rethink our problem-solving approach. Money alone doesn’t solve problems but sometimes masks the problems and makes them worse. We need to invest more into thinking out and brainstorming our problems and that will enable us solve most of our problems.