Co-Create Dakar Project Eiffage

In 2021, an initiative by de Rijksdienst voor Ondernemers Netherlands brought Dutch and Senegalese students, all with different backgrounds, together in an innovation Bootcamp to co-develop circular and innovative solutions for concrete circular challenges of the city of Dakar. The project focused on waste management, compost usage, and the development of biogases from animal and water waste. In 7 groups the students worked on the challenges brought by the 7 corporate project owners. Project Owner Eiffage was looking for solutions to upcycle and utilize rubble and this is what the team came up with.

The issue of construction waste management

With the fast-growing pace of Dakar’s development, the city is in constant need of new infrastructure, from housing, offices roads, and bridges. While this industry creates great opportunities it also currently creates a lot of waste, more specifically rubble. The issue is that rubble is not seen as a valuable resource by construction companies, which tend to let carriers dump it in vacant lots. Not only does this have social consequences with rubble taking valuable space within the city and being far from aesthetically pleasing, it is also a missed economic opportunity.

Upcycling Opportunities

Research, for example as being done by scientists in this article and published by MDPI, showed that companies can benefit from more efficient upcycling systems in terms of profit-making. Multiple projects like Stonecycling are already fully engaged in upcycling business models, making construction waste an essential part of new building projects.

With this in mind, one of the teams working on Dakar Co-Create was looking into this issue, trying to figure out how to turn rubble into a valuable resource, still within the construction industry.

The Problem Owner Eiffage

Source: ppiaf.org

Having been involved in Senegal’s infrastructural development for almost a century, Eiffage is well aware of the rubble management issue. It is safe to say that many of Senegal’s industries have and are still relying on the work of Eiffage. The company has been in charge of the construction of countless roads, multiple harbors, factories and even Museum. This also means that Eiffage owes a considerable part of its success to Senegal’s economy. In this way, it made sense for the company to address the construction waste management problem in the city of Dakar. At the time of Co-Create Dakar, Eiffage was looking for solutions to upcycle and utilize the rubble, actively turning a waste product into a valuable resource. One of the project teams already had a few creative ideas in mind…

The team’s solution

There are many ways to upcycle rubble, but the solution could not simply be a replication of an already existing European project and needed to be adapted to the Senegalese context. One of the observations made by the team was that Dakar being a coastal city, it required a significant number of dikes on the beaches, protecting the inner city and its infrastructure. Upcycling rubble in order to use it as material for dike and pavements made absolute sense. Concomitantly, Eiffage could look at this opportunity as the start of wider coastal projects.

Solid Circular Dikes

Senegal’s coastline representing more than 500km, there are still multiple areas that could benefit from solid circular dikes, protecting the land while eliminating construction waste issue. The team also pointed out that Eiffage should look at other upcycling opportunities in the country, arming themselves with a solid team of partners form civil engineers to waste management experts. The Eiffage upcycling department could thus address other material waste problem and create economic opportunities in different construction areas.

Earlier in 2021, PLNT in collaboration with the African Studies Center of Leiden, the Cheikh Anta Diop University, and Circular Story organized an ambitious circular project. The idea was to provide Dutch and Senegalese students with a hands-on collaborative experience where they would work together towards waste management problems that the City of Dakar is currently facing. Through a cross-border Bootcamp and with the help of problem owners, the future circular entrepreneurs developed multiple creative business solutions to real-life socio-economic challenges. This article will describe one of the teams’ work. The rest of the projects will be published soon on our website. Stay tuned!