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Waste-to-energy projects in Africa

African trash landfills waste-to-energy projects and issues.

Waste-to-energy (WTE) is the process of converting waste into usable forms of energy, such as heat and electricity. WTE can be used to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills and incinerators, and it can also be a source of renewable energy. Waste-to-energy projects in Africa are gaining increasing attention as a way to address both waste management and energy challenges on the continent. These projects typically involve the conversion of waste materials, such as municipal solid waste, agricultural waste, and biomass, into energy through various processes such as incineration, gasification, and anaerobic digestion.

WTE has the potential to be a major part of the solution to Africa's waste management problems. WTE can help to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, and it can also be a source of renewable energy. As African cities continue to grow, WTE will become an increasingly important option for managing waste.

Four Waste-to-energy projects in Africa.

1. Kpone Independent Power Plant (KIPP) in Ghana uses municipal solid waste as a feedstock to generate electricity through incineration. The plant is fueled by natural gas, which is supplied by the West African Gas Pipeline. The Kpone Independent Power Plant is a significant addition to Ghana's electricity generation capacity. The plant is expected to help to improve the country's power supply reliability and to reduce its reliance on imported power.

2. Goreangab Water Reclamation Plant in Namibia uses anaerobic digestion to treat wastewater and produce biogas, which is then used to generate electricity. It is the largest water reclamation plant in Namibia, and it is the only plant in the country that can produce potable water from wastewater. The plant was built in 1968, and it was upgraded in 2002. The plant provides up to 20% of Windhoek city's water, and it helps to reduce the city's reliance on groundwater. The plant also helps to protect the environment by reducing the amount of wastewater that goes to landfills.

3. Cairo Waste-to-Energy Plant in Egypt uses a combination of incineration and gasification to convert municipal solid waste into electricity and other byproducts such as ash and metals. The plant is located in the Abu Rawash industrial zone in Giza Governorate west of Greater Cairo. The plant is expected to start commercial operation in 2024. The Cairo Waste-to-Energy Plant is a significant project for Egypt. The plant will help to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, and it will also generate clean, renewable energy. The plant is a model for other countries that are looking to manage their waste and to generate clean energy. The Cairo Waste-to-Energy Plant is a controversial project. Some people have raised concerns about the environmental impact of the plant, and others have questioned the cost of the project. However, the Egyptian government has defended the project, saying that it is necessary to address the country's waste management problems.

4. Bronkhorstspruit Biogas project in South Africa uses agricultural waste, such as cow manure and poultry litter, to produce biogas that is used to generate electricity. The Bronkhorstspruit Biogas Project is the first commercial-scale biogas plant in Africa. The plant has been in operation since 2015 and has generated over 100 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. The plant has also diverted over 200,000 tons of organic waste from landfills. The company is planning to develop additional waste-to-energy projects in South Africa and Mozambique. 

Waste-to-energy projects have the potential to provide a range of benefits, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving waste management, and increasing energy security. 

However, there are also concerns about the environmental and social impacts of these projects, such as air pollution and displacement of informal waste pickers. As such, it is important to carefully consider the design, implementation, and monitoring of waste-to-energy projects to ensure that they are sustainable, socially just, and environmentally responsible.

Organic waste such as human feces and urine are the leading type of waste product in Africa. Africa’s broken windows theory is visible sign of cities volume of waste which is increasing in accordance with the continuous growth of urban citizens.

Kiteezi, Mpererwe Uganda aging 29 acre Kiteezi landfill

Kiteezi, Mpererwe Uganda aging 29 acre Kiteezi landfill

In rural areas, a household can dispose of its waste in a self-contained fashion by burying it in the ground, burning it, or feeding it to livestock. Once people start living together, however, waste cannot be handled in these ways. Waste accumulates in urban cities causing unsanitary conditions in living areas.

The urban population in Africa is steadily increasing. This trend will continue in Africa: the total population is expected to grow by 105%, or approximately double, from 2015 to 2050, and the urban population is expected to grow by 284%, or approximately triple, over the same period.

Waste is often thrown about on the streets in many unkempt African streets, or back alleys and vacant land are used for the dumping of inorganic and organic waste. According to the broken windows theory these conditions can also lead to a deterioration in the local security situation by permitting offensive behavior.

Pooping in the bush may be something new for you, but in Africa, it is an everyday practice. People are not pooping in the bush because they unlearned hygiene basics. In fact, in most jurisdictions, pooping and dumping untreated human waste in or on the ground is not permitted. However, sightings of humans using the bush as toilets are a regular accepted event.

The biggest concern with regard to human feces is the spread of disease. Free waste alleviation and gelling bags are sold throughout Africa. These sealable bags contain Poo Powder, a NASA-developed super absorbent that turns poop into an inert, odorless gel. However, the bags themselves are single use and end up in landfills.

Most people bury their poop but if done improperly it can pollute water sources, incest life and plants. Largely individuals use a stick to make a hole 6 to 8 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches round. Use a stick to stir it in with your waste in the hole, and then cover it up thoroughly.  Humans produce up to a pound of poop per day and human feces take about a year to biodegrade.

There are clear health risks as the crowded, unsanitary conditions make the area a high risk for communicable disease. Some African urban city planners tried to install more public toilets, provide soap, water and hand basins, and step up waste collection to curb the unsanitary conditions but the practice of pooping in the bush remains strongly entrenched in mainstream African society.

Pooping in public places may seem as if society has morally downgraded itself to allow such a practice but in Africa, this broken windows theory does not fit as pooping in the bush is a thousands of years old African habit. 

However, organic waste, the main component of waste in Africa, attracts insects, rats and other pests. In regions with high temperatures, waste tends to promote the breeding of flies and mosquitoes that can cause the spread of deadly diseases. 

Even collected waste is improperly disposed of in many cities. At least 70% of waste is disposed of in open dumpsites in urban areas of Africa. Straggling economic growth in poorer African urban cities makes it difficult to secure money for waste management when hunger and safety are prominent issues. The countries of Africa, however, have high non-collection rates relative to the status of economic growth. These countries have serious problems in both waste collection and transport.

The 30 acre landfill located in the east of Nairobi Kenya.
The 30 acre landfill located in the east of Nairobi Kenya.

Dandora is a dumpsite and landfill in Nairobi, Kenya and is one of the largest dumpsites in Africa.

Dandora is Nairobi Kenya main dump site and landfill, it receives more than 2,000 metric tons of waste from the capital city’s 4.5 million residents. The 30 acre landfill is located in the east of Nairobi supports recycling businesses which employs thousands of families. From bottles and cans, scrap metal to ink cartridges, bullets to construction materials, Dandora landfill labors recycle a huge variety of items in exchange for cash.

Near Kampala Uganda, in Kiteezi, Mpererwe the Kiteezi and the new 135 acre Ddundu landfill site alleviate to issue of uncollected waste that is normally dumped in unauthorized sites, causing health and environmental problems.

While organics account for much of the waste composition in Africa, lifestyle changes brought about by economic growth are pushing up the amount of waste requiring special treatment for disposal such as plastics, electronic products, and tires. Large volumes of used electrical and electronic products are imported from developed countries, many of which no longer work.

Even collected waste is improperly disposed of in many cities disposed of in open dumpsites. Open dumping causes many problems. Apart from the abovementioned problems of insects and pests, it also leads to the contamination of surface water and groundwater from leachate, offensive odors, and fires. 

Leachate are particularly substances because harmful liquids passes through dumpsites and landfills and has extracted dissolved and suspended matter. Open dumping sites also release methane into the atmosphere without any controls, which contributes to climate change via the strong greenhouse effect of the gas.

Beyond Africa’s broken windows theory countries require social change with the development of legal systems and improvements in institutional capacity and civil consciousness to respond to the problems of waste. These changes can take time. These waste issues are occurring at a speed that overtakes the process of social change.

The leading type of waste product in the world is municipal solid waste (MSW), also known as household waste or garbage. This includes the waste generated by households, businesses, institutions, and other non-industrial sources. 

MSW typically includes organic materials, paper, plastic, glass, metal, and other types of solid waste. According to the World Bank, global MSW generation is expected to increase from 2.01 billion tons in 2016 to 3.40 billion tons by 2050. 

Proper management of MSW is a significant environmental and public health challenge, as untreated waste can contaminate soil, air, and water sources, leading to a range of negative impacts on human and ecological health.

Landfill sites in Africa are often located in urban areas and are used to dispose of municipal solid waste (MSW), which includes household garbage, commercial and industrial waste, and construction and demolition debris. 

The number of landfill sites in Africa is increasing due to rapid urbanization and population growth, which is generating more waste that needs to be disposed of. However, many of these landfill sites face significant challenges, such as inadequate funding, lack of proper infrastructure, and limited government capacity to regulate waste management practices.

In many cases, landfill sites in Africa are poorly managed, leading to environmental and public health risks. For example, waste may be left uncovered, allowing it to be blown around by the wind, or it may be burned, releasing toxic gases into the air. In addition, many landfill sites lack proper lining and cover materials, which can lead to contamination of soil and groundwater by hazardous chemicals and other pollutants.

Despite these challenges, there are efforts underway to improve landfill management in Africa. These efforts include the implementation of more sustainable waste management practices, such as recycling and composting, as well as the development of innovative waste-to-energy projects that can turn waste into a valuable energy source. 

Governments, NGOs, and private companies are also working to improve the infrastructure and regulation of landfill sites, with the aim of reducing the negative impacts of waste on the environment and public health. WTE is a viable option for managing waste and generating energy. It is a clean, efficient, and sustainable way to use waste that would otherwise go to landfills or incinerators.

WTE has the potential to be a major part of the solution to Africa's waste management problems. WTE can help to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfills, and it can also be a source of renewable energy. As African cities continue to grow, WTE will become an increasingly important option for managing waste.

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