Barriers for private sector companies operating in waste management and recycling in Sub-Saharan Africa : a qualitative exploration
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- Master Thesis 
Global waste management is critical for sustainable development, yet it is often overlooked in development theory and global education. The greatest increase in waste generation is expected to take place in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the region is already facing a growing waste management crisis. Through qualitative interviews with companies and experts operating with diverse experience in the industry, this thesis contributes to the limited research on the barriers facing private companies operating in waste management and recycling in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The main finding of the thesis is that there are fundamental industry barriers which the companies have limited ability to impact, yet an urgent need to navigate through. The industry is fragmented; there are numerous small-scale actors operating alone and few industrial synergies. The established collection systems are under-developed. This leads to a highly unpredictable raw material throughput, which in turn makes it challenging to operate efficiently and to offer stable supplies to the market. Limited information and lack of reliable data further aggravate inefficiencies in a value chain struggling to generate profits. Several risk factors are refraining commercial investors from investing in the industry. Return expectations are low, and high discount rates are applied on new investments. There is a lack of public awareness on the consequences of inadequate waste management, and on the economic benefits of creating better solutions. It is therefore an urgent need for education along several dimensions. There is also a need to consolidate existing players, with increased transparency which may facilitate cooperative efforts, better investment opportunities and a large-scale impact. Despite political turmoil and competing priorities, national governments need to play an active role in setting a political framework and regulatory constraints.