Improve the circular business practices in the construction sector in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia.

The shift from the current (linear) economic model (extract, make, use, throw away) to an increasingly regenerative (circular) one is an opportunity to achieve both economic and social wellbeing and environmental safeguarding. The private sector is especially  keen to learn more about the possible value creation of these practices and seeks assistance in piloting and demonstrating  new materials, designs and business models in their respective value chains. Four organisations that represent the private sector working in the construction sector from Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe came to EU Africa RISE to provide this type of support.

Why use circular economy models in the construction sector?

The construction industry is one of the world’s largest consumers of energy and raw materials. With nearly 40% of CO2 emissions, the industry has a considerable environmental impact as it requires a vast amount of resources and materials, while generating a significant amount of waste.


Shifting from a linear to a circular economy could bring huge environmental improvements in the sector. With innovative new business models and adopting appropriate technologies, implementing resource efficiency and embracing circular economic models, the construction sector would be able to create economic and social value.


Linear economy vs circular economy

The circular economy is restorative in nature, and it aims to maintain the utility of products, components and materials for as long as possible while also retaining their value. It thus minimises the need for new inputs of virgin materials and energy, while reducing environmental pressures linked to resource extraction, emissions and waste management. This goes beyond just waste and requires natural resources to be managed efficiently and sustainably throughout their life cycles (EEA, 2016).


In mid-2022 the Namibian Construction Industries Federation (CIF) approached the Africa RISE Facility to request support for its members to understand more about the circular economy [CE] practice. Later in the year, similar interests were received  from Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association [ZBCA] and two organisations working in partnership in Botswana: Business Botswana (BB) - Construction Sector & Built Environment, and Botswana Green Building Council. Following approval for this request, the project was launched in early 2023. Its aim is to increase knowledge in the construction sector on ‘circular economy’ opportunities and models that could be implemented by the private sector. It is expected that learnings from this project will be shared through SWITCH to Green Facility, SADC Secretariat and the SADC Business Council, in order for good practices to reach organisations beyond the current project. 


By encouraging collaboration and partnerships between those three different countries, Africa RISE is pursuing different long-term objectives:  


  • Increase knowledge on ‘circular economy’ opportunities and models that could be implemented in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and other SADC member countries. 
  • Create the opportunity to identify possible pilot initiatives within SADC for demonstration of the value that the circular economy can bring. 
  • Ensure the future competitiveness of the Botswana, Namibian and Zimbabwe construction and built environment sector.  
  • Increase the sustainability of the built environment’s business practices.  


·             CIF Namibia: the national voice of Namibia's construction industry with more than 60 years of contribution to the economic prosperity of the nation by providing the skills and infrastructure required to build a prosperous and competitive environment.

·             Zimbabwe Building Contractors Association: a non-profit making National Business Organization formed in 1985 with the purpose of providing a quality service that meets the expectations of members and stakeholders.

·             Business Botswana (Construction Sector & Built Environment): a private sector organisation functioning as Chamber of Commerce Employer Organisation and

·             Botswana Green Building Council: an industry association established for driving the development, growth, and facilitation of a green environment.