Rwanda: Kigali to Pilot 'Smart' Waste Management System

Workers sort garbage at Nduba dump site in Gasabo District (file photo).
1 September 2020

With Kigali's population expected to double by 2035, waste management, affordable housing, and access to transport services as well as water are critical issues.

The Ministry of ICT and Innovation has started the search for a firm to implement a smart system for waste management in Kigali city.

The proposed project will feature smart dustbins and smart waste stations.

According to Smart Africa Secretariat, an African Union-backed non-profit organisation partnering with the ministry to implement the project, the initiative will begin "as soon as the contract is signed".

The winning design is expected to be announced in early December 2020.

During the pilot phase, smart waste collection stations will be installed in 10 public markets across all three districts that make up Kigali.

The US$100,000 project consists of collection, transportation, treatment, recycling and disposal of waste.

This, the Kigali-based Smart Africa Secretariat says, waste management is still costly, hence the need for an effective system to collect and sort waste

The proposed system aims to minimize the resources spent on the daunting exercise.

Its solar-powered stations will introduce waste sorting at generation sites and feature smart dustbins with a real-time monitoring system which uses sensor technologies to alert collectors on garbage fill levels.

In addition, according to officials, they also will have dashboards where gathered information could be analysed and displayed, as well as an end-to-end security system featuring CCTV cameras and Geographic Information System (GIS).

In Rwanda, waste collection and monitoring is still done manually, a model that experts say is inefficient and also poses some environmental related risks.

At least 450 tonnes of waste are collected in Kigali every day.

Now city authorities hope the proposed project will make the waste collection process smarter and data driven.

An official in the Ministry of ICT and Innovation said that the project will reduce fuel emissions stemming from garbage collection trucks, allowing waste recycling to take place in a smoother manner.

Kigali, now home to over 1.6 million population, is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa.

With Kigali's population expected to double by 2035, waste management, affordable housing, and access to transport services as well as water are critical issues.

The urban population in Africa will triple over the next 50 years.

A 2018 environment assessment report revealed that only 36 per cent of the urban dwellers are served by waste collection services. About 30 per cent dump waste in nearby bushes and 29.5 throw them in fields.

Experts argue that addressing waste management in Africa's fast growing cities will require innovative engineering and technology-based solutions.

However, the country has no single centralised waste treatment plant.

Kigali only has Nduba dumpsite which, according to the neighbouring citizens, is a serious health threat.

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