The Theory of Change

10+ yrs 

Improved knowledge of & demand

for CE activities, pan Africa

5+ yrs 

Improved policy & business ecosystem for initiating & implementing CE activities in member countries 

1+ yrs 

Comprehensive view of CE

readiness & way forward for

member countries  

About ACEA

The African Circular Economy Alliance was conceived in 2016 during the World Economic Forum with the mindset of developing Africa’s circular economy ecosystem while capitalizing on its development opportunities.


ACEA is a government-led coalition of African nations with a mission to spur Africa's transformation to a circular economy that delivers economic growth, jobs, and positive environmental outcomes.


The Alliance serves as a platform that supports the transition to a circular economy at the national, regional, and continental levels through:

  • policy development

  • leadership and advocacy

  • support in scaling CE businesses and projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What prompted the establishment of the African Circular Economy Alliance?

The African Circular Economy Alliance (“ACEA” or “The Alliance”) was conceived with the mindset of developing Africa’s circular economy ecosystem while capitalizing on its development opportunities. African countries can leverage circular solutions to effectively tackle several multifaceted issues such as poverty, poor infrastructure, and unemployment, among other factors that have hindered economic growth. These issues have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, as most countries on the continent do not have the necessary buffers to withstand the shocks it induced. African countries can also leverage circular solutions to attain various climate action obligations, such as the Paris Agreement, and sustainable development goals/targets.

What problems were you seeing with the usual linear economic model?

The linear model considers the mass production of goods at the expense of growing environmental concerns related to the extraction of nonrenewable resources and emissions of greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. Production is mostly resource-intensive generating a large quantity of waste and pollution. For example, Nigeria's oil and gas industry is one of the top 10 greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters in the world, mainly through gas flaring. [1]

With the linear model, waste is not valuable hence left to mount on landfills, and we are slowly running out of space to dispose of it. Some African cities such as Johannesburg in South Africa generate 4000 tonnes of waste daily and will run out of landfills in the next four and half years [2]

[1] AfDB, Fossil fuel extraction in Africa, 2018

[2] SABC, Renewed appeal for recycling as Joburg landfill sites run out of space, 2020

What benefits are there to a circular economic model (environmental/economic)?

Economic: Circular economy can create jobs, increase the availability and circulation of resources, save money, and contribute to the GDP of a country. For example, in 2019, plastic recycling directly contributed to South Africa's GDP of 2.3% and 18.5% to the Manufacturing GDP in 2019. [3] In 2018, the sector also created almost 58,500 income opportunities for South Africans. In a continent with a high unemployment rate, the circular economy presents a unique and significant opportunity to create jobs. [4]

Environmental conservation: The circular economy will reduce carbon emissions, restore biological ecosystems, and generally mitigate climate change. Linear activities cause severe negative impacts, which can be directly on the environment and associated via health implications as a result of air pollution, heavy metals, and pollutants in water streams

[3] SAPRO, About Us,n.d.

[4] Plastic SA, Growth in South African Plastics Recycling Sector, 2019

Do you think governments and companies that adopt circular economies will have an economic advantage?



Recycling and other circular business models positively impact a country's GDP, create jobs (necessary for African countries given their young and growing population), protect the environment and biodiversity, mitigate climate change, and generally improve livelihoods.


Circular models increase efficiency and cut costs, which leads to an increase in the bottom lines. 40%-60% of the production process costs come from raw materials due to high importation costs or obtaining scarce resources, e.g., fossil fuels. [5] Hence, companies focusing on the circular economy could reduce the cost to obtain raw materials and are usually quick to spot and close waste leakages throughout their production and supply chains, thus, cutting on costs.

Circular economy models are flexible and increasingly technology-driven, which makes them resilient to the changing marketplace. There is a gradual change in consumer and government perspective due to the increasing awareness of the linear economy's environmental impact, and even more so in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hence, there will be changes in policies and consumer choices. The typical example is the ban on plastic bags that drove several businesses out of the market

[1] Living Circular, The circular economy creates value for businesses, 2017

What types of organizations/institutions can join the Alliance as Strategic Partners?

  • Private sector organisations: Private sector organisations seeking to embed circular economic principles into their operations, infrastructure and culture
  • Institutional organisations: Foundations, multilaterals and NGOs working at a global scale to address system-level challenges across the circular economy

  • Knowledge partners: Organisations providing a platform for research, policy guidance, best practices, and data sharing necessary to support the CE

  • Non-regional country members: Countries outside of the African continent working with a specific regional government or partner to achieve CE objectives

How does a country join the Alliance?

1. New request: New members can be invited to join the Alliance by either the Co-Chairs, Technical Committee, or Secretariat. Joining requests should be submitted to the Secretariat who will conduct an initial screening before making a recommendation to the Technical Committee 2. Assesment: The secretariat will inform the Technical Committee of all requests for approval.Upon notification, they will have 7 days to make an objection, if any. 3. Approval: If no objections, the new member is approved to be part of the AllianceMembership will be confirmed upon signing of the digital charter

What types of entities are members of the Alliance?

The Alliance includes member countries from the continent (through their ministries of environment) as well as non-government strategic partners of various types.

Membership of ACEA


New members

Founding members

In 2017 The ACEA was launched with three member countries: Rwanda, South Africa and Nigeria.


In 2019, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire joined the Alliance. In 2021 Benin, Burkina Faso, and Sudan also became members.

burkina faso.png

Secretariat hosted by:

"We believe that the circular economy presents Africa with the opportunity to grow and use its natural resources efficiently while remaining low in emissions. Centralized platforms like the African Circular Economy Alliance will build the momentum for circular economy engagement and foster continental and regional partnerships."

Dr. Anthony Nyong,

Director of Climate Change and Green Growth,