Molok wastes no time during African expansion
These Finnish waste solutions continue breaking new ground with their clean, safe and efficient alternatives.
While the southwest Finnish town of Nokia is renowned for spawning a certain eponymous mobile communications company, one shouldn’t assume that this is the municipality’s sole claim to fame in the business world.
Far from it.
Since 1991, local company Molok has been providing its semi-underground Deep Collection waste containers to a global customer base. While their biggest markets are in Northern and Western Europe, the company has seen rapid expansion in Africa during the past few years.
After some minor sales were made in Angola, Molok first arrived in Namibia almost four years ago to undertake a comprehensive pilot study testing the market’s potential. With Southern Africa’s regional economy experiencing annual growth of around five per cent, prospects seemed promising. The company certainly didn’t anticipate what was to come.
Setting up their inaugural container at a hospital in Ondangwa, good word-of-mouth saw Molok spreading quickly around Namibia and into the neighbouring countries of Zambia and South Africa.
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, indeed.
Now with a presence in eight African countries, the hygienic properties of Molok containers are successfully challenging stereotypes surrounding rubbish in the region.
“Normally when speaking about waste people are used to bins being left open that are full and have garbage bags lying around,” explains Saritta Duhamel, controller, global activities at Molok.
However, the simple yet effective design of the Molok storage containers offers a welcome alternative. Around 60 per cent of each container is located below ground, taking up less space and serving another important purpose.
“Because of the coolness of the ground, there are no problems with odour,” Duhamel explains, also pointing to the effectiveness of having a black lid firmly capping the container. “When the sun hits the lid, the waste also dries and then there is no smell.”
Another telltale sign of a poorly kept rubbish disposal area – flies and mosquitoes – are typically non-existent around Molok containers, due to the unique design helping diminish humidity levels.
Not going to waste
For Molok, entering a new market is not about simply digging a hole, filling it with a container and asking people to put their rubbish in it. Extensive market research is needed beforehand, including finding a distributer already active in the local waste management business. For their African pursuit, they chose Rent-A-Drum, a firm well-established in many Southern African countries. Together they implement pilot projects to gauge future successes and win municipal approval.
“Distributors do all of the checking of the sites, and also organise the group that will dig the hole in the ground and install the container,” Duhamel explains. “It’s pretty simple; not much technology. Once it is installed it is ready to use.”
To keep up with demand Molok has also licensed their containers to a distributer in Namibia. Cutting down on the sizeable transportations times and costs, this local production is concentrating solely on Southern Africa sales at the moment. This may change in the near future. The company is also closely looking at markets in Mozambique, Ethiopia and Kenya, and has been entertaining interest from some Central African nations.
Competition in the waste removal industry is fierce, yet Molok remains unfazed – the quality of their products is evident.
“Of course, we have many competitors, but they come and go,” Duhamel observes. “We still have the same bags and lids in use in some [global] locations. Our products are really durable and long lasting.”
Text: James O’Sullivan
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