Dr. Oludayo Dada (Ph.D.)

Dr. Oludayo Olusegun Dada has over 34 years of professional experience spanning various gamuts of environmental protection; some of which are environmental policy analysis, environmental pollution control, environmental impact assessment, environmental agreement negotiations, and resource mobilization. He led Nigerian and African delegations to several multilateral environmental workshops, negotiations, and conferences around the world.

He has also chaired many global and regional technical committees and actively participated in the preparation of several international, regional, and national technical documents on environmental issues. He served as Advisor and Consultant to International and Regional Organizations like UNEP, UNIDO, African Union Commission, and Africa Institute.
Currently, Dr. Dada is CEO of Newport Technologies Ltd/Abuja, Nigeria. A company that specializes in project conceptualization, design, planning, and management in infrastructural development and environmental matters.

Dr. Wondwossen Sintayehu (Ph.D.)

Wondwossen Sintayehu, is an environmental lawyer involved in a number of climate change, biodiversity, and chemicals management in Ethiopia and beyond. He was instrumental in coordinating the development of Ethiopia’s Climate Change Strategy, and the recent update to it known as Ethiopia’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Currently, he is the Technical Coordinator for SouthSouthNorth, a Cape Town-based not-for-profit organization, overseeing a number of projects on climate policy, low carbon transport, Recalculation of Ethiopia’s Grid Emission Factor to enable the country to make use of Article 6 projects.
Wondwossen served as Director of Environmental Law and Policy at the Federal Environmental Protection Authority, with the responsibility, among others, of overseeing the development of laws, strategies, and policies on a range of environmental subjects including climate change and carbon markets.
He has represented the country in climate change negotiations and has served as Africa’s negotiator for the Minamata Convention and the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).
Wondwossen currently serves as Policy Advisor to the African Group of Negotiators relating to the ongoing chemicals and waste negotiations under the auspices of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions and is currently finalizing his Ph.D. in Global Governance and Human Security from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

A collective shift towards African green economy initiatives

As climate change and rising energy demands destabilize communities, governments around the world are pursuing policies to support the transition to green economies. Across sub-Saharan Africa, from South Africa to Nigeria, ministries are implementing short to medium terms plans to ensure future stability and prosperity in a changing climate and uncertain energy future.

The green economic transition also presents a unique opportunity for new, clean energy and technology industries. A critical component of the clean energy-based economy is the transition to energy-efficient LED lighting technologies. As African governments develop national plans to accelerate access to clean energy and mitigate the effects of climate change, local manufacturing of LEDs could stimulate local economic growth, generate jobs, and safeguard consumers from inefficient, toxic lighting products.

Governments across Africa are rejecting toxic fluorescent lighting and leading the global transition to energy-efficient, mercury-free lighting products. In May, representatives from Africa proposed an amendment to the Minamata Convention on Mercury to eliminate special exemptions for mercury in lighting. If adopted, the amendment would safeguard public health, ease the energy burden on increasingly strained national grids, and stimulate local economic growth.

Phasing-Out Mercury in Lighting

A decade ago, fluorescent lights were viewed as an energy-efficient alternative to less-efficient incandescent and halogen lights, and risks associated with mercury in each bulb were tolerated as a necessary trade-off for the efficiency benefits. Today, thanks to major advances in light-emitting diode (LED) technology, LED lights are a cost-effective, safe alternative that can replace fluorescents in virtually all applications.

“The technological advancements in lighting over the past decade have far surpassed even the most advanced mercury-containing fluorescent bulbs,” explains Shuji Nakamura, Nobel Prize for Physics (2014) and Inventor of the blue light LED.

“My work on blue LEDs enabled innovative bright and energy-saving lighting products to reach markets across the globe. With the proposed amendment to the Minamata Convention and implementation of national-level regulations to phase-out fluorescent lighting by 2025, countries can accelerate the transition to LED lighting technology to benefit people and the planet.”
As governments in wealthier countries like the European Union and the United States phase out mercury lighting products, unregulated and under-regulated markets, primarily in Africa, are at risk of becoming dumping grounds for low-quality, inefficient fluorescent lighting products. Without government action, African consumers will be left with dangerous, energy-intensive lighting options.

Proper disposal of end-of-life mercury bulbs remains the main concern in African countries. A recent report found that the collected and properly recycled e-waste (not just lighting products) was at 4% in Southern Africa, 1.3% in Eastern Africa, and close to 0% in other regions. Most bulbs are disposed of with general waste, where due to their fragility, the bulbs easily break and disperse mercury vapor into the environment. Mercury released from broken bulbs can travel hundreds of kilometers, then are deposited into land or water sources—contaminating vulnerable communities along the way. The mercury may then be converted into a bio-available methylated form, which then enters the food chain.

LEDs remove the unnecessary risk of exposure to toxic mercury vapors for people and workers when light bulbs break in homes, offices, schools, and businesses. They also reduce the amount of mercury contamination at landfills and waste sites by cutting the risk of hazardous waste at the source.

LEDs Present a Business Opportunity in Africa

The transition to clean LED lighting is possible in the short term in Africa because all countries are importers of fluorescent lighting. With no local production of fluorescent lighting, there will be little impact on local jobs, on the contrary, there is an opportunity for localized production.

LED lamp assembly offers an excellent opportunity for local businesses and entrepreneurs to establish new operations in the assembly and manufacturing of LED lighting products. Significant production is already taking place in East, Southern, and West Africa to supply national markets and export to neighboring countries. With synchronized lighting regulations and investment in new LED businesses across the continent, Africa can supply its growing demand for energy-efficient lighting products.

In Zambia, for example, Savenda Electrical employs approximately 30 people in the manufacturing of general service lamps, as well as street lights and off-grid solar products. The lamp assembly is taking place in an industrial park outside of Lusaka.
In Rwanda, Sahasra Group invested $3 million in a state-of-the-art LED manufacturing facility in Kigali Prime Economic Zone.

The Rwanda Development Board called the business a ‘strategic investment,’ as Sahasra aims to support Rwanda in transforming its energy landscape by creating jobs, accelerating the transition to energy-efficient lighting, and enabling the lighting market to become self-sufficient. Local manufacturing also allows import substitution, generates exports, and gives impetus to locally made and sourced African products.

Global Efforts to Eliminate Mercury in Lighting

Earlier this year, 36 African countries proposed an amendment to phase out the most common types of fluorescent lighting under the Minamata Convention. If adopted at the upcoming Convention of Parties (COP4), the amendment would lead to a global phase-out of most fluorescent lighting products by 2025, resulting in massive cost savings, reductions in mercury pollution, and cuts in global electricity consumption by up to 3 percent.

Accelerating the transition to LEDs in Africa also presents an opportunity to alleviate the energy burden on increasingly strained national grids. Rolling blackouts and energy shortages have come to characterize electrification across Africa. Because leading LED technologies to consume about half as much energy as mercury-laden fluorescent alternatives, transitioning markets to LED would reduce energy costs from the household to the country level.

In contrast, governments who drag their feet on this issue will experience significant economic losses. In the EU, an estimated €5.5 billion is lost each year the European Commission fails to act on a mercury-based lighting ban.

What are the Next Steps?

By leading this global transition, African governments are signaling that it is time to stop using the continent as a dumping ground for the world’s hazardous fluorescent lighting products. LED lighting technologies will only become more energy-efficient over the following decades, but policy measures must support technology advances. A wave of policy action, starting with the proposed amendment, and supported by Minimum Energy Performance standards (MEPs) in the lighting sector, will stimulate local LED industry growth and respond to consumer demand for higher-quality products.