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EU investing millions to support east and southern Africa’s transition to a circular economy

EU investing millions to support east and southern Africa’s transition to a circular economy

The European Commission wants to make circularity the new ‘megatrend’ by boosting the circular economy worldwide, starting in Africa.

The European Union (EU) has announced two multimillion-euro investments in the circular economy that will see the establishment of a resource centre to share information between EU and partner countries as well as a programme to increase circularity in key value chains in east and southern Africa. 

The announcement was made on Wednesday, 17 April, during the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF), in Brussels, Belgium, which is being attended both in person and online by more than 10,000 delegates.

The EU is investing €40-million (R810-million) over the next five years into an initiative dubbed the Switch to Circular Economy in East and Southern Africa (Switch-2-CE in ESA), which will promote the regions’ transition to the circular economy. 

In addition, it is investing €15-million (R304-million) to set up the Circular Economy Resource Centre, which is expected to be operational by the end of this year. It will facilitate learning and exchanges between the EU and third-party countries to promote circular economy policies and business models. The centre is the product of a partnership between the European Commission, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra – which organises the WCEF – the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Belgian development agency Enabel.

The Switch initiative is geared towards strengthening capacity and improving financial accessibility, particularly within the packaging, plastic waste, electronics and e-waste industries.

Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for international partnerships, said she believed it was possible to make circularity the “next megatrend”. 

“No one can predict the future, but that does not stop us from impacting it. It is possible to make circularity the next megatrend. The vision behind the Circular Economy Resource Centre is to share policy and business know-how and best practices with partner countries. This is also in line with the ambitions of the Switch … programme, a great initiative increasing circularity in key value chains, and I am glad we can now deploy it in these regions in Africa.”

Switch will also help to provide access to finance through a matching grant facility for young start-ups and SMEs.

Between 2021 and 2023, the EU committed about €1.6-billion to the circular economy transition at country, regional and global level. Last year, more than 100 partner countries benefited from EU support to promote a circular transition of their economies. DM

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