The secretariat of the Basel Convention last week published a report looking into the current state of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) in Africa. The report is titled ‘Where are WEee in Africa’.
The report highlights the importance of developing safe recycling capacity and recovery infrastructure in Africa. As is well known, the impact of inappropriately-treated WEEE can be catastrophic for the health and the environment in communities that do not have adequate recycling facilities in place. Computer Aid fully supports such developments, as the threat of e-waste cannot be ignored.
The report also highlights the very real social and economic value of providing high quality refurbished and tested EEE to African countries. Computer Aid exists to reduce poverty through practical ICT solutions, which is largely done through the provision of computers and laptops for use in education, agriculture and health across Africa and Latin America. There is a massive need for the use of ICT in many communities across the developing world. There is also the need for safe waste management facilities to be in place to deal with the ICT equipment once it reaches its end-of-life.
There’s still a lot of work to do
Whilst a number of African states are making progress in adopting WEEE legislation and seeking to boost waste management capacities, there is still a lot of work to be done. Without solid investment, the economic incentive for informal recovery remains high, this means that engagement with WEEE in Africa must be tackled in a dynamic and comprehensive way. To promote environmental protection, support must be given so that African countries are able to apply the best available techniques for e-waste recovery activities.
The Basel Convention’s report makes three main recommendations regarding e-waste in Africa:
- tackling the illegal import of waste or near-end-of-use equipment from developed countries
- promoting the collection and recycling of WEEE in-country
- developing proactive policies and legislation supported by well-resourced enforcement.
What Computer Aid is doing to help
The report’s conclusions and recommendations are very much in line with Computer Aid’s ongoing environmental advocacy work. Computer Aid is currently putting together the fifth in a series of special reports relating to ICTs and the Environment, the next special report explores and develops recommendations for transferable Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).