Kenya’s largest mobile service provider – Safaricom has announced plans to support the informal sector in management of the electronic waste. The announcement was made just a day before the international e-waste day on 14th October, where the telco made its intentions to support regulators and the informal known. E-waste has become a major concern especially in the developing world which gets a huge chunk of used electronics from the waste as well as Asia due to their price.
In practical sense, buying a used electronic device like a phone or computer from the west is preferred as a cost-efficient way to own one but in most cases, African countries do not have a competent waste management plan. And while some manufacturers such as Apple strive to use recyclable materials, some counterfeit products from China do not undergo necessary check to ensure everything used to make them is recyclable.
Safaricom strategy is to employ a sustainable business model targeted at creating more employment opportunities and linking the sector to possible markets for their products. Additionally, the telco plans to involve regulators in supporting the informal sector acquire licenses necessary to increase their capacity as well as fostering transparency in waste management activities.
Speaking on the initiative, Safaricom’s Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndegwa said the integrated waste management program had worked with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Center in Nairobi to collect more than 1,200 tons of e-waste. Ndegwa also stated the company had involved government bodies including the Environment Ministry, Communications Authority and the National Environment Management Authority in its efforts. Ndegwa concluded by acknowledging the importance of letting in more participants from various stake holders necessary to tackle the e-waste menace.
In the initiative, 100 electronic waste handlers as well as 15 electronic repairers will be trained on best practices in the industry and proceed to be licensed by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA). The initiative will also seek to improve the health and safety practices among informal workers in the sector.
According to a 2020 report by the Global E-Waste Monitor, there were a record 53.6 million metric tons of e-waste generated worldwide in 2019, astounding 21 per cent increase in just five years. The report further predicts that e-waste would reach 74 metric tons worldwide by the year 2030. In essence, this puts e-waste as the fastest growing domestic waste stream partly due to increased use of electronic devices, short life cycles and fewer repair options.