By Paul Ndiho
Across Africa, waste management is a huge problem. Thousands of tons of waste are generated daily, most of which end up in open dumps or along roads and wetlands posing major health problems to local residents. But in Nigeria, Lagos state government says this is about to change.
Lagos, one of Africa’s largest cities, generates tons of trash every day and most of it ends up at the Olusosun dump site. The massive piles of garbage are a major health hazard– and it’s also contaminating the environment.
The state government says its pilot waste-to-energy project is now generating electricity at a demonstration center in the country’s commercial capital. The project turns organic waste into electricity, which will supply residents with regular power.
The waste to energy project presents a major opportunity for renewable energy and waste management. A pilot project run by the Lagos waste management authority is working to generate power using methane extracted from rotting fruit waste and then turn it into latent power.
Officials are hopeful the proposed technology will help to address the energy supply shortages in many regions, create jobs and promote development.
“The gas is building up over a period of time in the digester, also you will have digesters in there in form of organic composts like a sludge; over a period of time it could actually open up here and collects the sludge. This is also good as a fertilizer for the soil and the plants,”
Implementation of the project will be a new approach to waste management and treatment in the West African nation. Adeyo says that about 45 percent of the city’s trash is made up of organic waste and converting it into something more useful and cleaner for the environment is long overdue.
The plan, modeled on similar ones being used in Norway and Sweden, is part of a broader effort to clean up a city that has become known as the ‘garbage capital of the world.’
“Energy is in demand, waste is a headache so there’s a link between the headache and the demand so if Lagos is able to convert more of its headache into that demand then it will bring out a smart city program because the city becomes smarter and there’s a kind of resilience that you introduce in the city program and that’s exactly what Lagos is looking at.”
Traders at the Ikosi market say the project will help to clean up the local plantain market and also enable them switch off their generators when the power comes on.
“I’ll feel happy because you know, to make fruits so the fruits can turn to gas and bring us light, yes, I’ll feel happy and will enjoy it more than… Now we’re buying fuel for 100 Naira per litter i think this one will be better than using petrol.”
The Lagos state government is planning to bury the Olusosun site in dirt and transform it into a green park with grass and trees built over it. Pipes in the ground will harness the methane bubbling underneath for the power plant. Analysts say that Africa needs to rethink how it handles its waste and that the waste to energy project will provide a diversion away from trash dumps and landfills.