The Ministry of Environment and partners from across government have hosted the inaugural National Circular Economy Forum to fast-track Rwanda’s adoption of this new way of doing business. The forum was attended by a range of stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and government agencies who learnt more about the circular economy and how it can advance green growth in Rwanda.
Contrary to our current linear economic model, in which we ‘take-make-consume and throw away’, the circular economy offers an opportunity to use resources to their highest value and continuously re-use rather than them being thrown away.
The forum was officiated by the Minister of Environment, Vincent Biruta, who spoke about the importance of building a vibrant circular economy in Rwanda and invited participants to focus on the opportunities that come with the circular economy.
“We are hosting this forum to bring everyone onto the same page about the opportunities of the circular economy and chart a course to ensure its success in Rwanda. The circular economy has the potential to create jobs, increase economic growth and increase living standards,” he said.
The forum began with a presentation from Olivier Kamana, Head of the Applied Research and Development and Foresight Incubation Department at the National Industrial Research and Development Agency (NIRDA). He spoke on the principles of the circular economy and implications for Rwanda’s industrial development.
“We must no longer consider people as ‘consumers’, but rather as ‘users’ of a product or service. In this way, we shift the understanding of how business can interact with their customers in a more circular manner. We have to promote a circular economy - it is imperative for businesses to survive and thrive. We are ready at NIRDA to support industries to promote the circular economy," he said.
A panel discussion of green champions who are taking initiatives to advance the circular economy followed. Tony Adesina, CEO at Gura Ride, Professor James Blignaut from Stellenbosch University, Rosette Umuhoza, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer at My Green Home and Teddy Mugabo, Head of Business Development at Rwanda Green Fund shared with participants their experience and lessons learned along the way. The panel was moderated by Toyin Abiodun, Strategic Advisor at the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Coletha Ruhamya, Director General at Rwanda Environment Management Authority, briefed attendees on single-use plastics and stressed the urgency of transitioning to sustainable alternatives.
The forum continued with an interactive discussion on single-use plastics with Aline-Pascale Batamuliza, Corporate Affairs and Communication Manager at Bralirwa Plc, James Biseruka, Managing Director at Inyange Industries, Sina Gerald, Founder of Entreprise Urwibutso, and Dharmarajan Hariharan, Managing Director of Sulfo Rwanda Industries. The panel shared plans for developing effective PET bottle recovery schemes, which some of the represented companies have already started implementing.
The forum was an opportunity for discussion between the private sector, civil society and government, and highlighted the opportunities and challenges encountered.
“The discussions we have had today and the attitude of collaboration will help us to overcome the challenges we may face in building a circular economy. As government, we are open to hear different ideas and are here to provide the mechanisms to support those ideas and solutions to the environmental challenges we face.” said Vincent Biruta, Minister of Environment.
The forum concluded with the presentation of recommendations on how to advance the circular economy forum by William Mugabo, Green Economy Specialist at the Ministry of Environment. The recommendations cover four elements: Research and Development, Knowledge and Data Sharing, Access to Finance, and Capacity Building and Awareness.
View and download photos from the forum here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/98168367@N06/albums/72157710175724516