Scaling-Up Sustainable Renewable Energy Generation from Municipal Solid Waste in the African Continent: Lessons from eThekwini, South Africa

Gumbo, Trynos

The triple processes of urbanisation, industrialisation and globalisation are positively correlated with municipal solid waste generation and energy consumption in all the world urban centres. Heavy reliance on fossil fuels in most world cities has contributed not only to new challenges of global warming and climate change, but also to astronomic increases and volatility in the prices of energy sources. Africa has not been spared from the shortages of energy and climate change concerns as it has not only very low oil reserves but also depends heavily on finite and environmental unfriendly coal resources; thus making the need for innovations and rethinking in renewable energy generation more urgent than ever. It has repeatedly been observed that the African continent is endowed with several renewable energy sources that range from solar, hydro, municipal solid waste and wind. This article discusses the experiences of converting waste to energy in eThekwini municipality, one of the metropolitan cities of South Africa and also highlights prospects of implementing the same experiences in other African countries. The study unearthed cutting-edge innovations by the Department of Cleansing and Solid Waste of eThekwini municipality that adopted modern municipal solid waste management and treatment systems. For almost a decade now, the municipality has demonstrated to the wholly of the continent and the world at large that it is possible for African cities to achieve the twin objectives of generating clean renewable energy sources that contributes to economic development at the same time reducing urban social and environmental problems associated with improper disposal of waste, a common blot on the African city-landscape. It also reveals that there exist great opportunities to improve waste management, financial investments, technological take-up and skills sets to support the continent’s green energy revolution in the African Continent.

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Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development

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Academic Units
Earth Institute
Published Here
December 9, 2015