Ethiopia has built a first of its kind waste-to-energy facility in its capital Addis Ababa. Construction of the waste processing facility named Reppie, which was commissioned in December, 2017 commenced in September 2014. The facility treats waste by combusting it and generating energy in the process. The process also sorts metals for recycling.

Reppie has the capacity to process over 400,000 tonnes of municipal waste per year and can produce of electricity annually and injects 185GWHrs of clean electricity to Ethiopia’s national grid every year.  This will be enough to power 30% of Addis Ababa’s households.

Apart from combusting solid waste, the facility also treats liquid waste and gases, freeing up over 200 cubic metres of water every day and using flue gas treatment to ensure only gases released into the atmosphere meet EU emission standards.

Cambridge Industries, part of the building consortium, says that the Reppie facility has the ability to treat 80 per cent of Addis Ababa’s waste. The project is built on the location of Koshe land fill, covering an area over 36 football pitches, that has been the only landfill in Addis Ababa for more than 50 years according to the UN.

The project is the result of a partnership between the Government of Ethiopia using Ethiopia’s Electric power Company and a consortium of international companies: Cambridge Industries Limited (Singapore), China National Electric Engineering and Danish engineering firm, Ramboll. The consortium intends to replicate the Reppie model to other parts of the Sub-Saharan Africa.

Treatment of waste by incineration is common practice in Europe, where nearly one-quarter of all municipal solid waste is incinerated according to UN Environment. France has 126 waste-to-energy plants, while Germany has 121 and Italy 40. However, the technology is still in its initial stages and may be part of the solution to Africa’s urban waste problems.