Citi Innovation Heroes: Ghana’s Safi Sana transforming waste into energy

While the sanitation situation in Ghana’s capital, Accra, seem to be one of the toughest challenges to surmount with very limited waste management ideas and practices, there appear to be a shining example of what needs to be done urgently to arrest the situation.

200 metres away from the Tema motorway under-bridge, is Adjei-Kojo, a community in Ashaiaman in the Greater Accra Region, where Safi Sana Ghana Limited operates.

The company, which has been operating for the past 6 years, is leading a revolution to address Ghana’s sanitation challenges, and at the same time, producing energy to feed the country’s national grid.

The social enterprise operates a simple model that sees it collect faecal matter and solid waste, pass them through its factory machines to produce organic fertilizer for agricultural purposes, and energy to support the national electricity grid.

Raymond Ategbi Okrofu, the Country Manager for Safi Sana Ghana, said the company’s model is effective and can be scaled or replicated in various parts of the country.

Schermafbeelding 2016-02-12 om 15.12.30

“Being the first plant, we were a bit modest in our design, it can be designed to handle any amount of waste, but the first plant we have here, it is designed to have 30 metric tonnes of waste daily.”

Safi Sana currently sources solid waste from the Ashaiman market, Accra abattoir and faecal matter from the various public toilet facilities within Ashaiman.

“We have a big anaerobic digester which accomodates all the various strings of waste so it goes through the process of fermentation and the gas is produced, and we channel the gas to power a generator… currently we are doing about 1.6 megawatts daily; but there is the capacity to do more if we have clean waste and we increase the size of the digester,” Mr Okrofu explained on the Citi Breakfast Show.

He added that the company had entered a Power Purchasing Agreement with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), that enables it to feed the power generated into the national grid and receives payment for it.

The technology being deployed at the company is imported from Netherlands, and is an initiative of Aqua for All in a consortium of commercial and public partners, including Royal HaskoningDHV, African Development Bank and Wereld Waternet, who raised the €2.5 million needed to start the project.

According to Mr. Okrofu, building a similar plant in other parts of the country may cost less, due to the avoidance of costs including registration of business and other related services.

He however advised that more investments should be made to increase the capacity of the project, rather than replicate the exact project at its current small capacity in various parts of the country.

Safi Sana Model

“The benefits of this project is not just electricity, you have sanitation, agriculture, job creation and others… I can tell that we cut across about 5 ministries mentioned by the current president – local government, power, agriculture, sanitation and water,” he adds.

Having spent almost three years to finally establish and officially commence operation of the waste management business after a period of piloting, Safi Sana is hopeful that creating another system to serve the same function on a larger scale, will take less than a year to complete.

By: Jonas Nyabor/citifmonline.com/Ghana