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Researchers assess potential for industrial symbiosis in SMEs

L-R Ezra Byakutangaza of Mak-RIF, Dr Saadat Kimuli Nakyejwe, the director of Industrial Parks at UIA Hamza Galiwango, and Dr Kasimu Sendawula

L-R Ezra Byakutangaza of Mak-RIF, Dr Saadat Kimuli Nakyejwe, the director of Industrial Parks at UIA Hamza Galiwango, and Dr Kasimu Sendawula

A team of four researchers from Mubs, Kyambogo University and Makerere University have completed a study on the extent, applicability and potential for industrial symbiosis (IS) among Uganda’s small and medium enterprises.

Findings of the study titled, ‘Exploring the potential of industrial symbiosis as an innovative strategy to foster sustainable entrepreneurship in micro and small enterprises in Uganda’ and recommendations were presented at Makerere University Business School (Mubs) Annex Bugolobi on November 9, 2023.

Dr Saadat Kimuli Nakyejwe (from Mubs), the principal investigator, worked with Dr Kasimu Sendawula, Shamirah Najjinda and Eng Dr Ismail Kizza.

Industrial symbiosis is mutual collaboration between different, often geographically proximate, economic entities to exchange resources such as materials, energy, water and by-products that can be used as substitutes for products. IS leads to valorisation of waste, improvement of resource efficiency and reduction of environmental impact. It helps firms share space, utilities, tools and machines, knowledge, and utilizing each other’s waste materials.

After interacting with 380 MSE owners and 22 key informants from the membership of Uganda Small-Scale Industries Association (USSIA), the study found that many people (73%) were not aware of the concept of IS, even when a number of them were already practicing it.

Ninety-four per cent expressed readiness to understand the concept and apply it in their operations. The potential for IS was found to be high, including economic potential such as improving technical processes and lowering the cost of doing business; environmental potential by helping to keep the environment clean and cyclical; and social potential such as creating friendships and supporting community members.

The study also highlighted barriers to IS such as lack of sensitization on waste management; limited capital for investment in waste management; and limited market and minimal returns from symbiotic products, among others.

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