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A review of Africa’s transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy using circular economy principles


Year published: 2021
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2020.110609

Author / Authors:

  • G. Mutezo
  • J. Mulopo



The term “circular economy” has become more prevalent over the last decade, especially in the areas of sustainability, resource management and productivity. Globally, more national, public and private sector organizations are considering the concept in their daily operations. With growing concerns about the impacts of climate change, there are equally growing debates about curbing the impacts. One such debate is to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. This paper reviewed existing literature relevant to Africa’s energy transition – whether it is enabled and can be guided by the principles of a circular economy. Various journal articles and business studies published between 2009 and 2019 were reviewed using a Systematic Literature Review Process. The study found that Africa’s energy demand is expected to increase significantly, and it will be driven by industrialization and population growth. Most of sub-Saharan Africa’s energy supply comes from renewable energy sources, while countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa and Egypt (the Big Five) are still heavily dependent on fossil fuels. The researchers concluded that a circular economy approach can enable greater renewable energy uptake and transitioning. To support and enable a sustainable energy transition, regional finance institutions such as the African Development Bank and governments, can continue to finance more scalable technologies and adopt ‘intentional’ regulations which are guided by circular principles and a just- transition. Although data pertaining to how the transition can be underpinned by circularity is limited, there is great opportunity for more scientific and industry research that can provide further contextualized support.

G. Mutezo, J. Mulopo,
A review of Africa's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy using circular economy principles,
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews,
Volume 137,
ISSN 1364-0321,


  • Journal Article