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Circular Economy on the African Continent: Perspectives and Potential

18 Oct 2021

Across the globe, there is a growing interest in Circular Economy (CE), with stakeholders sharing successful experiences and discussing the enabling environment for CE business opportunities. However, until recently, there has been little to no mention of cases from the African continent, even though many CE principles are deeply embedded in African traditional production and consumption practices.


Africa is one of the most “ready-for-circularity” continents. This is reflected in the proliferation of CE initiatives and successful examples of CE applications across the continent as well as the great interest in learning from the successes. The diversity of examples underlines the fact that CE is intuitive to Africans and consistent with African cultures and environmental and livelihood objectives.


In collaboration with the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN) and with support from ICLEI Africa, Footprints Africa and GRID-Arendal have been mapping these examples from across the continent, aiming to provide a comprehensive database of 500 initiatives by the end of 2021. The developed, ever-growing database and interactive map of existing initiatives are used in workshops and skills-building programs for emerging circular economy practitioners across Africa.


This culminated in the co-creation of a report titled “Circular Economy on the African Continent, Perspectives and Potential” by GRID-Arendal, ACEN, Footprints Africa and ICLEI Africa.


The report summarizes key CE concepts; examines the enabling environment (drivers, barriers and opportunities) for promoting CE initiatives in Africa; reviews African CE experiences and policies in diverse sectors; and presents conclusions and recommendations. Moreover, it aims to promote knowledge-sharing and increase visibility of the wide diversity of African CE initiatives, supporting policymakers, the private sector and a broad community of practice to create innovative business opportunities and value networks.


Across Africa, CE investments can not only lead to higher economic returns, but also represent a valuable opportunity for the conservation of the natural basis on which its economy and livelihoods depend. The stage is set for Africa to meet ambitious development and COVID-19 recovery goals, in particular by leveraging momentum and potential in its young and vibrant workforce, in waste reduction, re-using materials, repair/repurposing and technological innovation. The time for circular economy investment is now.

Status: Completed

Type: Monograph

Author: GRID-Arendal

Year of publication: 2021

Publisher: GRID-Arendal

Place of publication: GRID-Arendal

Tags: Africa circular economy

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