Energy poverty and air pollution are interlinked in sub-Sahara Africa where more than 80 per cent of the population rely on toxic fuels such as biomass, coal and kerosene for cooking. The World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest data estimates around 3.8 million people die each year from illnesses linked to household air pollution – a problem that plagues the Kenyan team behind Mega Gas Alternative Energy.
“Most of us have suffered from indoor pollution and lack of access to clean and affordable energy,” said Peter Njeri, CEO and Head of Business Development at Mega Gas.
Njeri was one of 15 entrepreneurs selected from an application pool of nearly 700 start-ups who participated in the Africa ClimAccelerator – first pan-African accelerator focused on scaling the most promising climate-focused innovations.
The cleantech start-up has been providing clean and affordable cooking energy certified by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to low-income families since its establishment in 2015. Mega Gas converts unsorted polythene and plastic waste into clean, gaseous fuel through a thermal cracking process of distillation and compression that releases zero emissions, residue nor pollution.
“We turn plastic waste into energy using a first-of-its-kind technology in Kenya. This enables us to offer gas that is cheaper and has higher calorific value compared to the alternatives, meaning it burns for longer,” said Njeri.
By replacing charcoal and wood with clean cooking fuel, customers experience healthier indoor environments and plastic waste is evaded from landfills.
The start-up primarily serves low-income families of the Eastlands in Nairobi and in Vihiga, Buvai village, Majengo Town in Khamisi Constituency, selling a 6-kilogram gas cylinder for $ 6.
Mega Gas is currently expanding its operations with the commercialisation of a 1.7-tonne capacity plant in Ruiru, located in the Nairobi Metropolitan region, and a community kitchen in Soweto, Kayole, Nairobi, where residents can pay $ 0.25 per one hour to cook with the product.
Thus far, the pilot project has provided 1,300 families with clean cooking fuel with plans to scale the production capacity from 10 tonnes to 20 tonnes over the next 12 months. This expansion will provide over 2,300 families with access to clean, affordable cooking gas and eliminate approximately 6,000 tonnes of plastic waste by the end of the year.
“We want to grow our operations and increase our capacity within the next five years to enable us to comfortably serve about 80,000 people per month. We also hope to expand our operations to the rest of East Africa by growing our production capacity, hiring more qualified personnel, and digitising our services,” said Njeri.
The Africa ClimAccelerator was designed to enhance the development and deployment of innovative technology to accelerate climate-positive business solutions for a net-zero Africa. From January to June 2022, programme was delivered by partner organisations GrowthAfrica and the Carbon Trust, supported by the Climate-KIC International Foundation and funded by the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (‘GIZ’) exclusively on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (‘BMZ’).
An original version of this article was published here on 23 April.