News / Africa

Sub-Standard Electronics Donated to Africa Causing Pile Up of E-Waste

The safe disposal of unwanted computers, printers, mobile phones, and other electronics,  collectively known as “e-waste”, is a growing problem across Africa.  The world produces more than 50 million tons of e-waste each year, but less than one-quarter of that is recycled at the source. Many of these electronics enter Africa in the form of donations or products for sale.

After a fairly short life-span, they end up in dumps, with governments having little or no capacity to dispose of them safely. But in Kenya, guidelines and an e-waste recycling plant are spearheading e-waste efforts in East Africa.

A brave new world. Students at Our Lady of Nazareth Primary School in one of Nairobi’s informal settlements have gone digital.  They are using second-hand computers donated by a European non-profit group. These machines have been cleaned, checked, and configured for use here and in other institutions.

But most donated computers coming to Africa are not so high-quality.

“Unfortunately, when these donations come, they will be useful in the institutions for a very short period of time, maybe one or two years. Even during that time, it is very expensive to maintain them because of the frequency of the breakdowns,” says Esther Mwiyeria Wachira, education technologist at Global e-Schools and Communities Initiative, or GeSCI, a non-profit group founded by the United Nations to help developing countries use information and communications technology, or ICT, to improve their education systems.

Wachira says the worst part is that, after one or two years, most computer donations end up here, as e-waste - electrical and electronic equipment that is old, no longer valuable to their owners, or whose life-span has expired.

Many of Africa’s second-hand electronics come from European countries, either in the form of donations or products for sale. But much of it ends up being unusable in the long run, destined for the dump.

What is worse, African countries lack the capacity to deal with the lead, cadmium, mercury, plastics and other toxins contained in discarded electronics.

Vice President of the European Union Neelie Kroes says European countries have strict laws against e-waste dumping at home and abroad, and are required to recycle or treat e-waste so that it does not harm the environment. She says she thinks it is important for African governments to deal effectively with e-waste as well.

“Of course, it is tempting for countries that are not yet developed to take it for granted and think, we first need to be active, to push our economy, so the more e-commerce, e-environment there is the better and we will think over later the waste problem.” she said.

South Africa is the only African country that has legislation specifically covering e-waste. Kenya has e-waste guidelines that are expected to become law within two years’ time,

Kenya is also taking the lead in East Africa in the area of e-waste recycling. In Nairobi, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre has recycled more than 4000 computers since its inception in 2007.

You May Like

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid