Economic development MIR sector in Rubavu, Musanze and Rwamagana

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Rwanda’s potential to lead the Circular Economy transition in Africa

  • Rwanda’s potential to lead the Circular Economy transition in Africa
  • Rwanda’s potential to lead the Circular Economy transition in Africa
  • Rwanda’s potential to lead the Circular Economy transition in Africa

Many African countries, including Rwanda, face a growing waste management challenge due to economic growth, increasing population and rising urbanisation. According to Rwanda National circular economy - Action plan and roadmap by the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and UNDP, in Rwanda, solid waste generation is expected to rise by 14% increase between 2020 and 2035.
Efforts, especially related to plastics, have brought great success and resulted in Rwanda having the reputation of being the cleanest African country. While the waste sector is an important sector to enable the circular economy, besides solving pressing waste challenges, the concept also provides various opportunities to transform other economically relevant sectors while generating jobs, offering a more sustainable and interdependent economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  

Rwanda is one of the African countries that is relatively advanced on its circular economy journey. For over a decade, it has taken a proactive approach and put environment and climate change at the heart of all the country’s policies, programmes and plans as seen by its Vision 2020 initiative which aimed to integrate green growth and climate resilience strategies. Rwanda had a pioneering role in the co-founding of the African Circular Economy Alliance first launched at the World Economic Forum in Kigali in 2016. It also has a track record of being a test location for trialing innovative approaches before launching in other parts of Africa, as demonstrated by drone and smart city initiatives.  

From 8-10 March 2023, Enabel’s Urban Economic Development initiative (UEDI) and the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment (MOE), VITO&OVO and other partners organized a 3-day boost camp to train and coach 10 selected local construction companies on circular economy approaches in construction sector in Rwanda under incubation. It was also an occasion for students from universities to share experiences among themselves and fetch relevant skills from the coaches.  

Robin Thiers 1st secretary in development embassy Belgium said 'Rwanda Population in cities is increasing with high construction boom in urban area. We are proud to work with Rwandan government to promote urban planning and sustainable organization as one of the main pillars of Belgian Cooperation'.
‘The project is about much more than circularity alone' said Dirk Deprez, Resident Representative of Enabel in Rwanda. 'With this, we want to contribute to Rwanda's urbanisation ambitions and the creation of jobs in a green and circular economy' he noted.

'Applying circular principles to buildings means looking at the full life cycle of a building, including its design, construction and deconstruction and the materials used. Promoting circularity in construction offers many opportunities including increasing employment, reducing transportations costs and emissions, thus reducing pressure on our natural resources' stated Christian TWAHIRWA, Head of Knowledge Management and Operational Monitoring at NIRDA.

Participants to the boost camp affirm they expected much from the programme: 'We were very keen to participate in this circular economy project, this will allow us to further expand our network and we can also get more access to finance.' said Eric Nshimiyimana, RCGF Managing Director.  
“Our activities are environmentally friendly we use only wood cuttings, maize leftover no single tree used to burn bricks. Carbon emission reduces from 90-98%, the broken bricks are then recycled to make roofing” said Immaculée MUKAMUSONI Managing Director, Kigali Bricks ltd.  

As part of wider initiatives by Enabel, VITO has lots of experiences in projects around circular economy and specifically around circular construction. VITO and OVO delegation aimed at ensuring exchange learning of entrepreneurs between Belgium and Rwanda, to establish guidelines to promote circularity.  

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