What does Circular Economy look like in practice in Africa? A showcase of ongoing projects and businesses

What does Circular Economy look like in practice in Africa? A showcase of ongoing projects and businesses

This session will highlight circular economy business models across Africa and discuss how they can be replicated and/ or improved in other regions.

This session will share insights from a recent circular economy report we published showcasing initiatives across Africa. The session will highlight a few business models which will be backed with stories from some entrepreneurs featured in the report. In break-out rooms, participants will have the opportunity to compare the highlighted business models to initiatives from their own context. We will discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and possible areas of improvement for these business models.


Host: Footprints Africa Limited

Accra, Ghana

Deborah Nartey

Deborah is passionate about the use of research in identifying palpable examples of existing knowledge and divulging solutions to current challenges. At Footprints, she undertakes research on global best practice in circular economy and how these can be applied in the local context. Outside of Footprints, she runs an NGO that seeks to empower children and youth in Ghanaian communities through education.

Joanna Bingham

Joanna developed a passion for the role of business in reducing poverty and contributing to environmental restoration whilst an investment analyst. On secondment to the Wood Foundation in Tanzania, which worked to fundamentally transform an entire value chain, she worked with all participants from regulators to private sector to smallholder farmers in the tea sector. Her interest in system level change led to a Post-Grad diploma on Innovation and the Circular Economy, highlighting the need to understand the systems in which social problems exist and rethinking traditional assumptions about how change occurs. Footprints was born from these experiences with the intention of ensuring that economic development is inclusive and leads to more resilient local economies.

This session, hosted by Footprints Africa, showcased business initiatives of the Circular Economy in practice on the African continent. The Circular Economy concept was defined and explained that this concept is not new to the African continent. The session asked provoking questions of the participants by using case studies and then having participants go into breakout rooms to brainstorm ideas and solutions to the questions posed. Footprints Africa is aiming to collect 500 case studies from the African context on the Circular Economy and is working with partners such as the Circular Economy Network and Circle Economy to demonstrate the impact of circular economy projects across Africa. 


An inspiring example that was showcased was the project GreenAble – a South African e-waste company that collects and disassembles end-of-life printer cartridges to extract valuable materials such as plastics and metal which are processed and sold to manufacturers for recycling. This initiative demonstrates how waste can be used as a resource and also shows how collaboration can be leveraged to create joint value. Another project in Tanzania called Maji Jibu equips Tanzanian entrepreneurs to manufacture and create affordable access to water and in the process keeping durable plastic in circulation. This microfranchise initiative stretches the product lifetime of materials and thereby reduces the overall environmental impact.


The session closed with key reflections on mainstreaming Circular Economy thinking into economic development in Africa.