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Electronic Waste: A Major Challenge to Sustainable Development in Africa

TitleElectronic Waste: A Major Challenge to Sustainable Development in Africa
Publication TypeProceedings Article
Year of Conference2009
AuthorsOsibanjo A
Conference NameR'09 World Congress
Conference Start Date14/09/2009
Conference LocationDavos, Switzerland
KeywordsContamination, e-waste, hazardous, recycle., Sustainable
AbstractUsed electrical electronic equipment (UEEE) is critical to bridging the digital divide and improving the socio-economic development of Africa as most ICT activities in cybercafés, educational institutions and small businesses etc in the region depend on imported secondhand computers mostly from Europe and United States of America. 25–75% of the imported secondhand computers may not be functional or repairable as in Nigeria. A major concern is that the consignment of admixture of EEE, UEEE, near end of life EoL UEEE and WEEE or e-waste are not shipped as wastes, but as secondhand products, which make the devices not subject to Basel Convention control. The limited studies available indicate that most of the UEEE exported to Africa are hazardous wastes with concentrations of heavy metals several fold higher than permissible levels in developed countries. Crude methods are used in the informal sector to extract precious metals such as gold, silver etc from e-waste; causing the release of heavy metals and environmental multimedia contamination. The current flood of e-waste into Africa is considered a risk factor to the attainment of sustainable development and the millennium development goals in the region. Outright ban of UEEE is not advocated . But development of national/sub-regional/regional legislative and regulatory control of EEE along the supply chain based on lifecycle approach is advocated; as welll as the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility for OEM and retailers. The e-waste problem could be a driver for capacity building of the informal sector with employment generation and poverty alleviation opportunities.
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