Why major waste-to-power investments may not come to Nigeria soon – expert

For many reasons, Nigeria may not see major investments in waste-to-power generation soon despite her huge waste resources, a waste-to-power project finance specialist, Fatima Ademoh, has disclosed.

Ademoh, who is currently developing an embedded waste-to-power plant in the Kuje part of Abuja, stated at the August edition of the monthly power dialogue of the Nextier Advisory, that Nigeria’s unique but untapped advantage in waste-to-power generation could remain latent unless a proper policy on waste management was enacted by the government to create the kind of buzz needed to set off the value chain.

Beyond the lack of an appropriate policy, Ademoh, also identified poor awareness; funding; and non-existent in-country capacity for waste-to-power projects as some of the key challenges that have kept the sector from taking off.

Specifically, Ademoh, explained that a policy that would support proper waste management and guarantee consistent feedstock to power plants was needed in Nigeria, adding that private funders would look at the sector only when it has the right policies to support their investments.

She equally stated that developing countries such as Kenya have been able to create a profitable and proactive waste-to-power value chain with the right policies.

“We’ve heard there are opportunities in the sector, it is viable, it is tested and done, but what are the constraints holding more waste-to-power plants from starting up?

“The first is the lack of awareness on available technology. Most people you speak to, and tell them you want to convert waste to power, they are always like how is that done, is that possible. So, there is so much knowledge gap where a lot of people don’t believe waste can be used for power and this is despite that there are several technologies that are available. We need to get people to be aware of this,” said Ademoh.

She further stated: “There is also feedstock volatility. Doing a waste to power, you are going to ask yourself where you are going to get the waste from. There is a big issue where we don’t have concrete record; even the World Bank record is estimate based on the country’s population.

“The reason we don’t have that record is because we don’t have a close loop waste management system. If you live outside the city, you don’t have a proper waste management system.”

According to her: “We also have the issue of capacity equipment because most of the equipment we use are not developed within the country. There is the issue of financing. The capex is high to build waste to power plant. We have policy as well.”

Private finance waiting for right policy

Ademoh underlined that the right policy on waste management would attract the right investments in power generation, adding that the country’s customary haphazard waste disposal practice was obstructing financiers’ interest in the sector.

“For us to have a closed loop waste to power system, we need to develop a waste management policy before the private sector can kick in. most Nigerians don’t see waste management as a service.

“People have to pay for disposing their waste, and until we get to the level when we recognise that waste management is a service, that is how the whole value chain will be productive.

“We don’t have land fill tax to ensure that before any one throws out trash, they have to pay. These are the things we have to do to ensure that we have a proper waste management value chain,” she added.