Nigeria's leading environmental group has endorsed plans by the government to restrict the importation of used computers, in an attempt to control a growing e-waste disposal problem. From Abuja, Gilbert da Costa reports dealing with e-waste is going to be a challenge, because of the high demand for used computers in Nigeria.
Old computers are shipped into Nigeria duty-free, making them affordable and popular among ordinary Nigerians.
The federal government says most of the appliances end up as toxic waste and a potential environmental and health hazards.
An American-based non-governmental organization, Basel Action Network, reported last year that some 400,000 second-hand computers are imported every month through the Lagos seaport.
The government hopes the introduction of duties will stem the current influx.
Environmentalists have long warned about the implication of the proliferation of e-waste across Nigeria. Piles of discarded computers litter dump sites in Nigerian cities, often close to densely populated neighborhoods.
Nigerian Environmental Society Secretary General Leslie Adogame says e-waste is a serious problem in Nigeria.
"The recent decision by the federal government look into the continuous importation of these computers is a welcomed idea," said Adogame. "E-waste has become a major source of very hazardous chemical substances. And, because we have an environment that is unregulated, a lot of environmental poisoning has been attributed to the accumulation of some of these e-wastes."
With a population of more than 140 million, analysts say Nigeria has been turned into a huge dumping ground for a range of merchandise.
Adogame says the authorities should urgently seek recycling of e-waste in Nigeria.
"The recycling option is very paramount if we are ready to do that. And, it will need a life cycle trading approach. Because we need to follow the importers of such equipment up till the end of the consumers," said Adogame. "Recycling is a very good option."
Most developed countries are increasingly regulating the disposal of unwanted electronic appliances. Nigeria, as in many other developing countries, is yet to rise up to the challenge.