By Niyi Tabiti
Stella Atiba is a reporter's delight. Beautiful and sophisticated, Stella Atiba is one woman who have seen it all. Aside her outward alluring beauty, Stella is also well endowed inside. When she talks about her dream for Nigeria, you wonder why people in the political system of Nigeria have not been tapping into the enormous potential of this Nigeria woman.Stella is the President/ CEO of African Recycling & Enviromental Preservation Ltd (AREP)
Yes, she lives well and fly in the comfort of her private jet but Stella has a clear vision- to make life better for her fatherland. She told gistmaster.com recently in Lagos that she is very passionate about her 'waste to energy project'.
She noted that Nigeria cannot make good economic progress without solving the issue of electricity. A lot of people have made different suggestions but Mrs Atiba, who is married to a medical Doctor in the US, looked at it from the health perspective. In my company, we can help Nigeria carry out the task of solving the problem of electricity and make the environment 100 per cent clean too.
"Nigeria has an oversupply of waste, we can recycle this waste to generate electricity. People can have electricity and their environment is also clean at the same time" Atiba said
A mother of three, Atiba told gistmaster that AREP is in Nigeria to contribute heavily to the growth of the country.
STELLA ATIBA-HOW IT ALL STARTED
In the aftermath of many catastrophic natural disasters, I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a volunteer caregiver with the American Red Cross. I saw firsthand the complete disintegration of a working society’s refuge and tools of industry into rubble! A mind numbing sea of debris, as far as the eyes can see! In the heady days that followed, I witnessed souls from every corner of the Earth join hands in a bold bid to reclaim the future.
It was in this tumultuous chaos of stench, smoke, death, darkness, and failed infrastructure, that my thoughts returned to the land of my birth. The desire to contribute and join the vanguard of those who would “turn on the light” and let the ingenuity of our People rise to its destined position in the comity of Nations was stirred up.
With my diverse background as a Registered Nurse (Nigeria, USA, Canada), Registered Midwife (Nigeria), Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Public Administration (USA), and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree (law degree, USA), I had many options. I returned to my home in California and made plans to visit Nigeria to ascertain what I could do to contribute. The journey through Europe was not much different from the United States except in relative scale. The basic systems functioned, and the standard of living was comparable. I continued homebound as all the nostalgic feelings of seeing family and friends swelled. Alighting from the plane, I was comforted by the soothing heat, familiar languages, and color of my people.
As I approached the customs area, the odor of an unsanitary restroom facility hit my senses. Nonplussed, I completed my immigration requirements and was soon enveloped into the waiting arms of my relatives. The drive from the airport to Surulere in Lagos and Maitama in Abuja imprinted on my mind a vision, an idea, of how I could contribute. Some glaring environmental concerns like the collage of polluting smells, heavy smoke in the air, stagnant waters from clogged drainage close to dwellings, and mountains of garbage were persistent on the drive home.
After a couple weeks of visiting with relatives in others states, I adapted to the nuisance of generator noise, home security measures, and pervasive darkness in the streets, except for traders plying their wares by kerosene lantern or candlelight.
My visit soon ended without any firm idea of how to contribute. However, as a health care professional, the environmental condition and its public health implication remained on my mind, and the problem was nation wide. Upon my return to California, I discussed my visit and experiences at length with my husband who is also a medical professional, and reaffirmed my desire to contribute, especially in the area of environmental care.
He shared with me, the news account of a Chinese businesswoman, who helped her country by recycling waste. Needless to say, in the succeeding weeks that followed my vision of how to contribute zeroed in on cleaning up our neighborhoods but taking it a step further to sort the waste for recyclables, and convert the rest into electricity. To gain better insight into this global environmental problem and learn about the cutting edge solutions available, I attended research conferences on waste management and renewable energy, and visited municipalities who already employ the technology.
The information was eye opening! My initial concern for the capital investment required for the project was eased by a developing and strategic methodology whereby the plant can be scaled up or down, to meet the electricity needs of a pre-determined area and its refuge ancillaries such as businesses, subdivisions, hospitals, restaurants, schools, and the like. Carbon footprint research shows smaller localized plants are more efficient, easier to finance, operate, transmit, and manage. AREP was born!
- To encourage the sustainable recovery of materials and energy from waste
- To minimize the environmental impact and flow of waste to disposal facilities
- To provide a feasible and cost effective alternative to waste handling process
- To control pollution from landfill methane gas, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide
- To conserve natural resources by reducing fossil fuel consumption and landfills
- To protect and preserve a clean environment by controlling solid waste disposal
- To promote public health and improve living standards
- Reliable and sustainable source of, clean alternative energy.
- A safe and effective solution to the current challenges in waste management.
- Less reliance on long distance transportation of trash across town to landfills.
- Prevent the loss of electricity that occurs in transmission lines during long distance transmission.
- Preserve valuable land and resource with minimal impact on the environment.
AREP provides electricity to communities by converting their waste to electrical energy through an environmentally sound process. We also maintain an efficient and effective waste recovery program that promotes a healthy economy and environment. AREP converts non-recyclable waste into a reliable source of clean and affordable energy providing on-site renewable electricity.
We provide a sustainable, affordable, efficient, clean and reliable alternative energy by processing, recycling, and converting waste into electricity at the source. We assist the communities in establishing their independent source of power by utilizing their own waste to generate electricity.
We embrace the principle of decentralization, sometimes referred to as the “proximity principle” whereby waste is converted to energy and used close to its source. This stand alone, on-site renewable energy system cuts the costs and environmental effects of waste hauling, eliminates capital and operating costs of transfer stations, and reduces the emission of greenhouse gas (GHG). It also eliminates power distribution cost and line loss of electricity during long distance transmission.
In designing our pilot scheme, AREP, in conjunction with our technical partners, have added a purpose driven goal to the equation. We are proposing a results oriented, clean, and cost-effective solution to Communities, Corporations, and Governments, while demonstrating the efficacy of our scheme in rehabilitating and preserving the environment.
Power supply is the key to all economic activity. Modern society runs on energy. To have a power supply be steadily and readily available on-site at reasonable costs appeals to every smart enterprise - as it demonstrates independence and innovative solutions at work. The chronic shortage of available generating capacity in Nigeria has negatively affected the industrial and manufacturing sectors as well as individual households. Localizing the production and transmission of power will eliminate the problem of a total blackout of a geographical area during power failure and limit the problem to individual plants.
In our current economic, political and more importantly environmental sectors, there’s an urgency to implement a practical and sensible solutions to the energy crisis; AREP has positioned itself to address not just the singular pressing problem of electricity, but also to be able to significantly contribute to the stabilization of all three sectors. Our project is targeted at stimulating economic growth, employment creation, poverty reduction, and improving the overall quality of life.
The blessing of our current challenges is in the fact that most contemporary economies are revising their philosophies to more critical scales, and seeking alternatives to the energy crises. Other nations are attacking the problem on different fronts utilizing wind and solar, and not depending solely on conventional sources like oil, gas, and hydroelectric plants because this problem cannot be solved by one approach. There’s a critical need for standalone renewable electricity systems in the big cities and also in remote areas. Integrating renewable electricity sources into the energy framework to meet the nation’s electricity needs will provide more diversity, and improve the reliability of electricity supply.
The urgency of the need for a new methodology to firmly address the perennial issue of power supply shortage and waste proliferation cannot be overemphasized! Prior and subsequent national administrations have wrestled with these problems. The difficulty is only unique in the approach selected to resolve this inadequacy. The fountain of what a government can enable in any society is conditioned upon the latency of its infrastructure. The solution to Nigeria’s electricity problem can be achieved if piecemeal or bite size solutions such as proposed by AREP is embraced.
Nigeria, in conjunction with the rest of the world, produces in excess of 2 billion tons of urban wastes a year, not included wastes associated with other forms of Industry. The monumental challenge faced by all nations continues to be how to meet the increasing disposal needs of an increasing industrial activity and population explosion. Our population is growing rapidly, which means the proportion of Nigerians without access to electricity services will increase over time unless we employ a grass root approach to solving the problem.
Landfills are bursting at the seams, and decreasing availability of new sites has given birth to research based findings that has successfully made the transition from socio-environmental science laboratories to actual practice, resulting in electricity derived from alternative sources.
AREP aims to institute a localized disposal system that promotes Collection, Sorting, Recycling, and Reuse before Conversion into electrical energy in the order listed. The net effect is a zero waste goal, making the need for landfills redundant. In nations where this methodology has been fully embraced, old landfills are being reclaimed to provide land for more housing in urban areas.
We aim to partner with utility companies, waste disposal agency, government, health departments, media, and the private sectors, and we appeal for the opportunity to pilot and implement our project, and pave the way for local access to clean and affordable energy. Our project is clean energy derived from waste, with waste serving as the fuel for the plant; its supply is reliable and abundant.
Our challenge is to educate the public to alter the pervasive cultural perception of waste handling by our people, toward a common goal of promoting individual and community responsibility for a more health conscious environment.
In recent times, the often-stated rationale for the flight of industry to neighboring countries is the insecurity posed by our country’s inability to effectively project and meet the burgeoning demand for electric supply. The Nigeria government has sponsored detailed studies on renewable electricity guide lines and set up rural electrification boards to fund alternative sources of power, to augment the assessed shortfall of existing power supply and distribution.
Our hardworking citizens have been forced to cope tirelessly and ingeniously with this problem, often with a coterie of collateral disadvantages inherent in the built-in coping schemes. Air and noise pollution from generators contribute their quota to the environmental disaster looming - - from landfills and diesel fumes, to stagnant contaminated water table. AREP aims to contribute toward eliminating these disadvantages.
The creation of stand alone, on-site renewable electricity systems will create localized mutually sustainable jobs in communities our project serves. It will empower the residents, provide more viable alternative to crime, while improving the quality of life, consistent power supply, and a clean/healthy environment.
HEALTH & ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS
From an environmental health perspective, the Health and Environment benefits of AREP’s waste to energy project cannot be overstated. Conventional power generating sources and some renewable energy technology such as wind and solar fail to address waste proliferation and its effect on health and the environment. AREP endeavors to focus on these issues, while providing much needed electricity to the community.
The typical image seen in infomercial advertisement used by most western charities in sourcing contributions is that of the distended bellied African child foraging in landfills for food and other articles for barter. The narrator often points to the many hazards inherent in the wastes deposited into these landfills. The runoff from landfills after heavy rains is a genuine cause for worry as numerous species of vectors also thrive in such grounds.
Water table contamination is a prevalent occurrence when seepage from landfills breaches their containment. The resulting health issues range from birth defects to loss of life from well water poisoning. Methane gas around landfills constitute a clear and present danger lurking for the right mix that could explode and endanger an area teaming with masses of urban population. Furthermore, the city gutters are clogged with plastic wastes, which stagnate the water, and provides a fertile breathing ground for malaria causing mosquitoes and other diseases.
AREP’S proposed scheme seeks to eliminate these blights. In a cost benefit analysis of healthcare, prevention is often preferred than the costs of epidemics outbreaks due to health and environmental mismanagement.
AREP’s technical partners employ a proprietary system that achieves complete destruction of a wide range of solid, semi-solid, and liquid feedstock, including municipal solid waste, industrial waste, agricultural waste, oil and gas waste, medical waste, sewage and sludge, chemical waste, rubber/tires, bio-hazardous and other hazardous wastes, construction and demolition waste etc, with up to 97% reduction in volume. The system is technically and environmentally superior, cost-effective, and self-sustaining.
The proven technology turns trash into energy in two stages that produces low air emission and prevents pollution. It begins with an automated process to remove recyclable wastes and materials that would release toxic pollutants if burned, such as polyvinyl chloride or PVC (Plastics). The remaining waste is slowly moved through a closed chamber where high heat breaks it down to generate electricity.
The technology also provides functionally independent modular components that reduce down time such that maintenance and repair on one does not affect operation of others. The modular design cuts initial and life-cycle capital costs because plants are scalable, and modules can be added or taken off line, and relocated to other areas as needed. The modular design also allows for cost-effective waste processing and renewable energy generation even at small capacities. The process is automated with manual override; which enables digital supervision and control of system. It provides for real-time remote monitoring, and technical support for our local plant operators and management by a team of international experts. This ongoing support and service factor was critical by design, in our choice of a technical partner. In our assessment of best service practices to offer, maintenance is of extreme importance to counter a chronic culture of poor equipment maintenance. The continuous technical oversight will be crucial to our success.