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Dutch businesses working on circular innovations in fast-growing cities in Africa

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Published on: 1 September 2020 | Changed on: 01 September 2020

Together with partners in Ghana, Morocco and Senegal, 5 Dutch businesses will develop their innovations that contribute to a circular economy in Africa. These businesses submitted their proposals for a sustainable contribution to societal challenges in the area of single use articles, building materials and litter.

OSKAM V/F, NETICS BV, Searious Business, The Waste Transformers B.V. and Plastic Whale BV started a feasibility study in 2019 and managed, despite Corona restrictions and lockdowns, to successfully finish their research. In these times good cooperation with local partners proves to be extra valuable for doing projects. With a budget of up to € 200,000 they will develop their innovations with their local partners in the next 2 years.

In the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) in Developing Markets programme, projects are selected based on the following criteria:

  • impact on the theme;
  • innovation;
  • quality of the project; and
  • economic perspective.

Also taken into consideration are:

  • co-creation and cooperation with local partners;
  • the gender approach; and
  • the involvement of women in the innovations.

The 5 circular innovations

OSKAM V/F: Cement-less, 100% locally produced building blocks for energy efficient houses

OSKAM, and its partners LEVS and TNO, are convinced that housing made of Cement-less Compressed Earth Blocks (CCEB), entirely based on local resources, is a viable and energy efficient solution to the growing housing demands in West Africa. By excluding cement and other materials produced at temperatures higher than 1000°C, and using an innovative binder developed by TNO, the impact on costs and environmental loads (CO2 emissions and deforestation) is greatly reduced. The project team envisions a future in which houses will be built with only local resources by the local population using compact and mobile machinery, therefore also improving local working conditions and economy.

NETICS BV: The DrainUpGrader, affordable drainage thanks to a circular approach

The huge drainage network in Accra (Ghana) is in bad shape due to interruptions and blockages. This causes fatal floods with millions of euros in damage every year. There is a lot of waste in the drains, resulting in stagnant polluted water. This entails health risks. Renovation is traditionally done with concrete gutters. Concrete has a high CO2 footprint and is expensive, making renovation of the entire system prohibitively expensive. Only small parts are tackled, skipping the most flood-prone areas with the most vulnerable people. The DrainUpGrader is an attachment for an excavator that makes a circular drainage gutter of compressed soil 10x cheaper and 20x faster.

Searious Business: MOSSUP - Moroccan Supermarkets tackling Single-Use Plastics

The project ‘Moroccan Supermarkets tackling Single-Use Plastics’ (MOSSUP) provides solutions to address the urgent issue of plastic pollution in Morocco. Searious Business works with retailers and waste collectors and encourages them to take action and improve the collection and recycling of food-grade plastic packaging. The ultimate goal of the project is the reduction of single use plastic waste and improvement of the waste management system in Morocco through the setup of 2 pilots. These pilots will see the development of a fully traceable plastic bottles return system and a reusable food container scheme for supermarkets.

The Waste Transformers B.V.: Transforming waste into value in Ghana

In Accra, up to 3,000 tonnes of waste is generated every day, of which approximately 61% is organic waste. The Waste Transformers has developed, an on-site, modular, small-scale anaerobic digester, positioned at the nexus of energy, food and water. The digester transforms organic waste into energy, nutrients and water that can be placed at multiple locations (municipalities, hospitals, shopping malls, markets etc.). The result is a circular system that supplies energy, and a rich fertiliser to grow fresh food. In this project, some key adjustments will be made to the existing system in order to achieve higher performance.

Plastic Whale BV: Plastic Whale Ghana

Plastic whale developped the concept of a Smart Waste Center, an innovation that addresses litter issues through a circular approach, in Accra, Ghana. The Smart Waste Center collaborates with stakeholders from the whole waste chain to increase segregated (house-hold) waste collection and realize high material outputs for recycling purposes through more automatic sorting. It provides (predominantly female) informal waste collectors with a sustainable livelihood and engages with European stakeholders to optimally create value from waste plastics.

Want to know more about SBIR?

The Dutch government uses the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) in Developing Markets programme to challenge entrepreneurs to solve societal problems with innovative products and services in collaboration and co-creation with local partners in Africa. The Netherlands Enterprise Agency carries out SBIR for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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