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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid