As a build up to the global conference on e-waste management,The Computer for Schools Kenya (CFSK) in partnership with Microsoft held an e-waste conference at the African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) in Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.
The conference provided a platform for African countries to come together to identify and address issues on e-waste management and the recycling industry, coming at a time when e-wast has become a global concern.
E-Waste has mainly been driven by the technology boom, rapid changes in configuration of electronic devices, attractive offers that accompany technological advances and availability of new and recycled devices.
Themed “Sustainable Environmentally Friendly Management of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment” the conference brought together stakeholders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Nigeria, and Zambia under who cited the absence of regulatory frameworks and lack of awareness as the main factors contributing to the rising menace of electronic waste (e-waste).
During the conference, the delegates agreed that African countries have weak legal regimes that cannot be relied on to control production, user handling and disposal of electronic waste. They noted that none of the African countries has legislation on e-waste management. In cases where Bills have been developed, they are still pending in Parliament.
The UYW grant to CFSK goes towards supporting African countries to set up and/or better manage e-waste facilities & advocate for policies on e-waste management in the various countries and so far they are working with public (government agencies) and private (for profit & not for profit) institutions.
The grant is also used donate refurbished computers to schools to enhance integration of ICT in teaching and learning.
Speaking during the conference, CFSK Founder and Director, Dr. Tom Musili, said Kenya like her East African counterparts only has guidelines on e-waste management, as a Bill on the same has been pending in Parliament for a long time.
“We are lagging behind developed countries in establishing laws that would create environmentally safe disposal methods for electronic waste to keep pace with the change and advancement in the ICT sector,” he said.
African Institute for Capacity Development (AICAD) deputy director, Prof Dominic Byarugaba, urged African countries to invest in research to be able to establish the impact of e-waste on environment and health.
He said that research based evidence on effects of e-waste would prompt policy makers into action.
Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs Manager in East and Southern Africa, Mr. Alex Nyingi, who was also in attendance said that the Bill which has been in Parliament for some time now has good provisions on educating the public and creating awareness on the safe handling and opportunities of e-waste. He encouraged IT product developers to play a greater role in educating and supporting the society on e-waste management in order to mitigate against the challenges facing the society from an alarming increase in e-waste.
“Product developers need to develop solutions for the challenges facing the society and e-waste is one such phenomenon that needs to be tackled to maintain sanity in our environment,” said Nyingi.
“As African countries we want to come together to promote waste reduction, recycling, reuse, recovery and creating policy awareness on e-waste management and recycling industry,” Mr. Seth Munyambu from the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Centre added.
According to oAfrica, the predicament of African electronic waste management is even more complicated based on the fact that the problem exists on two fronts. Africa, along with every other continent, produces or purchases new electronic equipment that must be disposed of at the end of its lifespan. Additionally, and perhaps more problematic, is Africa’s adopted role as importer of electronic refuse from the United States and Europe.