22 August 2017

Rwanda: Districts Move to Exploit Landfills for Income Generation, Job-Creation

In a bid to increase internal revenue generation, some districts have started to recycle and make products from waste materials.

This move also supports efforts geared at protecting the environment and optimal utilisation of all resources to create new jobs and boost development initiatives among rural local government, according to Ngoma District vice-mayor in charge of finance and economic development, Jean Marie Vianney Rwiririza.

Rwiririza told Business Times that the district has, for instance, set up a Rwf700 million plant that will recycle garbage and briquettes. The plant is scheduled to start production soon, he added.

Promoted by conservationists and proponents of sustainable development, briquettes are more efficient in cooking compared to charcoal. They can be made from garbage or saw dust, among others. The vice-mayor explained that the district is now seeking a firm to manage and operate the plant under a private-public partnership scheme.

"We are optimistic that the project will create more jobs along the value chain when production of briquettes starts in coming months," he said. The facility's initial production capacity during the pilot phase will be about 1,200 tonnes of briquettes per day. This will be scaled up at a later stage.

SERCO Company, which installed the equipment at the plant is currently training personnel who will work in the plant.

The plant needs 10 tonnes of garbage to start operations, but only 2.5 tonnes have been collected since the beginning of the year. Most of the waste is supplied by garbage collection cooperatives, and there is a plan to buy them at Rwf7 per kilogramme to able to attract more suppliers according to district officials. Rwiririza said the district is seeking ways to get more recyclable waste from neighbouring districts to ensure sustainable production. Already, garbage collection firms in those districts have been contacted to supply the factory.

Phillipe Rubayiza, the director of SERCO Company, said the firm will train 15 people to kick-start operations as the district waits to privatise the plant.

Rwanda is committed to the development and implementation of landfill regulations in all urban areas, extraction and utilisation of landfill gas (LFG) for power generation by 2030. This would reduce approximately 586,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and create off-farm jobs, according to the Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA). The dangers posed by garbage will, however, be reduced as districts and private investors strengthen ties to exploit the potential of landfills for economic purposes.

Some of the districts are not only constructing landfills but also target to turn garbage into resources such as energy and organic manure.

In Kamonyi District, garbage is used to make organic manure, while some waste is sold to local and regional recycling plants, Thaddee Tuyizere, the district vice-mayor in charge of finance and economic development, said.

The district contracted COPED to make fertilisers from the waste. Aimable Rwantunga, the general manager of COPED, told Business Times that the firm collects over 50 tonnes of waste per day, and has so far produced 100 tonnes of manure. They sell the manure to farmers at Rwf100 per kilogramme.

Some of the garbage, such as sawdust, dry agriculture waste, and rice husks, are used to make briquettes which they sell to prisons, schools, and military barracks.

"We also make plastic bags from recycled polythene materials, while waste such as papers is supplied to paper recycling plants; plastic bottles are sold to recycling firms in Uganda, and metals are sold to steel industries," he added.

The firm currently produces one tonne of briquettes per day.

Commenting on the two projects, Oreste Niyonsaba, the manager for clean cooking and biogas solutions at Energy Development Corporation Limited (EDCL), said that turning garbage into different energy solutions is one of the ways that will help ease pressure on the country's forests and support sustainable development.

Niyonsaba added that local governments and institutions in charge of sanitation are mandated to support such initiatives. City of Kigali authorities recently said they were seeking $14 million to develop another landfill where garbage will be treated and turned into energy.

The project will be developed with support from United Nations and Development Programme (UNDP), Green Climate Fund (GCF), and Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), according to city officials. At least 300 tonnes of waste is collected in the City of Kigali a day.

Cost-effective

One kilogramme of briquettes could be sold at Rwf30. This is much lower compared to Rwf300 for a small basket of charcoal or a bundle of firewood.

Supporting green growth

Landfills emit methane gas, representing the largest source of air emissions at about 70 per cent that escape into the atmosphere. This threatens the ozone layer and causes global warming.

Local governments are expected to integrate the green growth strategy in their development plans under an ongoing three-year project financed by the Rwanda Green Fund.

The project, that started in 2015, also seeks to help them develop green growth strategies and investment plans to attract funding.

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