BusinessDay

How Kaltani is creating wealth from plastic waste

Kaltani is a clean tech plastic recycling and waste management company focused on solving the plastic pollution, waste management and unemployment problems in most African countries. Obi Charles Nnanna, founder/CEO of the company shares his story of how the company is creating wealth and growing economies, the impact of technology and potential in that sector. Modestus Anaesoronye brings the report.

What are the origins of your company Kaltani, and how its approach to sustainability has evolved? What key priorities are you focused on, especially where Nigeria is concerned?

Kaltani was first founded in Houston, Texas and then in Lagos, Nigeria. We are a cleantech plastic recycling and waste management company focused on solving the plastic pollution, waste management and unemployment problems most African countries are plagued with. We have a tried and tested solution that works and we are well on our way to scaling our solution across Africa.

What is the greatest challenge facing the plastic waste sector? How has the role of plastic waste management companies changed as a result?

The plastic pollution problem is growing significantly and exponentially across Nigeria and Africa at large. The sector requires significant funding to meet, address, curb and arrest the problem. Development finance institutions, impact funds, and sustainable banks must identify organizations, individuals and professionals that have identified scalable solutions to these problems and fund them accordingly should they prove their business models to be sustainable. I can’t speak for plastic waste management companies but at Kaltani we have a model that addresses the challenges throughout its A-Z value chain.

How does information technology, waste management and recycling work together, and what value has Kaltani created at the nexus of this relationship?

Kaltani utilizes technology to aid our process as it provides traceability and transparency throughout our value chain. We have a good number of trucks, various recycling collection centers in multiple states and factories. It is imperative our technology solution works in order to reduce inefficiencies, redundancies and meet and exceed our targets. This is the only way to guarantee that all our stakeholders (community, customers, vendors, employees etc) are happy.

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With a huge population like ours, how can Nigeria, like other emerging markets, have a sustainable plastic waste management strategy?

It begins with proper education, enlightenment, and truly understanding that waste is actually valuable not just for the individual, but also the individual states and provinces in a country or an entire country as a whole. It is what differentiates Kaltani from the rest of recycling and waste management companies. We are also taking this message to various state governments and countries that are keen on listening. We have devised a model where state governments can earn revenue from their own waste via carbon and plastic credits. At Kaltani we are already verified, so for the Honorable Commissioner of Environment or for the Executive State Governor in Nigeria or President of any African country or African Development Finance Institution or development bank reading, this kindly know that at KALTANI we cannot only clean up your state and hire hundreds of thousands of your indigenes, we can also earn revenue for your state and/or country.

Where do you see the most potential for growth within the plastic waste management and circular economy space? Which areas are most exciting?

The entire sector, from plastic waste to municipal solid waste not just in Nigeria but the entire Africa as a whole, presents a unique opportunity for growth that excites me terribly. It is a major growth sector that won’t plateau for decades. It is a sector that has the potential to empower millions of Africans across multiple African countries, which will definitely curb the tide of illegal migration and brain drain from our beautiful continent. It is a multi-billion-dollar market. If you include the plastic and carbon credit market into this computation then the sector will only continue to grow exponentially for decades to come. How can that not excite you? Solving plastic pollution, carbon emissions and waste management problem in Africa, solving the unemployment problem in Africa and curbing illegal migration to Europe. When I think about it, it is everything I wanted to be growing up, essentially a super hero.

You recently celebrated the 1st anniversary of Kaltani. What are some critical achievements for you and your team in Nigeria since inception?

We have made some great strides over the last year – signed a contract with a major bottling company; expanded from 2 states to 10 states; increased employment from 100 to 500; empowered 5000 waste pickers a month earning above the Nigerian minimum wage; consequently, banked an unbanked population; and verified and qualified to sell plastic credits

What new industry trends or market activity are you watching? Any future predictions for the sector that you would like to share?

We are extremely bullish on all things green and all things Africa. If it has the potential to clean up our continent and planet, and essentially reduce pollution and carbon emissions while also solving unemployment then we have eyes on it. Our research and strategy team are currently doing their homework. But for now, we are keen on expanding and scaling our collection, logistic and recycling infrastructure across key markets in Africa.

Profile of the CEO

Obi Charles Nnanna holds a Bachelor of Science Degree (BSc.) in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Oklahoma Norman, Oklahoma, USA, and a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) in Finance and Strategy from the Cameron School of Business, University of Saint Thomas Houston, Texas, USA.

Obi has worked in the past with Halliburton Energy Services as a Field Operations Engineer, with Baker Hughes Incorporated as a Senior Sales Engineer and Business Development Manager/Account Manager and with TOTAL S.A. in Pau, France as a Senior Project Engineer. Obi also worked as a Senior Advisory Consultant for Vitol, reporting directly to the CEO and CFO in Lagos and Abuja Nigeria, all Fortune 500 companies.

Obi is an astute professional with over a decade of experience in the Energy industry in Nigeria, the United States of America and France. His wealth of experience acquired over many years and across different continents while working for Fortune 500 companies has equipped him with significant insight into the Energy industry and business development. His extensive knowledge is evidenced by the multiple publications and presentations he has made in numerous countries. Significantly, in 2012 Obi was featured in a prestigious U.S Black Engineer & Innovative Technology Magazine as a “Rising Star in Energy.” He was the youngest of 25 engineers featured, an amazing feat at the young age of 27.

He was invited to be speaker/panelist on the social entrepreneurship panel at the 22nd Annual Harvard Africa MBA conference (Creating Clear Visions For Future Prosperity) on the campus of Harvard University, Massachusetts, U.S.A. (February, 2020).

Obi was also selected out of over 1,000 applicants to present at the 5TH X-Afrique Entrepreneurship Forum on the campus of L’ecole Poly- technique, Paris, France.

He was also selected as a speaker/panelist on the climate panel at the 10th Annual Oxford Africa Conference (Affirming African Agency: How Africa Defines The Next Decade) on the campus of Oxford University, Oxford, UK. (March, 2020)

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