Adoption of circular economy practices will go a long way in delivering economic growth, jobs and positive environmental outcomes needed for Africa, experts said yesterday.
A circular economy is a reformative system in which resource input and waste, emission, and energy leakage are minimised.
This, according to science, can be achieved through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, and recycling.
According to Kathryn Toure, Regional Director for Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC) for sub Saharan Africa, circular economy is a concept of reduce, reuse, recycle, remanufacture, repair and continually renew.
At a panel discussion moderated by Toure, at the ongoing Next Einstein Forum in Kigali, experts reiterated need for African economy to build industrial synergy that facilitates efficient resource use.
The panel explored Africa’s low carbon circular economy.
“Circular economy is not only about job and economic growth, it's also about our environment and our health," said Ana Therese Ndong-Jatta, Regional Director of the UNESCO Eastern Africa.
Rocio Diaz-Chavez, Deputy Director of the Stockholm Environment Institute Africa Centre noted that there are many assessment tools, such as life cycle analysis, which can support Africa's wide scale transition to the circular economy, which should be utilised more.
The Minister for Environment Vincent Biruta mentioned that Rwanda is at the forefront of fostering circular economy in the region and beyond.
Rwanda, South Africa, and Nigeria -along with the World Economic Forum are the pioneers of the African Circular Economy Alliance, which was launched on the sideline of Climate Change conference (COP23) in Bonn last year.
"In order to make effective use of the circular economy, there is a need to build connections between industries to close the production loop. This industrial symbiosis will be key for efficient resource use," Biruta reiterated.
"Rwanda is working with South Africa, Nigeria, the United Nations Environment Programme and World Economic Forum to develop a continent wide alliance that will spur Africa’s transformation to a circular economy which delivers economic growth, jobs and positive environmental outcomes," Biruta added.
At the national level, Biruta also noted that Rwanda is “very positive” about the prospects of the circular economy, not only to address environmental issues, but to foster economic growth and job creation.
Coletha Ruhamya, Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) called on stakeholders to invest in Africa's scientists and engineers to conduct research for Africa and in Africa if the advancement of the circular economy is to bear sustainable fruits.