WASTE MANAGEMENT IS QUITE A PROBLEM ACROSS NIGERIAN CITIES. A NIGERIAN ENTREPRENEUR LEFT HER PROGRAMMING JOB IN USA TO ASSIST LAGOS WITH HER WASTE MANAGEMENT PROBLEMS. LAST WEEK SHE WAS REWARDED AT LE MONDE'S SMART CITIES INNOVATION AWARDS IN PARIS.
Bilikiss Adebiyi’s WeCyclers, a startup recycling outlet in Lagos got rewarded at this year’s “Smart Cities Innovation Award” for being innovative. WeCyclers which started operation in Lagos, last four years has been noticed by many for their great work. Bilikiss, a Trained Computer Programmer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) thought up an idea that would save her city back at Home. Growing up in Lagos, she was fully aware of the horror that comes with rain in the city. After every rain, streets are flooded and cars may have to park and wait out the floor. This was mainly due to clogged up drainage and poor waste management.
Waste management is a big issue in Nigeria, and Lagos being the most populated city bears the weight of this problem the most. With the State Government currently able to collect only about 40% of city’s solid waste, only 13% of recyclable materials collected are eventually salvaged from landfills leaving the city more waste to battle with. From clogged up drainage to the foul smell of Lagos, Bilikiss knew she could help out with her idea and that was how WeCyclers was born.
Leaving her Job in the US, She was determined to make a change with her startup. Today, WeCyclers backed by the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), picks up solid wastes from low-income communities in Lagos. Solid waste collected ranging from plastic bottles to plastic bags to aluminum cans are conveyed by low-cost bicycle-powered vehicles and sold to recycling companies. Participating Residents are rewarded with redeemable points that can later translated to Prizes.
Considering how relevant the scheme has been, Bilikiss has been recognized by the state government, even winning some local awards but these were just the beginning. With the fact that her waste collection scheme incorporated technology - the use of SMS in alerting the collectors; she was on June 2, awarded the prestigious 'International Grand Prize' at Le Monde's Smart Cities Innovation Awards.
The French newspaper, Le Monde along with her, awarded seven other applicants around the world for urban innovation. The awards given were based on innovative integration of information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of things (IoT) technology in urban development, reflecting the Smart City Vision.