Only 1 out of 5 people has access to electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Out of nearly 1 billion people who do not have electricity worldwide, 50 percent are residing in Sub-Saharan African countries.
Lack of access to reliable electricity has been a widespread challenge in the African continent for decades, negatively affecting quality of life, economic growth and market competitiveness.
According to World Bank, regular load shedding is costing the African economy 2.1 percent of its GDP. The institution further highlighted the plight of Africa’s manufacturing sector, where enterprises typically experience 56 days of power outages every year, resulting in 6 percent loss in sales revenues.
If back-up power is unavailable, manufacturing businesses can even lose up to 20 percent of their profits.
Africa’s power deficiency is also affecting its healthcare sector – only 34 percent of hospitals and 28 percent of healthcare facilities have access to electricity, while 58 percent of its healthcare facilities have absolutely no electricity.
To support its economic growth and improve overall quality of life, Africa is actively looking for sustainable energy generation technologies to close the vast gap between its power demand and supply.
One promising solution is to tap into its considerable waste-to-energy potential.
Why waste-to-energy investment makes sense for Africa
In 2012, African urban cities produced 125 million tonnes of waste, which could have generated 62.5 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity and supplied 9.5 percent of its 661.5 TWh-electricity use in 2010, according to a study conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
In addition, 57 percent of Africa’s total waste includes organic waste products, such as food, agricultural and human waste, which can be transformed into energy.
This energy source can deliver a more consistent supply of baseload power, compared with other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind, which depend on varying weather conditions.
Investing in waste-to-energy facilities can therefore help address Africa’s growing waste problem, while increasing power supply at municipality and national levels.
It can also generate new jobs, boost local economies and enhance the African’s population’s quality of life, health, safety and environment – all while driving sustainable growth and reducing environmental impact.
Harnessing energy from waste can also enable Africa to unlock the economic potential of its waste industry, which UNEP and CSIR say can contribute up to USD 8 billion in annual revenues to the African economy, if waste resources are maximised throughout its value chain.
Now, the question is, “If waste-to-energy is highly feasible and profitable in Africa, then why is it not widely implemented?”
Lack or absence of infrastructure, insufficient funding, inaccessibility of modern WtE technologies, and lack of awareness and education on the numerous advantages of WtE are some of the major stumbling blocks to Africa’s waste-to-energy industry.
However, in recent years, a number of WtE projects have started development as African governments seek to implement long-term profitable solutions to their waste problems, as well as stimulate sustainable and environmentally friendly growth in their respective countries.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) are also playing a key role. Local governments and international companies are tying up to address issues of infrastructure, technology and capital funding.
A notable example of such partnerships is the Reppie waste-to-energy project, which has started operations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in August this year.
Reppie is the first project of its kind in Africa, a milestone that African governments are keen to replicate across the region.
The role of Visionscape Group in accelerating growth in Africa’s waste-to-energy industry
Visionscape have the latest technologies, resources and specialists to design, build and operate small- to large-scale WtE projects that comply with international standards and regulations.
Our expert solutions include developing and implementing specialised technologies for generating energy from waste products: anaerobic digestion plants, landfill gas projects and energy-efficient CHP systems.
We are guided by our vision and commitment to provide eco-friendly and sustainable business solutions across the globe, with a focus on emerging markets in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our objectives as an environmental utility conglomerate coincide with Africa’s sustainability goals, and we seek to partner with African governments and municipalities in realising their full waste-to-energy potential.