Ethiopia’s first waste-to-energy facility started construction in 2013 and was inaugurated this week as part of a United Nations environmental program to transform the Koshe dump site into the Reppie Project. The facility converts waste to energy by burning the waste, heating water that then produces steam which drives a turbine generator. The Government of Ethiopia working with Cambridge Industries Limited, based in Singapore, and a Danish engineering firm called, China National Electric Engineering, and Ramboll have constructed the $2.6 billion dollar facility. Consuming about 1,400 tons of waste daily, it will provide an estimated 30% of household electricity needs in the city of Addis Ababa.
Addis Ababa is one of the cities currently facing intense population growth from migration and has an unemployment rate of over 20% according to Africa News. This combination, the growth of migrants and unemployment rate, is what has turned many cities into “slum” cities across the continent. A landslide at the dumpsite where some people have been living and scavenging killed 114 people back in March. China has seen little competition for these development projects, and local Ethiopians are concerned about the long-term economic and political costs associated with this growth.
Aquaponics provides some hope to feed the masses. The company, Aquaponics Africa currently operates a farm site in Northern Natal producing vegetables and tilapia. The method of aquaponics dates back to ancient Egypt where plants are grown from naturally fertilized water from fish. The process is currently the most water and energy efficient in the field of horticulture and fisheries. Given the extreme environmental vulnerability of Africa due to climate change, this method removes the common issue of desertification which is currently claiming farmland on the continent.