By Lilian Mutegi
African countries have weak legal regimes that cannot be relied on to control production, user handling and disposal of electronic waste. None of the African countries has legislation on e-waste management. In cases where Bills have been developed, they are still pending in Parliament.
Lack of these laws are lagging countries like Kenya and her East African counterparts behind as they try to keep up with the changing advancement of in the ICT Sector.
This was pointed out by delegates during a workshop that was sponsored by Microsoft in Nairobi under the Upgrade Your World (UYW) Initiative. The conference was held as a build up to the global conference on e-waste management was aimed at providing a platform for African countries to come together to identify and address issues on e-waste management and the recycling industry.
The CFSK Founder and Director, Dr. Tom Musili, said Kenya like her East African counterparts only has guidelines on e-waste management, as a Bill on the same has been pending in Parliament for a long time.
Dr Musili challenged the legislators to expedite debate on the Bill so as to enable the establishment of legal structures that would help deal with the e-waste problem in the country.
"We are lagging behind developed countries in establishing laws that would create environmentally safe disposal methods for electronic waste to keep pace with the change and advancement in the ICT sector," he said.
At the same event, Microsoft's Corporate Citizenship and Public Affairs Manager in East and Southern Africa, Mr. Alex Nyingi, said that the Bill which has been in Parliament for some time now has good provisions on educating the public and creating awareness on the safe handling and opportunities of e-waste.
Nyingi at the same time encouraged IT product developers to play a greater role in educating and supporting the society on e-waste management in order to mitigate against the challenges facing the society from an alarming increase in e-waste.
"Product developers need to develop solutions for the challenges facing the society and e-waste is one such phenomenon that needs to be tackled to maintain sanity in our environment," says Nyingi.
"As African countries we want to come together to promote waste reduction, recycling, reuse, recovery and creating policy awareness on e-waste management and recycling industry," said Mr. Seth Munyambu from the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Centre.
Discarded computers, televisions, VCRs, stereos, copiers, fax machines, electric lamps, cell phones, audio equipment and batteries if improperly disposed can leach Lead and other substances into soil and groundwater.
Many of these products can be reused, refurbished, or recycledin an environmentally sound manner at the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre (WEEE Centre) so that they are less harmful to the ecosystem.
This is being achieved through the Microsoft Refurbished PCs Programme, which allows refurbishers to preinstall discounted Microsoft software, provide data wiping security services, and use environmentally sustainable best practices when refurbishing computers.