Global Affairs Canada

Afri-Plastics Challenge: Promoting Change

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Tackling marine plastics in Sub-Saharan Africa

Over 17 million tonnes of waste are generated by Sub-Saharan Africa annually, and only 12% of plastic waste is recycled. The Challenge aims to reduce marine plastics in Sub-Saharan African countries by developing and scaling innovative solutions to plastic mismanagement in a way that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women and girls.

The Challenge will help communities throughout Sub-Saharan Africa to prevent plastic waste from entering the marine environment by finding ways to minimize reliance on plastic and new ways of managing plastic waste.

The Problem

Over the past years, demand for plastic has substantially increased in Sub-Saharan Africa and it is projected to follow the same trajectory over the next decades…

375% Growth

in Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East and North Africa Together

210% Increase

in Global Average by 2060

Challenge schedule

The Afri-Plastics Challenge is divided into three strands:

Strand 1: Accelerating Growth (Applications Closed)

Seeking small and medium-sized enterprises that have a proof of concept and the ability to scale nationally or regionally to reach a high target number of people, particularly engaging women and girls.

Learn more here

Strand 2: Creating Solutions – (Applications Closed)

A call for new ideas particularly those that respond to a particular gap in the innovation landscape in specific Sub-Saharan African countries or with specific population groups.

Learn more here

Strand 3: Promoting Change (Launching December 2021)

A call for large scale campaigns that raise awareness and engage women and girls in the plastics value chain.

Learn more here

Strand 3: Promoting Change

Schematic of the plastics value chain, from sources of plastic to collection, waste systems, and leaks into the environment.

Challenge Statement

We seek the creation of campaigns, schemes, tools and other creative interventions that will change both the behaviour of individuals and communities around plastic waste in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as contribute to the empowerment of women and girls.

Successful applicants will use innovative engagement strategies such as nudges, gamification, incentives, and storytelling, as well as insights on the roles that women and girls play across the value chain. By the end of the challenge, the best solutions will have generated evidence of change in individual and communities’ behaviour around one or more of the following:

  • Reducing littering
  • Segregation of plastic waste
  • Choosing reusable options
  • Refusing single-use plastic



In April 2022, 30 Semi-Finalists will be selected and each receive a £5,000 grant.


Of the Semi-Finalists, 15 will be selected to move forward to the finalist stage and will receive a grant of £50,000 to support in the development and validation of their solutions.

In June 2022, the 15 finalists will be required to submit a detailed report and plan outlining progress against their plans, together with a pitch video for evaluation by the judges against the criteria (see the Applicant Handbook for more details).

In March 2023, three winners will be selected to receive a prize of £250,000.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Applicants must have a new or early-stage idea.
  • Ideas must be focused in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Applicants can be formally constituted and operating in Sub-Saharan Africa as either a registered business or NGO, but applications from individuals and community groups will also be accepted.
  • Applicants can be an individual, single entity (organisation or community group), an African partnership or an international partnership. For partnership applications, the nominated lead applicant must be operating in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Applicants must own or be licensed to use relevant intellectual property included in their applications. If your application is proposing a new idea, then Nesta would expect that you would own all resulting intellectual property which may be able to be registered on a local basis if you become a successful participant in the Challenge. Nesta would not be able to give you specific legal advice on the protection or exploitation of intellectual property.



This Project is an element of the $100-million Marine Litter Mitigation Fund announced by Prime Minister Trudeau at the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Charlevoix in June 2018. Funding for the initiative comes from the International Assistance Priorities Fund.


Nesta Challenges designs and run challenge prizes that help solve pressing problems that lack solutions. We shine a spotlight where it matters and incentivise people to solve these issues.

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