The challenge, funded by the Government of Canada, will involve a public competition that will reward the best solutions from across sub-Saharan Africa to addressing marine plastic waste in a way that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.
The competition's first strand, Accelerating Ideas, invites entrepreneurs from across sub-Saharan Africa to showcase their best innovations designed to improve plastic waste management in a socially and environmentally responsible way and to reduce the presence of marine plastic litter across sub-Saharan Africa.
The challenge calls for applications from registered non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that have proof of concept and the ability to scale nationally or regionally to reach a high target number of people, particularly engaging women and girls.
Over 17 million tonnes of waste are generated by sub-Saharan Africa annually and only 12% of plastic waste is recycled. The Afri-Plastics Challenge seeks to find innovators with scalable and sustainable solutions to prevent plastic waste from entering the marine environment in sub-Saharan Africa. While not limited by gender, the challenge encourages women and girls to participate by submitting their solutions.
Over 220 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year across the world and much of it ends up in oceans and other water bodies. In many African countries, approximately 12% of waste plastics are recycled and the rest are disposed of, burned or buried.
“The drive for home-grown innovation in Africa has led to a major rise in African entrepreneurs developing solutions that are effective and contextual to their environments. This in turn has attracted several global firms and tech hubs to the continent. We are looking for founders, innovators and entrepreneurs across sub-Saharan Africa with exciting concepts to alleviate the negative impacts of plastic pollution, to help protect marine environments,” said Constance Agyeman, director of international development at Nesta Challenges.
The challenge will directly distribute CA$14,5m in financial support and over CA$1m in non-financial support to the winning innovators across the various strands of the challenge. Interested innovators can learn more about the criteria and process for application here. Applications close on Wednesday, 15 September at 12pm BST.