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The New Reppie Incinerator at Koshe Landfill in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


On Sunday, August 19th 2018, the Reppie waste to energy incinerator was inaugurated at the Koshe landfill site, on the outskirts of Addis Ababa [1]. The 118 million-dollar [2] project is the result of a partnership between the Government of Ethiopia and a consortium of international companies: Cambridge Industries Limited (Singapore), China National Electric Engineering and Ramboll, a Danish engineering firm [3]. The new plant burns rubbish and uses the heat to boil water and generate the steam needed to drive two turbine generators [4]. 

For about fifty years prior to the opening of the incinerator, waste pickers had been bringing garbage from Koshe landfill to Minalesh Tera, a central market of Addis Ababa, and selling it to middlemen or wholesalers [5]. The landfill, which is around the size of 36 football fields [4], has grown to such a massive size that on March 11, 2017, 130 waste pickers were killed by an avalanche of garbage [9]. 75 of those killed were women, highlighting the gendered mortality gap caused by unequal access to resources [7]. However, instead of prompting the government to support the health, safety, and livelihoods of waste pickers, this tragedy only accelerated Reppie’s construction.

Reppie is intended to convert 350,000 tons of solid waste into 50MW of electricity annually [2]. This amounts to 1,400 tons of waste daily, or roughly 80% of the refuse generated by Addis Ababa [8]. While this is presented as a solution to the urban population’s accumulation of waste and growing energy demand by supplying the capital with 30% of household electricity needs [8], it comes at the expense of the living wage of waste pickers, who will lose their only income source [9]. Consequently, the Reppie incinerator further marginalizes and displaces wastepickers, who are the informal recycling system of the city.

Samuel Alemayehu, a Stanford engineer and former Silicon Valley entrepreneur who oversees the project, claims that “local waste pickers have to be an integral part of the project” [6], but this has yet to be seen. The reality is that incinerators offer relatively few jobs when compared to recycling. The Reppie incinerator is depriving waste pickers in the city of Addis Ababa of their livelihoods by burning the same materials that sustain recycling, such as paper and plastics [2]. Waste pickers do not work in landfills by choice but as a result of failed waste management systems, rampant poverty and inequality [9]. This incinerator does little to address these social issues and instead only perpetuates social and environmental injustice.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:The New Reppie Incinerator at Koshe Landfill in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
State or province:Addis Ababa
Location of conflict:Addis Ababa
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Waste privatisation conflicts / waste-picker access to waste
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Recycled Metals

Project Details and Actors

Project details

1,400 tons of waste burned daily [8], 350,000 tons of waste burned annually [2].

50MW of electricity produced annually [2].

Project area:19
Level of Investment for the conflictive project118,000,000 [2]
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:500-600 waste pickers [11].
Start of the conflict:24/11/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Cambridge Industries Limited from Singapore - Provider of capital/technology
China National Electric Engineering Corporation (CNEEC) from China
Ramboll from Denmark
Relevant government actors:Government of Ethiopia
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Wastepickers, recyclers
Forms of mobilization:Land occupation


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Global warming, Soil contamination
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Proposal and development of alternatives: Global Alliance of Incinerator Alternatives
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The incinerator is still in operation, and it is not likely that the industry or the government has found a way to secure waste picker employment

Sources & Materials

[1] Africa's first Waste-to-Energy Plant launched in Ethiopia


[3] Ethiopia’s waste-to-energy plant is a first in Africa

[4] This African city is turning a mountain of trash into energy

[5] Formal and Informal Actors in Addis Ababa's Solid Waste Management System

[6] Africa's First waste-to-energy-plant set up in Addis Ababa

[7] Women bear the brunt of Africa’s urban disasters, such as the collapse of landfills

[8] Ethiopia opens Africa's first waste-to-energy facility

[9] Addis Ababa Landfill Tragedy Is Just The Tip Of The Iceberg


[11] Recognise Informal Waste Pickers To Avoid Future Disasters Like Koshe

Meta information

Contributor:Rickie Cleere, University of Bayreuth - ICTA, [email protected]
Last update07/10/2020
Conflict ID:4128



Koshe Landfill

Picture of waste piled high at Koshe landfill

Reppie Facility

Picture of the Reppie Waste-to-Energy incinerator facility

Reppie Facility

Picture of the Reppie Waste-to-Energy incinerator facility

Koshe Landfill

Picture of waste piled high at Koshe landfill