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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid