Profit-making idea: Waste-to-energy solutions in Nigeria

Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy but it faces a serious electricity deficit. According to the World Bank, about 47% of Nigerians do not have access to grid electricity and those who are connected, face regular power cuts.

Solving this crisis is an opportunity for entrepreneurs, says Onyekachi Izukanne, CEO of TradeDepot, a B2B e-commerce and inventory finance platform in Nigeria.

“Something I would be keen to explore, if I had the opportunity, is waste-to-energy conversion,” says Izukanne. “I really think our energy gap is an opportunity. With the right model, you can drive energy conversion and deploy it on a small-scale basis to SMEs in urban areas, especially manufacturing set-ups,” he says.

Izukanne believes that while stable electricity is a top priority for the government, the private sector will need to play a key role in providing solutions to the challenge. Although the government launched the National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan in March 2017, which had reliable power supply at its core, not enough progress has been made.

The country suffers from regular, unscheduled blackouts and the cost of the energy shortages is the equivalent of 2% of GDP. It is ranked as one of the major constraints for the private sector.

Waste to energy does not get as much publicity as other sustainable energy generation solutions. It has achieved some success in Europe but in Africa, there are only a few that are viable, according to the Africa Report. Recently, a Premium Times article cited that the food-waste-fed Ketu Ikosi Biogas Project in Lagos has been completely abandoned.

Last year, a study was concluded by a research team from the Glasgow Caledonian University which estimated that residual waste in Abuja and Lagos could generate 54 GWh/year and 475 GWh/year respectively; sufficient to power over 11,000 and 94,000 homes.

“My bias would be to look at the technology that can drive the conversion, specifically for urban small- to medium-scale manufacturing,” says Izukanne.