DECEMBER 5 to 8, 2022 was a landmark period where I was honoured to be part of the World Circular Economy Forum 2022, which was also the first to be held on African soil. It is also the first world circular event which has been held physically since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
By definition, a circular economy refers to new and innovative approaches which are important to address the current and future challenges being faced by communities and countries as a whole, while providing new skills training, employment and entrepreneurship for the youths in Zimbabwe both in the rural and urban set-ups.
It is a complimentary approach to the linear economy which was the basis of development for Zimbabwe from the 1950s onwards, where vital and world-class development was done in regards to the construction of the Kariba Dam between 1956 and 1959, with an installed capacity to generate a mighty 1 626 megawatts (MW) of electricity for Zambia and Zimbabwe; the development of the coal-powered Hwange Thermal Power Station between 1983 and 1986, which has a full capacity of generating 920MW of power.
This was a futuristic and best commendable focus on energy for industries, domestic households, recreation, farming and mining operations for Zimbabwe. These two systems which I have highlighted are brilliant examples of the linear economy, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible for the maximum value as long as there is still value from them.
The change in dynamics
During the past 15 years, notable change has been severe climate change within the sub-sub-Saharan African region and globally. We have experienced more heatwaves than usual, much cooler winters and heavier rains than usual, which has resulted in calamities such as the Cyclone Idai.
Recently, there was also the global COVID-19 pandemic.
During this period, it was very difficult for everyone, including for our relatives in the diaspora, to support their families back home. On another note, the rainfall patterns have become more inconsistent than before, so many unusual factors are taking a toll on us.
- Power cuts spur Zimbabwe’s green energy revolution
- Mines propose fresh power import deal
- Power cuts spur Zimbabwe’s green energy revolution
- Coal crisis pegs back power generation
It seems we keep remaining conventional in an increasingly demanding and unconventional world. We have to come up with solutions.
The global perspective
Recently, we have had the COP26 and COP27 series of international forums which seek to address and develop plans, scoping and timelines for the targets and strategies which seek to reduce negative effects of climate change on a macro scale.
In terms of nature and biodiversity conservation, there was the Biodiversity conference which was also held in December 2022 in Montreal, Canada. Africa has been taking a lead in the global issues of climate change, seeing that this year’s COP27 series was held in Egypt, recently.
Practical perspectives for the Zimbabwean set-up
One of the observations I have made is that as Zimbabweans, we are a society which is always looking to strive for the better. Mediocrity and being idle has never been our topic of the day. Coincidentally, there has been an increase in antisocial behaviours and immoral activities.
This is largely because we have been forced to deviate from the norm, the normal set-up whereby everything is available and applicable as per your will and plans. The world itself is going through drastic changes.
The paradigm shift
We need to realise that time is moving, we are not growing any younger. Challenges may only get worse. My main focus today is on the youth as we are the key and the beacon of hope for our country. No one is going to change your situation until you change your mindset.
Think outside the box, be disciplined and make it happen. Below are some of the circular economy concepts which can be practised for us to stay relevant, create our own jobs, make money and reduce the chance of any shock to your individual economy in the event of any external factor.
Food and lighting
Develop a biogas system at home or at the farm or warehouse. Utilise your food leftovers as a resource to feed your bio-digester. For those who have large amounts of biomass and are privileged to have space, you may construct a bio-digester for heating and cooking pursposes.
Bio-digesters produce organic liquid fertiliser which is good for watering your vegetables and flowers.
For those who do not have much space or have small families, you may procure mobile bio-digesters, which are almost the size of a household bin and produce enough gas for cooking.
These can be purchased from China or South Africa and some local suppliers in Zimbabwe. All options are very affordable and effective.Reduce your daily LP gas bill by procuring the gas bags for biogas, this is the storage element of the biogas, it is similar to the image of a pillow and it deflates or inflates according to the gas content inside.
These are measured in litres as there gas is not compressed. To understand the equivalent value in kilograms, you divide by 2000. That means; a 4,000 liters gas bag will be equivalent to 2 kilograms of biogas.
*How do I maintain my backyard chicken poultry project
The absence of electricity can be very stressful as I know most Zimbabwean families have a small backyard chicken project. The smart way is to use the biogas system to install heaters to provide warmth for the chicks and the chickens during the winter and cold periods.
For the fridges and cooling preservative systems for our poultry projects. There are generators which can run entirely on biomass and do not require any petrol or diesel, sounds surprising I believe, but this is very practical and is being implemented. It reduces an ounce of stress for your project and the monies required for school fees!
How do I get money to support my family, how do I practice my innovation?
Lets practice the circular economy. There is a case study and more practical events I have witnessed for plastic to bricks and pavers production. A few weeks ago, I teamed up with my nephew to mobilize the resource (plastics) from the dumpsites, shopping centers and random places where we are now producing our own good quality road pavers, we have designed them in different shapes and colors. Sooner, we are looking to complete our experiment on floor tiles. All from recycled plastic and sand.
Surely with all the people building homes in Zimbabwe, there is enough market for us and other willing entrepreneurs to live a decent life. The youth of Zimbabwe, lets get dirty, work the dumpsites, the trash bins and create the gold for the future we want!
How do I support my brother in Mount Belingwe who needs money to buy groceries monthly?
Things are very tough, the cost of living is very high and in most cases, the money is not coming in like it used to. So we need tio think outside the box and make a plan. We have vocational centers in all Districts and Provinces in Zimbabwe.
We should look to help train and equip all social classes within Zimbabwe, particularly those in the rural areas and developing town so that they also become productive and practice entrepreneurship, so that they may also develop self confidence and also support the relatives or siblings who are at school in the towns. For example, if my brother Sinfree can produce 10,000 bricks a day from recycled waste which he collects with his cart “ngoro”, he can make $500 United States dollars a day, for the same amount he can buy 10 goats or 2 cows. What a game changer!
The Circular Economy In Waste Incineration
My close colleague Mr. Terrence Mathe he is the Managing Director of Southern Incineration Services Company, a waste management company based in Zimbabwe, a genius in his kind is my age-mate.
His organization specializes in the incineration of medical waste nationwide. He developed and implemented a modern circular economy system where he completely alleviated the use of diesel for their burners during the incineration process.
They developed a system of recycling used oil through pyrolysis where they completely dissolved the cost of diesel and utilize used oil. Fantastic, anyone who has tried to do a carwash business understands the complications of setting up and maintaining an oil separator system and also complying with the standards and regulations of EMA.
My analysis and objective is to seek to concientise the populace to refocus and try out the new global models so as to keep going, make money from waste, make gas from waste, manage your home projects from waste. We need to strive, focus and develop the appropriate mindset and make money.
The author is Tichakunda Kudzai Maposa is an emerging focused Environmental, Circular Economy and Projects specialist. He has worked in the African region where he started his journey in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Rwanda.
An Africa University Graduate, he is also a member of the World Circular Economy Network, a Blue Member of the European Business Chamber of Rwanda, Associate member of the International Society for Development and Sustainability (ISDS). He is available on 0775 589 199 or on email; firstname.lastname@example.org