Innovation and Circular Economy in Africa - Conference on Dec. 7, 2018


Africa as the next frontier

Many markers show that Africa has entered a cycle of solid economic development that will be similar to what Asia experienced over the previous decades.
The ascent of a connected Africa is enabling nations over the region to leapfrog a few phases of advancement in key sectors like banking and telecommunications, and is rapidly reshaping business and society. Ericsson estimated the number of cell phones in Africa will reach 930 million by 2019, driving web penetration to 50% within a decade. This tech revolution, which is accompanied by a young and growing labour force and consumer market, holds the keys to fundamentally shifting the growth trendline for the continent.


Even with this development, many African nations have slowed lately after a period of strong growth. Weak infrastructure, skills shortages, weak governance and a general reliance on commodities are weighing on the region. This underscores the need for economic diversification, on the one hand, and for continuous, inclusive growth in domains like agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, education and banking, on the other.


As Africa leapfrogs its way to a more prosperous future, there is another major opportunity that can take it from leapfrogger to world leader – implementation of the principles of circular economy at this stage of development. Ensuring that the future growth in the region is not just sustainable in economic terms but also in planetary terms. Reducing, reusing and recycling inputs, designing businesses and business models that are circular by design, and generally avoiding the many mistakes the industrialized nations have made. This Opportunity holds within it many opportunities for Africa to take a thought leadership and action leadership role in bringing the principles of circular economy to unprecedented scale and scope.

Africa without a doubt offers potential, but the question remains: how is it being achieved?

Technology is boosting African economies that have long been closed, fragile or weak. But the wealth of opportunities is mirrored by a plethora of questions.
  • What new industries are emerging?
  • Which new products and services are set to disrupt businesses and markets in the coming years?
  • How quickly can these future trends be brought to market at scale?
  • What’s the current state of play of the Circular Economy in Africa?
  • How can circular economy create value for businesses and society?
  • Where can we find the best practices, interesting innovations and ambitious visions for the Circular Economy in Africa?

What is the goal of the conference?

This half-day intensive conference aims to inform you, open your mind and help you see where and how you can fit into this landscape.

Regardless of whether you are a business man or woman, an entrepreneur, a researcher, an investor, a policymaker, or just a curious and well-informed global citizen, there will be tools, models, concepts, ideas, values and value for you.

Our goal is to facilitate thought-leadership on innovation and circular economy. We want to support and promote innovation and circular economy and facilitate collaboration from the micro (individuals, business and academia) to the macro (policy, law makers and decision makers).
We have a sense-making ambition that this conference will help people from multiple disciplines understand both the little and big pictures. Which is why École des Ponts Business School is hosting this multidisciplinary gathering of corporates, thought leaders, inventors, entrepreneurs, academics and policymakers to inspire sustained economic growth across the continent and contribute to Africa’s emerging competitive edge.

Who is this conference for?

Business professionals and policy makers: If you wish to make a difference on the African continent, join us to give and get insights to harness the African potential and network with like-minded individuals.
Founders / Entrepreneurs: If you’re building something for the African market, you are the kind of pioneer that we want to include and highlight in this conversation.
Thought leaders, students, researchers, journalists, consultants: your inputs and questions help generate value and insights. Join us so we can better understand, together, the innovation opportunities and challenges Africa has to offer.
Investors: If you’re working to fund African ventures, gain a deeper understanding of the increasingly rich opportunities Africa has to offer, please add your perspective as you extract value.



1:30 Welcome Desk opens

2-4pm - Part 1 Lessons from Innovation & Circular Economy in Africa

1. Word of welcome

By Giorgos Demetriou, Chaired professor and Director of the Circular Economy Research Center (CERC)

The newly opened Circular Economy Research Center (CERC), under the direction of Professor Demetriou, is currently developing dedicated courses, a certificate and an E-MBA specialized in Circular Economy Management as well as Circular Economy training programs, a Circular Economy Live Lab, Journal and Expert Network.

2. ‘’Prospects of entrepreneurship: which innovations are set to disrupt businesses in Africa?’’

By Omar Laalej – Senior Investment Manager at AfricInvest Group.

AfricInvest is an investiment and financial services company that manages USD1 billion across 14 funds, focused on North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, and employs 65 professionals based in 9 offices.

AfricInvest has invested in 135 companies across 24 African countries in a variety of high growth sectors and maintains a broad network of high quality executives across Africa, offering extensive expertise in key growth industries, including financial services, agribusiness, consumer/retail, education and healthcare.

More specifically related to our conference, AfricInvest has an investment plan targeting startups in Africa, from early stage to growth

3. ‘’How circular economy creates value for businesses and society in Africa: two case studies’’

By Murielle Diaco, founder and CEO of DJOUMAN, one of the leading platforms catalyzing innovation for sustainability in Africa.

Djouman is a community of innovative and active entrepreneurs in Africa, who wish to have strong impact locally. The platform allows members to interact and build business relationships.

In parallel, Djouman supports start-ups and SMEs to find investors and business partners. The platform also helps identifying the most promising projects that are part of sustainable development in Africa.

4. “The future of finance in Africa: how to leverage Fintechs & sustainable finance in funding innovation’’

By Mourad Fathallah, Head of Strategy at Casablanca Finance City.

Casablanca Finance City has been created by the Moroccan government as a financial gateway for investors looking to access fast-growing markets in Africa, as well as for international businesses to set up headquarters for their regional operations.

Casablanca Finance City is ideally placed to help businesses to access the new opportunities in Great North West Africa, GNWA. The financial center is designed to aggregate opportunity, remove traditional barriers to investment and give investors the economies of scale they need to take full advantage of growth potential in North and West Africa. Through an ecosystem of international business, financial institutions and professional services, Casablanca Finance City aims to keep dealings with diverse African markets as simple and economical as possible, supporting the ambitions of investors and North and West African countries.

5. “Investing in fragile states: Early learnings from an innovative business model to boost livelihood of smallholder farmers in Africa”

By Oladotun OLATUNJI, Founder of FarmCrew

FarmCrew is an agric-finance startup focused on connecting smallholder farmers to low-cost blended finance, shared technology services and post-harvest markets via a cooperative model. Our insurance partners provide insurance for the farms to protect investors’ funds. We help to improve efficiency and productivity of smallholder farmers’ value-chain. Our business model is based on shared-farm ownership allowing farmers to earn up to 50% of net profit generated. We are transforming the traditionally dysfunctional market system that exploits smallholder farmers.

By leveraging on insurance and collective effort of farmers cooperatives, we are able to achieve scale, reduce cost and dilute risk. Our mission is to enhance the livelihood of all smallholder farmers and empower them to feed Africa.

6. Round Table – Audience interaction with the Speakers, VIPs and Journalists.

4:00-4:30pm Part 2 - Showcasing Innovation & CE in Africa - CASE Africa

Introducing and Presenting CASE AFRICA

Pr. Younes SEKKOURI- Executive Director CASE AFRICA

Story- Positioning, Values and General Overview

Ambition and General Overview of the Structure


Editorial Strategy

Emeritus Professor Suman Modwel – Chair Editorial Board

Overview of the Editorial Orientation – introduction of the realized cases and publications

Presentation of the Members of the Editorial Board


Connecting the dots

Pr. Alon Rozen Dean Ecole des Ponts Business School – Chair Strategic Orientation Board

Connecting CASE AFRICA to the Business School – why a strategic orientation board


Presentation of the Members of the Strategic Orientation Board

Declaration of Interest: Mr. ZAKARIA RBII- President AGEF – MOROCCO

Declaration of Interest: Madame NAJLA HAMDI – Présidente APRH- TUNISIA

4:30-5:30pm Networking & Drinks

Register for the conference here

Practical information

  • Venue: The conference is hosted in the positive-energy Coriolis building at the main campus of École des Ponts.
    Street address: 12 Boulevard Copernic, 77420 Champs-sur-Marne.


  • Date: December 7, 2018.


  • Schedule: Welcome desk opens at 1:30 pm – the Conference starts at 2:00 pm and ends at 5:30 pm.