Waste management is a social, economic, and environmental problem facing all African countries. If the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development is to be achieved, sustainable waste management approaches must be an environmental and public health imperative deserving political priority. Current reasons for the poor management of waste in Africa, include, amongst others, weak organizational structures; lack of appropriate skills; inadequate budgets; weak legislation; lack of enforcement; low public awareness; corruption, conflict; political instability; and lack of political will. At the heart of the problem, is a failure in governance. However, through these gaps, many social and technological innovations have emerged. Innovations that recognize the opportunity that waste provides as a secondary resource. Diverting waste away from dumpsites and landfills towards reuse, recycling and recovery can improve the livelihoods of thousands of informal waste reclaimers, while also creating new jobs and business opportunities for the continent. Reintroducing secondary resources such as polymer, fiber, metals and nutrients back into local value chains has the potential to strengthen manufacturing economies and reduce the economic burden on product imports. Bringing waste under control in Africa and unlocking the opportunities that “waste” provides as “resource” will require immediate intervention by government, business and civil society.

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