Remarks by Minister Vincent Biruta at African Circular Economy Alliance Event

Good morning!

It’s fantastic to see you for Day Three of the Africa Green Growth Forum. Thank you for once again joining us and I hope you are connecting with friends new and old.

Of the friends who have come to Kigali, there is one who is missing: the late South African Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa. Edna was a passionate champion for our environment as well as the circular economy – serving as a co-chair of the African Circular Economy Alliance. We were very sad to hear of her passing, and our thoughts remain with her family, friends and colleagues represented here today and those back home.

I kindly ask that we pay our respects to the late Minister by observing a moment of silence.

Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The quality of the conversations and the commitment to action that we heard during yesterday’s Investment Forum signals that there is enough political and personal will to embrace green growth. This is an important foundation that will enable the transition to a new way of doing business.

One of the tools at our disposal is a model of economic development known as the circular economy. In a circular economy, all resources are re-used by having long lasting products, repairing and sharing products, or by recycling materials. A truly zero waste society.

Building a circular economy not only addresses environmental issues, but also fosters economic growth and job creation.

The Circular Economy is not a new concept in Africa. It’s common practice across the continent – whether fixing electronics or extending the life of products through maintenance and repair, Africa is already a circular economy leader.

One example is the laptops being used here at the Forum, which have been repaired and refurbished by Enviroserve which manages our e-waste facility.

In Rwanda, the circular economy has been around for a long time out of necessity as a practice. The sharing of household products or tools and extending the life of products like shoes, clothes, or even car sharing and hiring ceremonial clothes for weddings are just a few examples.

The challenge Africa now faces is to put in place the legal and policy frameworks to support these efforts and ensure current and future industries operate under the principles of the circular economy.

In Rwanda, we recently updated our Environment Law and Environment and Climate Change Policy to incorporate the circular economy. We are also in the process of revising the Plastics Law, which will ban single use plastics and encourage more recycling.

Put simply, as the continent grows and develops, we need to avoid the take, make, waste approach and realise the opportunities that lie in the circular economy. The African Circular Economy Alliance is a response to these opportunities.

Launched at last year’s COP23 in Bonn, the Alliance is currently co-chaired by Nigeria, South Africa, UN Environment and Rwanda with support from the World Economic Forum and the Global Environment Facility.

The Alliance aims to fast-track the uptake of the circular economy across the continent through the sharing of experience and the facilitation of new partnerships between public and private institutions.

A today’s event, you will learn more about the circular economy, the objectives of the alliance, and how representatives of governments can join us.

I wish to thank the teams here from South Africa, UN Environment and the Global Environment Facility for their efforts to advance the Alliance and I hope you will leave this room convinced that the circular economy has an important role to play in Africa’s green growth journey.

Thank you for your kind attention.