Cash from trash: Indian company takes advantage of hazardous waste opportunity

Rakesh Dudhat, chairman of Shree Hari Group

Rakesh Dudhat, chairman of Shree Hari Group

Up until a few years ago, much of the hazardous waste generated by Equatorial Guinea’s oil and gas industry had to be exported to neighbouring countries, where it could be treated properly.

That was before India’s Shree Hari Group saw an opportunity to start a local waste management business.

Established in 2010, the group’s Golden Swan subsidiary today offers waste solutions to most of the large oil and gas players, as well as industries such as construction and healthcare.

At its facilities on the outskirts of Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo, Golden Swan takes care of everything from waste chemicals and oil sludge, to scrap metals and medical waste.

According to Rakesh Dudhat, chairman of Shree Hari Group, refuse is good business. He projects 30% to 35% annual growth for the country’s waste management industry.

Dudhat says his company hasn’t been affected too much by the significant drop in the price of oil over the past two years, which has led to dwindling oil and gas activity. He says there is pent-up demand from the oil and gas sector as well as other industries because many companies have been storing their waste.

He also highlights numerous upcoming commercial projects in Equatorial Guinea that will provide opportunities for his company, including a petrochemical complex and the new oil city development in the town of Luba.

“Until we arrived, the waste management sector was not well organised and there was no good solution provider. Every day we are growing awareness among companies on how to handle their waste. So day by day we are going to increase our business.

“Waste management used to be a big headache for Equatoguinean companies in sectors such as oil and gas, construction and healthcare,” he says, adding those that exported their waste had to abide by the Basel Convention’s strict regulations that control the transboundary movements of hazardous waste.

Harnessing Africa’s opportunities

Shree Hari Group has businesses across the world, including India, the UAE, and Australia. However, Dudhat is especially optimistic about Africa’s potential, but emphasises the importance of boosting intra-African trade.

“To motivate investment, there needs to be a market for the products that companies produce. So African countries need to think about their intra-regional trade policies.”

He says prospective business people simply need to look at offering products and services not currently available.

“Now is the time for Africa. The revolution is coming within this decade. There are a lot of needs here, in every sector – power, infrastructure, education and telecommunications.”

In Equatorial Guinea specifically, Dudhat also sees various untapped opportunities. “There are still many sectors that remain unexplored. Equatorial Guinea has good natural resources, so people can look at agriculture and food processing. The country also has a beautiful natural environment and a good climate, offering potential in the tourism sector.”

Shree Hari Group is planning to establish more business ventures in Equatorial Guinea. It has already started with the production of industrial gasses – such as oxygen, nitrogen and acetylene – and is currently mulling over opportunities to manufacture steel, plastics and furniture.

“So far we’ve already invested a lot of money here, but we want to keep developing more industries,” notes Dudhat.