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In the name of ICT for Development, Africa is becoming an E-Waste dumping ground.

Electronic waste, e-waste, e-scrap, or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) describes discarded electrical or electronic devices. Informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries causes serious health and pollution problems. Some electronic scrap components, such as CRTs, contain contaminants such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, mercury, and brominated flame retardants. Even in developed countries recycling and disposal of e-waste may involve significant risk to workers and communities.

We have seen a lot of NGOs invading Africa, handing out old computers in the name of ICT for Development. Society should watch out because Africa is being treated as an E-Waste dumping ground.

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Comment by Enock Othin on July 16, 2012 at 8:31pm

Thanks Stephanie like in Uganda the government abolished the importation of old computers into the country which I think created way for new ones hence less revenue.

Comment by Stephanie on July 16, 2012 at 4:31pm

I just watched the Greenpeace video Sheba posted here (Watch it! It's an eye-opener...). Some electronic equipment may indeed be recycled, as Enock says, but a high percentage of it is actually waste. Once burnt, metals such as lead are extracted from cables, monitors etc. Although the metals may be sold at good prices, the actual cost is much higher. The individuals who work in these huge scrap yards do not realise the harm that the fumes are generating. 

I still fail to understand why this is a persisting problem: is there no set-up to distinguish between e-waste and second-hand? Are developing countries buying old equipment under the wrong impression that it can be salvaged? Or is it being donated (ie no revenue for the 'sending' countries) in the name of ICT4D?

Comment by Enock Othin on July 10, 2012 at 7:22am
Thanks Mary
Comment by Mary Murphy on July 9, 2012 at 4:42pm

Thanks Enock - appreciate the detailed answer and glad to see it's not a deliberate ploy.

Comment by Enock Othin on July 9, 2012 at 4:27pm

Thanks Mary I can't say it's a deliberate act on part of the NGOs or collateral damage,  E-Waste is dangerous as certain components therein contain hazardous materials that pose a threat to public health and the environment. Discarded computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines, electric lamps, cell phones, audio equipment and batteries all constitute e- Waste. Many of these products can however be refurbished, reused, or recycled in an environmentally sound manner so that they are less harmful to the ecosystem and public health.

The processing of electronic waste is a major challenge in developing countries because electronic
equipment contains some very serious contaminants such as lead, cadmium, and beryllium and
brominates flame retardants .The positive side to this is that most commodities found in e-waste,
whether it be a computer, printer, monitor or television, can be properly recycled and disposed, on
the other hand allowing old electronics to end up in landfill sites only aggravates the growing
problem of improper electronics disposal.

Therefore, there is need to come up with a regulatory framework specifically to deal with e-waste
in Africa and that this is best handled at multi-sectoral level, with public-private partnerships,
noting that we are all stakeholders in the matter.

Comment by Mary Murphy on July 9, 2012 at 1:17pm

Sorry lads - my question still goes unanswered and I'm really interested in what you think. Do you think this is a deliberate act on the part of NGOs or just collateral damage from what they see as a good deed?

Comment by Enock Othin on July 9, 2012 at 7:30am

Thanks Oloo I agree with you.

Comment by Charles Oloo on July 9, 2012 at 12:42am

We better watch out accepting old electronic gadgets as a form of AID. It is a disaster in waiting. We have had one of the cleanest environments on earth, NOW getting endangered. Do we have capacity to handle the wastes. Maybe, build capacity / empower our idle, leaned human resource and somehow create opportunities. We need to put systems in place and some governance, before its too late.

Comment by Enock Othin on July 6, 2012 at 3:57pm

Thanks Mary for the supplement

Comment by Mary Murphy on July 6, 2012 at 3:34pm

We have seen a lot of NGOs invading Africa, handing out old computers in the name of ICT for Development

Now there's an angle that I've never thought of before. Do you think this is a deliberate act on the part of NGOs or just collateral damage from what they see as a good deed?

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