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Potential of Electricity Generation from Land Filling in Eritrea

By

S. Habtetsion, B. Ghirmay and I. Tesfu


Executive Summary

This report presents an assessment of the solid waste management regime in Asmara and an analysis of the potential for energy generation from municipal solid waste.  Due to the unavailability of country-wide data, the study concentrates on Asmara, the capital city. It is also important to note that more than half of the country’s urban solid waste is generated in Asmara.  

This study attempted to determine the potential of energy recovery from municipal waste. Data from the sanitary unit of the Municipality of Asmara was used to estimate the total collected solid waste from Asmara.  Estimates of the quantity of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) collected and landfilled by the sanitary unit of the municipality of Asmara were compiled.  The study assessed the type of solid waste generated and collected as well as the sources and composition.  The results showed that the amount of combustible (organic) waste generated in the city is about 73% by weight and over 90% of the combustibles are biodegradable. About 70% of the collected waste is from the household sector, 14.2% industrial, 4.8% institutional, 4.4% commercial (market places), 1.6% hospitals and 5% from street sweepings.  

The current urban solid waste management system in Asmara is not adequate.  Waste that is collected is disposed of in an open dump, which has led to environmental and health problems. Separation of wastes is not done.  In addition, the resources of the Municipality of Asmara for waste collection are insufficient and are poorly maintained.  Waste generation is bound to increase with increases in population and living standards.  The urban waste management system therefore needs to be improved.  

Electricity generation using landfilling is an attractive option for Asmara.  The generation of electricity from wastes would have 2 advantages: solving the urban solid waste disposal problem and generation of additional electricity, which can be used to electrify more people and also substitute electricity generated from fossil fuels.  This would lead to significant savings in convertible foreign exchange, since Eritrea imports all of its petroleum.   

Data and information on solid wastes in Asmara is not readily available.  Although the Sanitary Unit of the Municipality of Asmara keeps records of data on urban solid waste, the study found that the data collection process was not accurate.  There does not appear to be a proper system for updating and validating the data.  The lack of accurate and up-to-date data on solid wastes is a possible cause for the limited knowledge and exposure on the benefits of electricity generation from wastes among policy makers and the public.  

The key recommendation of the study is that electricity generation from solid waste using land filling presents an attractive option for the city of Asmara.  A set of policy options that would result in the successful implementation of a landfilling programme for Asmara are presented.


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