Nordic, Dutch, and African hubs join forces for a circular economy

December 12, 2022

The African Circular Economy Network (ACEN), the Nordic Circular Hotspot (NCH) and the Foundation Holland Circular Hotspot (HCH) have entered a partnership to accelerate the transition towards a circular economy on the African continent.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, in Kigali, Rwanda, during a side event of the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF). The WCEF 2022 brings forward-looking thinkers and doers together, showcasing circular economy trailblazers for the first time in Africa.

Picture: Freek van Eijk, Director Holland Circular Hotspot and Chris Whyte, African Circular Economy Network (ACEN)
Photo credits: Faustin Nkurunziza


“The Netherlands and the Nordic countries are global leaders in the circular economy. The Hotspot’s knowledge and expertise will be invaluable in the transition to a circular economy on the African continent. Furthermore, the knowledge and experience will be essential for the coming period when the African continent will face growing climate, environmental, resource and employment challenges"

Peter Desmond, co-founder of ACEN

Together for the African circular transition

Under the agreement, NCH and HCH will share their experience, knowledge, and expertise with ACEN with the aim of accelerating bilateral cooperation in the circular economy. ACEN will further promote dialogue and collaboration among African universities, businesses, and governments to move the continent towards a circular economy.

Our foundation aims not only to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in the Nordic countries but also abroad. That is why we are excited to engage with ACEN to fast-track this movement in Africa,” said NCH Managing Partners Cathrine Barth and Einar Kleppe Holthe. “If Africa has no circular future, we have no circular future”.

Photo: Cathrine Barth,  Natural State, Strategist and business developer at Nordic Circular Hotspot, Einar K Holthe, Natural State, Founder & CEO, Nordic circular hotspot, and Susanne Karcher, Co-founder, African Circular Economy Network.

A circular economy is an alternative to the traditional linear economy which follows a ‘take, make, dispose’ model. The circular economy replaces this with a closed-loop system in which materials are used and reused as efficiently as possible, minimising resource use, pollution, and carbon emissions.

The European Union and a growing number of African authorities agree that a new and circular model is needed: where resources are used for as long as possible, the maximum value is extracted during use, and, at the end of their life, are recovered and regenerated into new products.

Photo: Kgauta Mokoena, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment in South Africa, Chief Director for Chemicals and Waste Policy, Monitoring and Evaluation

Against the backdrop of the WCEF, HCH’s Director Freek van Eijk added that the recent pandemic and geopolitical developments in Ukraine have given additional reasons to embrace and accelerate the transition to a circular economy. “Circular economy is not only inspirational, but it can also be our secret weapon in our fight against climate change and increase our resource resilience. We see it as the biggest business opportunity of the century.”

About African Circular Economy Network (ACEN)

The vision of the African Circular Economy Network (ACEN) is to build a restorative African economy that generates well-being and prosperity, inclusive of all its people, through new forms of economic production and consumption which maintain and regenerate its environmental resources.

Africa has been using circular principles for generations. As new business models and technologies emerge, the opportunities for agriculture, manufacturing and waste management can be harnessed to improve livelihoods, mitigate / adapt to climate change and reduce poverty.