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Technology Can Help Move Africa towards a Circular Economy

Put simply: the traditional linear “take, make, and dispose” production model is no longer viable. By moving towards a circular economy, Africa may be able to leapfrog to more a sustainable development approach by learning lessons and avoiding pitfalls of resource-intensive practices of the linear economy. There are many examples on the continent where this is common, for example Olusosun, Lagos, Nigeria and Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana. Yet, informal waste reclaimers could be one route for circular practices to develop in countries which have been unable to implement recycling of plastics and electronic waste at scale. In a circular economy, businesses aim to ensure that every process is as efficient as possible. Our strategy is to build a circular economy that involves; repair, reuse and recycle. The process of building a circular economy is also made easier by the creation of new industrial technologies such as 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT). When manufacturers use 3D printing technology, for instance, they can reuse up to 80% of the surplus printer powder from any job. This cuts waste and resource usage. Using IoT technology to engage in predictive maintenance reduces breakdowns and cuts waste, of energy and materials, by up to 20%.