Nesta launches Afri-Plastics Challenge for African innovators

Afri-plastic challenge - cleanbuild

Nesta launches Afri-Plastics Challenge for African innovators

Globally, more than 220 million tons of plastic are produced much of which ends up in oceans and other water bodies.

For its part, Sub-Saharan Africa generates over 17 million tons of waste every year and only 12% of plastic waste gets recycled, leaving the rest to be dumped in oceans, landfills, or burned.

In a bid to address plastic mismanagement in a way that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women and girls, Nesta opens the Afri-Plastics Challenge to African entrepreneurs in the plastic waste management space.

Aimed at reducing marine plastics in developing economies, the Afri-Plastics Challenge will involve a public competition that will reward the best solutions from across sub-Saharan Africa.

The competition is divided into three strands. The first which is ‘Accelerating Ideas’, targets entrepreneurs from across sub-Saharan Africa to showcase their best innovations designed to improve plastic waste management in a socially and eco-friendly way, and to reduce the presence of marine plastic litter across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Though not limited by gender, women and girls are encouraged to participate by submitting their solutions.

Constance Agyeman, Director of International Development, Nesta Challenges said, “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.”

According to her, innovation remains vital to economic growth, competitiveness, and health as Africa begins to recover from the pandemic.

Pushing this recovery process are SMEs because they are constantly innovating, going beyond the boundaries of what is possible under much pressure, and often with limited resources.

The Afri-Plastics Challenge is funded by the Government of Canada and delivered by Nesta Challenges, part of Nesta, a UK-based not-for-profit organization.


The Challenge calls for applications from registered non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) that:

  • Are based in Africa;
  • Have proof of concept
  • Have scalable solutions with the ability to reach a high target number of people, particularly engaging women and girls at both national or regional levels.

The Challenge will directly disburse CA$14,500,000 in financial support and CA$1,000,000+ in nonfinancial (capacity-building) support to the winning innovators across the various strands of the Challenge.

How to apply

Are you an innovator interested in participating in the Afri-Plastics Challenge?

  • Click here to learn more about the criteria and process for application.
  • Having read and understood the terms, conditions, and other requirements, you may apply here.

Applications close on Wednesday, September 15, 2021.

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