Circular African Cities 101: A Crash Course and Meet-and-Greet

Circular African Cities 101: A Crash Course and Meet-and-Greet

Circular Economy is growing as a concept on the continent with many groups exploring its benefits for driving sustainable production and consumption. We assert that cities are vital arenas for circular economy transitions and, with partners, over the last year have been developing a community of thinkers, doers and enablers working on circular African cities. This session will offer a 15 minute crash course on Circular African Cities for those new to the concept, hear from ICLEI Africa, the African Circular Economy Network and Metabolism of Cities on new developments in their work. The session will then offer opportunities to meet those interested in circular cities and invite reflection on how the community of practice in circular african cities could add value to you your work as urban practitioners.


L’économie circulaire se développe en tant que concept sur le continent, de nombreux groupes explorant ses avantages pour stimuler la production et la consommation durables. Nous affirmons que les villes sont des arènes vitales pour les transitions de l’économie circulaire et, avec des partenaires, nous avons développé au cours de l’année dernière une communauté de penseurs, d’acteurs et de facilitateurs travaillant sur les villes africaines circulaires. Cette session offrira un cours intensif de 15 minutes sur les villes africaines circulaires pour ceux qui découvrent le concept, écoutez ICLEI Africa, le réseau africain d’économie circulaire et le métabolisme des villes sur les nouveaux développements dans leur travail. La session offrira ensuite des opportunités de rencontrer les personnes intéressées par les villes circulaires et invitera à réfléchir sur la manière dont la communauté de pratique dans les villes africaines circulaires pourrait vous apporter une valeur ajoutée à votre travail en tant que praticiens urbains.


Host: ICLEI Africa

Session Summary

This session, hosted by Paul Currie of ICLEI Africa, introduced the concept of Circular Economy and acted as a framing session for the RISE Africa Circular Economy stream.

Paul Currie began the session by defining the Circular Economy as a system that focuses on the full lifecycle of products and materials and that aims to retain as much value as possible throughout this lifecycle.

Jokudu Guda, of ICLEI Africa, shared 7 key considerations for Circular Economy in Africa including the provision of more supportive structures for small businesses and the improved alignment of governing structures with Circular Economy principles.

Peter Desmond of the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN) emphasized the particular power of partnerships in the Circular Economy space and demonstrated the effectiveness of grounding an understanding of Circular Economy in real world examples.

Representative of the ACEN in Botswana, Yame Nkgowe shared 3 key considerations for African sustainability:

1. As Africans we need to not only understand, but own our narratives

2. We need to keep thinking about ways to build capacity and competence within our cities

3. We need to remember that having specialized knowledge and knowing how to use it are two different things.

He went on to discuss the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed issues within our economic systems, and called on Africans to “build back better” as we reimagine our post-covid world.

Paul Hoekman of The Metabolism of Cities helped participants to understand the relationship between Urban Metabolism and the Circular Economy. By demonstrating how Urban Metabolism reveals and explores the energy flows within a city he showed participants the value in connecting the two concepts, as Urban Metabolism helps to show where the Circular Economy is succeeding, and where it is falling short.