Ambitions for Greening Solid Waste Management: Perspectives from Urban(ising) Africa

African cities are vexed by the triple challenge of rapid population growth, urban expansion and poor waste management. With population growth often outstripping economic growth, the ability of governments and municipalities to provide adequate solid waste management services is severely compromised. The result is pollution and waste that severely impact quality of life, ambitions for urban sustainability and green growth. Our oceans have recently been described as the ‘report cards’ of what is happening on land, and if the levels of marine litter and pollution are considered the primary indicator, the grades are not good. The Green Economy and its offshoot, the circular economy, are two paradigm shifts that have shown potential to catalyse shifts away from the traditional modes of production and consumption best described as ‘take–make–dispose’. A number of pioneering examples of these principles in action in African cities show that innovation and entrepreneurialism are important ingredients in mainstreaming such approaches in economic growth and resource management.