Domestic e-waste generation surges in Africa
By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling
A new report from the Basel Convention offers surprising insight into the role domestic generation of e-waste plays in African nations.
According to the Basel Convention's Where are WEEE in Africa report, "it is assumed that in 2010 between 50 – 85 percent of e-waste was domestically generated out of the consumption of new or used EEE of good quality with a reasonable life-span."
The findings are the latest in a series of studies that examine the flow of electronics in west Africa, with this specific study focusing on Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia and Nigeria. Despite several recent high profile toxic dumping busts, the report found that the majority of electronics imported into the countries were functional.
For example, the study found that 30 percent of the electronics imported to Ghana in 2009 were non-functional. Of those non-functional electronics, half were refurbished and resold locally and half were dumped. Independent university research, such as a series of studies conducted by Arizona State University, have corroborated these findings.
Like much of the developing world, personal electronics use has surged in Africa. Ten times as many Africans now have access to personal computers, compared to a decade ago.
The report offers several recommendations, most notably that increased domestic generation of e-waste is a recycling and refurbishment challenge that is not being sufficiently addressed. The report concludes by saying:
"High volumes of domestically generated e-waste require well-functioning local take-back and recycling systems. Challenges include the establishment of appropriate collection strategies, ensuring that high volumes of valuable and non-valuable waste fractions are collected equally and that those fractions reach appropriate treatment and disposal facilities. In addition, connecting informal collectors to a formal recycling structure is pivotal, along with appropriate capacity building and training."