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EAC to harmonize policies on e-waste management

By Jeff Andrew Lule, Sarah Mazirwe

Added 21st July 2017 12:20 PM

“We also want this e-waste topic to be included in our school curriculums for people to understand the dangers of e-waste and how to manage it right from school,” he added.

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“We also want this e-waste topic to be included in our school curriculums for people to understand the dangers of e-waste and how to manage it right from school,” he added.

The Executive Secretary East African Communications Organization (EACO) Hodge Semakula (Left), the Permanent Secretary Ministry of ICT and National Guidance Vincent Waiswa Bagiire (Center) and the Acting Executive Director Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Susan Atengo Wegoye (Right) during the second regional workshop on sustainable e-waste management in the East African Region held at UCC Head office in Kampala on Wednesday, July 19, 2017. Photos by Shamim Saad

The East African countries are working towarads harmonizing policies, laws and regulations on e-waste management.

The chairperson, East Africa Communications Organisation (EACO) working group on environment and e-waste, Juma Ooro, noted that electronic waste is increasingly becoming a big threat to the environment and people’s health because of poor disposal.

He said the countries must harmoniously agree on the issue of electronics imported into the region to phase out the fake and used electronics.

He observed the need to promote public awareness as a first step for the citizens as end users, to understand the implication of e-waste to the environment and their own health.

“We also want this e-waste topic to be included in our school curriculums for people to understand the dangers of e-waste and how to manage it right from school,” he added.

Ooro was speaking during the 2nd EACO regional workshop on sustainable e-waste management in the East African region at the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in Bugolobi. It was held under the theme; “Towards zero negative impact of e-watse in the EACO member states by 20130”.

The meeting was attended by delegates from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.

 he ermanent ecretary inistry of  and ational uidance incent aiswa agiire speaking during the second regional workshop on sustainable ewaste management in the ast frican egion The Permanent Secretary Ministry of ICT and National Guidance Vincent Waiswa Bagiire speaking during the second regional workshop on sustainable e-waste management in the East African Region

 
They also recommended carrying out a baseline survey to understand the volumes of e-waste in all the six countries.   

The states also plan to set up a joint e-waste recycling facility to dispose off all components of e-waste across the region.

There are only two e-waste recycling equipment in Kenya and Rwanda handling a few electronic components. Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and South Sudan have none.

Most the countries have e-waste collectors but disposal remains a challenge, as much of the e-waste is dismantled as scrap.

“We want all states to have a gazzeted collection point of electronic waste in every country. People have their used up phones, radios and television sets but do not know how to dispose them. Some of these electronics rust and become a danger to people’s health and the environment,” he added.

The Permanent Secretary, ICT ministry, Vincent Bagiire called for a regional collaboration to solve the problem.

He noted that politics has played a role in promoting e-waste in Uganda. “When they try to bring a law on banning used electronics, some politicians oppose it saying we are killing business, forgetting the repercussions. That’s why Uganda remains a dumping place for these fake and used items. We just need to promote new, affordable and appropriate equipment,” he added.  

The UCC Ag. Executive Director, Susan Atengo Wegoye said they are working with other agencies including the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) and the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) to come up with a new policy on used and fake electronics, and e-waste management.

“We are also starting awareness campaigns on e-waste and used electronics for people to understand the implications,” she added.

She said currently 23 million people are phone subscribers; 2.5 million have television sets while 90% of Ugandans have access to radios.

“But we have no recycling plant to dispose them. That’s why people just throw them anywhere, which is dangerous to the environment,” she added.

The country representative United National Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Towkiny Otto said e-waste pollutes the environment if burnt recklessly.

He asked the regional states to explore possibilities of proving incentives for international investors who are willing to partner in refurbishing of the companies of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) to ease the burden on the side finances.

However, Otto said despite the harmful effects of e-waste, there are many useful benefits including creating of employment; revenue generation and producing waste bi-products which can be used to feed other local industries.

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